Archive for May, 2010

Wild Bunches Pillow

Once upon a time there was a little eggplant purple pillow that made all the other pillows on our sofa look ten times better.  Was it the 3 tufted buttons or its small rectangle shape?  The other pillows knew not, but they loved their little purple friend.

Then, along came a wild toddler who tore out the tufted buttons time and time again.  When nothing could be done to save the pillow, it was banished to a closet where it languished for years.  Occasionally mama bumped into it on moving days and the like, but generally the poor pillow was lost to all.

Until one day, when mama was drinking in the pages of Katherine Shaughnessy’s The New Crewel, she came across this page, entitled “Wild Bunch”:

The New Crewel

At last, a solution!  She set off to work making up this quick crewelwork pattern in a long, rectangle design that would suit our pillow friend.

Wild Bunches of The New Crewel

Out she yanked the last button!  With basting pins the finished crewelwork was pinned, then hand stitched to the front. And, voila!  The long-lost pillow returned once more to its square pillow friends, new and old.

Wild Bunches At home

P.S.  Let’s hope Living Color Pillow won’t be jealous.

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Ultimate Hexagon How To

It’s time!  I’ve been just ogling all the hexy goodness out there for too long.  What, don’t know about the craze?  Check out this Flickr group – The Handsome Hexies – but be prepared to catch the hexagon bug!  They’re cute sewn together, cute appliqued on anything and darn cute just sitting in a stack.  LOVE!

Ready to start making hexagons?  Here’s a smattering of the best how to make hexagon resources on the web.

Video Tutorial

I’ll dub Melanie of Texas Freckles the “Hexagon Queen.”  Her 1000+ hexagon quilt in progress is going to be smashing and her tutorial is my absolute fave.  Watch her hexagon video tutorials to learn how to baste and piece hexagons in a tried and true, classic technique.  Melanie uses paper templates, hand basting and the super-speedy whip stitch for piecing.  I guess that’s why she’s been able to make 1,016 hexagons and counting!

Printable PDF Tutorial

If you prefer a handy, printable guide, checkout this PDF hexagon tutorial by Amy of Badskirt.  Amy’s technique is similar to Melanie’s, but she uses the ladder stitch for piecing.  Some say the ladder stitch hides stitches on the finished side better than the whip stitch.  The PDF also includes some fun piecing designs and templates for cutting your own paper pieces.

Compare Techniques

Will you cut out paper pieces or buy plastic templates?  Cut your fabric to hexagon shapes or to squares?  Whip stitch, ladder stitch or running stitch for piecing?  What about assembling a large design?  If you’re an info junkie like me, you’ll adore Adventures in Hexagons from The Sometimes Crafter.  Christina’s excellent pictures and notes on what worked for her will help you choose your favorite technique without all that pesky trial and error.

Browse Hexagon WIP

The Hexagon Queen (aka Texas Freckles) is hosting a Hexagon Charm Quilt Piece-Along, where you’ll find a great list of other bloggers making hexagon quilts.  She’s also got a handy list of hexagon how to links at the end of that post.  What else could you need?

Printable Hexagon Paper Templates

Oh, how about a template to print so that you can start making hexagons NOW!  Texas Freckles’ Easy Cut templates for 1″ and 1 1/2″ hexagons look just right.  Off I go!

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So, not much stitching this weekend.  I gardened on Saturday (and actually enjoyed thinning the carrots – shhh… don’t tell anyone!) and Sunday we went to Mayfair!  Here’s my little Mayfair maiden:

Skipping, ribbons, flowers, painting, garlands, flutists, singing, sunshine and fresh squeezed lemonade!  The children all enjoyed their turn (x3) to skip around the Maypole… and I got in on the action too.

I’m not one to miss a chance to dance! 

My Fairytale Patchwork quilt is coming along, but I’ve got to order sashing.  I have settled on natural linen sashing (surprise, surprise) because I think it will give the quilt more of a modern, big-girl vibe that I hope Aria will love for years to come.  She is absolutely smitten with the unicorn fabrics.  And, she’s agreed that the linen is not a bit gray (because, we don’t want to repeat that scenario). 

Here are some test layouts.  The blocks are 12″ square with 2.5″ sashing:

Testing the Layout

12" blocks, 2.5" sashing

I really like the way the little princess looks sandwiched in Little Folks voile:

Princess Block layout

Poor little princess. Life must be rough.  Luckily, us peasants can frolick at Mayfairs and enjoy the lasting pleasure of good, old-fashioned work!

Princess & the Pea

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At home

First it was the fabric!  I had to have Anna Maria Horner’s Good Folks collection – and the more the better!  I purchased a 1/2 yard set and started making little projects around the house, like my patchwork rugs and computer chair pad.

