Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pillow Covers {Tutorial} + Giveaway!

Whew! What a fantastic Christmas! For us, it was simple and sweet and just downright great. I usually dread this time of year for a variety of reasons but this was so nice that I might not cry come next December.

So what about you? Excited for New Years? Did you get any sweet home bar furniture to spruce up the place for your next party? I'm totally digging this pink one:

Any good sewing things? Tell ya what, just incase there was something you wanted but didn't get, I'm giving away a gift certificate to CSN stores so that you can get whatever it is your little heart desires! Just comment at the end of this post and tell me what was the best "thing" you GAVE this year. (Totally doesn't have to be a "thing" - you know what I mean!)
Contest open to US addresses only. Sorry Charlie, CSN rules. I'll announce the winner next year.... January 1st!
And now onto the (crazy easy and mega fast) pillow cover tutorial!
Fabric - can be same, contrasting front and back, whateves
All the normal sewing machine stuff
Pillow form - measure that ahead of time so you know what size to make the cover.
Skill level:
Totally beginner. Way fun and good for instant gratification.
A friend recently asked me to make three linen pillow covers as a Christmas gift to her sister. Oh linen! I love how it looks but it is a tad bit high-maintenance with its wrinkles and wiggly edges. I chose a 100% linen of medium weight.
Since I like a nice soft cushy pillow, I back my pillow covers with batting. I first cut my batting to the exact size of the pillow form (18" x 18" in this case). This is probably the most important step if you are using linen because the batting (I use Warm and White) holds its shape better than the crazy wiggly linen. Perfectly square batting will ensure you will end up with an evenly-shaped pillow cover.
Exhibit A: Batting.
Next - cut the front of the pillow cover the exact same size. (18" x 18")
For the back (envelope closure), cut two panels 18" x 12". (Or if using a different size pillow form, make sure that the panels will overlap by at least 4")
(If you are in a real hurry, use the selvedge edges as the "hemmed" edges and sew around the raw edges when making your cover. So for example, cut the selvedge at 18" in length and put that in the middle - NOT on the outside - when we start stacking all the layers.)
Now we stack.
First - batting.
Next - front - right side up
Finally - panel one raw edges lined up on the left and panel two lined up on the right - right sides down.
Hemmed/Selvedge edges in the middle.
(psst- I have a more in-depth tutorial here with better pictures should you need a little more visual guidance.)
Stacked? Edges all lined up nice and neat? Let's sew, daddio!

You will probably want to pin just to make sure everybody stays in place. I also use a walking foot for this since there are a lot of layers and room for a lot of shifting about.

So you sew about 1/4" all the way around. For linen I did almost 1/2" since it tends to fray. It really doesn't matter - just rock it out. Make sure you catch all the layers all the time. You'll know if you didn't once you turn it right side out. :) --And don't worry, you can totally go back and fix it. No biggie.

Ok, so you have sewn all the way around. No need to leave an opening for turning since that's what the envelope closure will do.

Turn that puppy right side out and you can be done at this point. Totally less than an hour, right?!

Should you choose to dress it up a bit (and also help the pillow to stand up straigher), you can sew a little "faux piping" around the edge.

Just sew all the way around it again, this time on the right side. By using your walking foot and making it as narrow as possible (1/4" is fine), you can have instant piping! (Should you want to do the real deal with piping, check out my previous tutorial.)

Ok, so like an hour and 2 minutes? Easy peezy!

Don't forget to comment for the CSN Giveaway! Happy New Year if I don't check back in this week. You never know...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pregnant Quilting

Well, it's the week of Christmas! I have been very blessed to have a lot of commission orders since summer. T-shirt quilts, the circle quilts, adoption quilt, and some random magic show props and pillow covers. Whew!

I love quilting, the process of it all, but I do not enjoy basting a quilt whilst pregnant. Crawling around the floor is not a fun pasttime as is. Add a placenta and two people are miserable.

Enter the rag quilt! Now I don't have one of those fancy-schmancy die cutters so it does require a lot of patience in snipping all those raggy edges. HOWEVER! There is no basting and no binding. (I'll always love you, binding, but you are a little rough on the fingers.)

Not to mention how handy rag quilts are in using up charm packs. When I first started my quilt mania 5 years ago, I started buying charm packs of all the spectactular new lines out at the time (Flea Market Fancy, anyone?!) without really having a plan. I was studying for a board exam, hating life, and desperate for a creative outlet. I hadn't touched a sewing machine in years but throw some beautiful fabric in front of me and cha-ching! Gazillions of charm packs are sitting here looking at me for half a decade pleading to be used. Well used you shall be, my pretties.

I just finished up a rockets and robots rag quilt with David Walker fabric. Once it is washed and ready I'll post pictures of that too. I know, try to wait paitently. Both will be in the shop for all your frantic New Years shopping. I kinda misplaced my camera Thanksgiving and didn't get things ready for Christmas. Good timing.