Then, gradually, I came around and admitted I wanted to make a quilt.  Colorbrick was born when Film in the Fridge posted a work-in-progress on her “Postcards from the Park” quilt (which coincidentally she submitted as her favorite to Blogger’s quilt festival!).  I didn’t know how she had achieved that look, but I knew that I liked the way the large rectangle shapes present the fabric.  Then one afternoon while reading, I glanced up to see some brickwork through my window.   Instantly, I knew that was the feel I wanted.  Isn’t that how it is sometimes – the right idea comes quickly like a gift from heaven!

Colorbrick Quilt

Good Folks would show off  in large brick shapes and natural linen would make a cool mortar.  Not knowing what I was doing, I set to work making the blocks via a paper-piecing technique.  Essentially, I was adding a strip of linen to the top and side of each rectangle.  Well, it worked, but that was silly!  Had I recognized that the top line was sashing, I could have cut one long strip to go all the way across each row of bricks, saving significant time in cutting and sewing.

Closeup Layout

I had planned from the beginning that I would use a thrifted wool army blanket (thanks, Mom!) as the batting and quilt the back in a stair step echo pattern that would emphasize the brick design.  Loved the quilting process!



At first I finished Colorbrick with a bright yellow store bought binding.  It was awful.  I mean, just reaaaally bad!  After ripping it out I made some binding from scraps and it came out alright.  I machine attached it for a quick finish.  Thanks to all of you who have made sweet comments about my Colorbrick quilt!  That picture in the header was taken off the cuff, when we were finished photographing the rest.

Pieced Binding

The internet is a wonderful place!  Thanks, Amy, for organizing such a fun way to share our favorite projects and meet new friends!  I’m off now to check out the other quilts in the Blogger’s quilt festival!

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Months ago I made these curtains for my daughter’s room, inspired by a project in Meg McElwee’s “Sew Liberated“:

Love them!  But, as soon as I hung them up I was dying to complete the look with a custom quilt for her bed.  Aria had one request:  add some purple.  OK, but how to do that and still make the quilt match the curtains.  Hmmm…

A little browsing and we fell in love with the Far, Far Away collection by Heather Ross.  Princesses, wildflowers, frog prince and unicorns… a dream come true for little (and big) girls.  Here’s a collage of swatches from Heather’s blog that helped me see how her collection would work with the bold reds and oranges of the curtains, while bringing in the purple.  Sadly, they’re, um a little pricey.  At $17 a yard I didn’t see how I was going to get my hands on enough fabric for a twin sized quilt.

And, my friends, that’s where grandma comes in!  I mentioned my idea to make Aria a twin quilt and she was instantly interested in getting involved.  Not surprisingly, she fell in love with Far, Far Away too.  Surprisingly, she offered to buy the fabric if I would make the quilt!  It’s going to be a joint birthday gift from the two of us.  Hurray!

Last night I started cutting!  These fabrics are so soft and plush.  The Far, Far Away’s remind me of soft cotton gauze you’d use to wrap a wound.  Is that weird?  I’m quite frankly blown away by the silky soft hand of the Little Folks fabrics I also added to the mix.  Anna Maria Horner is the bomb, as always.  Aaaaaah… heaven.  Back to work now.

Far, Far Away - Purple Unicorn

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Mitered Frame Tutorial

Newbie Disclosure: I am self-taught seamstress who’s owned a sewing machine for less than one year and learned most of my skills via books and web tutorials. I don’t claim that this is the best or only way to accomplished a mitered border frame. The thing is I really appreciate online tutorials and this method worked very well, so I thought I’d share it. Without further ado…

Work in progress

For my Living Color Pillow, I desired to create a natural linen frame around the finished square block above. The corners of that frame needed to be mitered to support my quilting design. I chose to make the frame all in one color, but this method would allow you to use different fabrics for different sides of the frame. Here’s how:

1. Cut Border Strips:  Determine the desired width or thickness of your frame. I wanted a frame 3.5″ thick. Next measure the length of one side of the block. Cut strips as wide as desired, but with an extra 1/2″ for seam allowances (4″ in my case) and with a length to equal Block Length + Desired Width (x 2) + 1″.

2. Sew Strips on Block:  Take one strip and center it on one side of your block with right sides together. Align edges and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Sew just to the edge of each block, leaving the extra length flapping off each side. Press seam open. Repeat for each side. Your corners should look like this:

A:  Sew overlaping borders

3. Press Miter: Now fold one of your flapping sides under in such a way that it aligns exactly with the other border strips.  This will create a perfect diagonal fold.  Press this fold to create a guideline for your stitches.

B:  Fold under, align & press

4.  Fold & Pin:  Ok, now this part is a little tricky.  You want to maintain the alignment of your border strips on that corner while folding the block in half.  Fold the block corner to corner with right sides together.  When you fold it the right way, the border strips you are working with will lay flush on top of each other and your pressed seam will be exposed.  Pin along pressed seam and darken with a pencil or other marking tool if desired.

C:  Pin along crease & sew

5.  Stitch Corner:   Stitch along line all the way to the block corner.  Trim seam and press open.  Voila!

D:  Press open Mitored corner

If you have any questions, please ask them right here in the comments so that everyone can benefit.  Thanks!

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This morning Aria got comfy on the couch with our new pillow and my Colorbrick quilt.  It was a very warm morning…  I didn’t make them to match, per se, but Good Folks make good company.

Living Color Pillow w/Colorbrick Quilt
I put the final stitches on my Living Color pillow last night, while watching “The Invention of Lying” (which was a bust IMO).  The “twisted trees” design is from The New Crewel.  Because getting to the fabric store is just too much trouble for this busy mom, I recycled an old pillow, ripping out its stuffing to fill this new one, and backed my design with some yellow decorator’s weight fabric I had lying around.  Not sure if it was correct to do so, but I used one of those curved, semi-circular needles to hand stitch the bottom side closed.  A straight needle was causing a little ridge of fabric to form, but the circular needle made for a smooth finish.  So, I guess that’s right?

I was very tempted to try an invisible zipper closure via Sew Katie Did‘s tutorial, but in the end I decided to hand stitch it closed.  And, you know, for what it’s worth, I enjoy hand stitching so much that I’d probably just rip it open, remove stuffing, wash and restitch if necessary!  How’s that for stubborn?

By the way, gots to give credit to my mama who suggested a mirrored quilting design on the natural Essex linen/cotton frame.  I do love quilting patterns on solids it seems.

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Playing with Fabric

Today I played with fabric.  OK, so I did a lot of others things as well… but here’s the part you want to see:

My mother's day gift!

Oooh, la-la! Thank-you, thank-you!

My Mother’s Day gift arrived a little late, but I don’t mind ;).  I scored yards of Good Folks by Anna Maria Horner, purchased at a great deal from this Etsy shop.  She was having a moving sale on her already low prices, but that’s ended.  I got to know Kerith, the owner, while putting together my wish list.  She’s the sweetest thing and actually has more Good Folks in stock than are listed on Etsy.  Definitely convo her if you need some.

oooh, la la!

I’ve decided I can’t get enough of this fabric.  I like anything made in it.  I especially love my Colorbrick Quilt, Maureen’s Family Tree Pillow & my first Etsy Makeup Roll…. which no one has purchased.

I’m trying not to get discouraged by that.  It’s so easy to want to give up and hide my face.  I know that instant success is unrealistic, but I just need a little encouragement.  It really keeps me going that my Etsy Store is not really about me, it’s for kids who need help.  Course, it’s not helping yet….  I’d like to make more makeup rolls, so that customers would have some choices; but it feels foolish to make more if I’ve never sold one, you know?  So, tonight, I rolled up my sleeves and made a new listing for a Custom Makeup Roll.    I thought maybe it would help if I show some other fabric possibilities and make it real clear to folks that I’d love to do custom?  So, I also photographed LOTS of groupings of Good Folks that would make pretty makeup rolls and created this Flickr set.  That was the playing with fabric part of my day.  And it was fun 🙂

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Yesterday, on Mother’s day, I was gifted a leeetle extra time at the sewing machine during what was (for us) a relaxed Sunday.  Inspired by some of my Flickr favorites like this and this, I designed a rainbow of half square triangles to surround my finished crewel work.  It’s a pillow-front in the making.

Work in progress

I’ve never worked with half square triangles before, so it took some trial and error to figure out how to piece them without losing their points.  But, it was time well spent.  I forsee more half square triangles in my future!  I love that I finally have enough fabrics in my stash to do a rainbow like this without shopping. 

Half Square triangles are cut from squares, so each has a twin sister.  Now, I wonder what I’ll do with the rainbow of triangle “scraps” from this project?  Hmm….

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Up close

1.  Oh, Fransson!’s binding method works (be sure to cut strips 2.5 inches!). Loving the hidden stitches and crisp mitered corners.  Next time, use a thimble when hand-stitching…

Meadowsweet Finished!

2.  For some reason, making a small quilt is not nearly as satisfying as making a larger one.  At least it looks respectable all folded up. Best to go bigger next time.  Toddler bed quilts?  Throw quilts?  Twin quilts (gulp!)?


3.  Don’t judge a quilt until it’s quilted.  My goodness what a BIG difference that little bit of texture makes!

Meadowsweet Backing

4. Um, press the quilt before photographing. Yes, it’s really necessary.

5. Working from a pattern (Oh, Fransson! New Wave with modifications) is not all that creatively fulfilling even when it’s a cool design.  Enjoyed making the quilt back (especially the quilting design) more than the front… because I created it.

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