May the peace of our Lord touch you this special time of year. A very blessed and Christ-centered Christmas to you and your families.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:17

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Therese's Quilt

First of all... yikes! The winner of the CSN giveaway that was supposed to be announced oh, about a month ago, is PAM! Congratulations, Pam! I'll send you an email with the info.
Recently I had the honor of making a quilt for a sweet little girl who will come from Africa to her newly adopted home here in The States. Her name is Therese and I really, really hope she loves her new quilt.
A lot of the fabrics are from MacKenzie of Dena Designs. There is one Kaffe Fassett print in there to add a little "African Flare" and one from Red Letter Day of Lizzy House.
I used a lavender chenille backing and made the binding from leftovers scraps of the quilt fabric. I can't remember if I've ever wrote about it before, but it IS possible to do free-motion-quilting with a chenille or minky backing. The secret is doing your FMQ with just the quilt top and batting -- NO FMQ'ING WITH THE BACK! Then do some straight-line/stitch in the ditch to attach the backing and you have the best of both worlds!

In other random sewing news...
For the first time ever I've entered a swap, the Hoop Up! Stitch and Send Swap on Flickr. This was a nice challenge for me. There are several groups of four people that each give their theme. Then each swapper creates something based on that theme and sends it to the person who wanted it. So not only is it fun to create something for another person but also you get some adorable little surprise in your mail as well! My swappees wanted a mandala and bird in a birdcage:

There was also a cereal design but I seem to have lost it for the time being! It is on the flickr link if you really have to see it. My designs are all done and sent and now I just sit back and wait to see what my partners stitched up for me! I highly recommend getting involved in a swap. There are quilt block swaps, pillow, coaster, and embroidery swaps... pretty much anything you can think of. It's a fun and relatively fast little project that helps to enhance your sewing skills. Plus it's always fun to meet new friends out there who don't look at you like you're a senior citizen just because you can use a needle and thread.

Happy Thanksgiving to all you US readers!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival

A little late to the party, but nonetheless I wanted to partake in Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival.
It is always a great source of inspiration to me and so fun to participate in the frenzy of it all!
So this time around I have my circle quilt(s). It was a commission for a brother and sister. Adorable! Mostly made up of Kaffe Fassett fabrics with a little Amy Butler and Tina Givens thrown in. They are both twin size.
I must say with alllllll the circles I cut (108 fabric circles per quilt + 108 interfacing circles per quilt x 2 quilts = 432 circles!), the sanity lifesaver award goes to the Olfa rotary circle cutter. It was about $20 at JoAnn and worth every penny. Also using Steam a Seam for the interfacing was totally fantastic as it is sticky on both sides. Very helpful for eyeball placement on the squares and ironing. No, I'm not getting paid for this (but I'm certainly up for it!) just giving my helpful tips should you attempt a circle quilt in your future.
Something new to me... I went big on the binding. I cut my strips a whopping 6" wide. I love it. Especially with all the craziness of the busy fabrics going on, it kind of doubles as a border, giving the eye a place to rest. Ahhh...
And the brother quilt, which is also mostly Kaffe Fassett with a little Joel Dewberry in.
Orange flannel backing worked well. I was a little hesitant how flannel would do for free motion quilting, but it was a total champ. I taped and basted these suckers like never before! And it paid off - not one wrinkle or a pucker here.
Thanks for visiting me for this installment of Blogger's Quilt Festival! See y'all next year for more quilty fun. I predict a baby quilt in my future about that time of year. wink wink!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ooooh, ottomans in October! + Giveaway!

So I made this slip cover for my ottoman at home. I highly recommend washing it before posting pictures on the web for others when showing off your future new ottoman slip cover! I have washed it many times but apparently that was long ago...

Excuse me while I shrink that picture down to a microscopic level so that the filth is a little less noticeable.

If you are not in the mood for making one on your own, CSN stores would like to help supply you with a new (clean) ottoman coffee table.

Aren't they fab?! Of course if you are more the DIY kind of gal you can still enter to win the amazing $35 gift certificate to any of their oodles of stores to get something else like a bird feeder (my new obsession) or maternity clothes . Yeah, so... I kinda need some of those these days!!

Sorry, I always end up making these about me. ANYHOO, if you would like to be entered in the random drawing for the CSN gift certificate (and I highly recommend that you do!) please leave a comment here about a time when you got caught with a dirty house so I don't feel so bad about mine. Contest only open for US addresses, please. I will use to find us a winner on HALLOWEEN, October 31st.

In other news... I have finished the circle quilts! They will be displayed in all their circle glory for Blogger's Quilt Festival coming up.

And probably the coolest thing ever done with a pumpkin (other than figuring out to make it into a pie), my dear friend surprised me with this.
How fun is that?! She actually broke out the drill for me! Way cool.
Don't forget to enter the giveaway now that I've distracted you with other news. :)

PS. Welcome Giveaway Scout peeps! I'm so excited to be listed with other fun blog giveaways and contests. Have a look around and by all means... enter that contest! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Circling the Wagons

Hi, remember me? I used to write here frequently. I guess summertime can do that to ya. We've been having a most enjoyable summer. Nothing too grand, just relaxing and being. Being together has been so lovely.

We've taken a few day trips to Amish Country which is perfect for my Laura Ingalls-in-training. It makes a mama happy to see her daughter delight in such innocent and beautiful things like a rag doll or new bonnet.

And my new favorite fabric store, Miller's Dry Goods. I managed to find some Bliss precuts since the yardage had not yet arrived. Oh goodness, what a great fabric line that is! I also bought a few fat quarters of Fresh Cottons that were just so beautiful in person.

Other than shopping, I have been working on the circle quilts. Both quilt tops are done. Hooray! It has been so satisfiying to see these lovelies come together. Working on two twin quilts simultaneously has been a challenge but a good one. I have found sewing to be the ONE THING that stays done. Toys are picked up but always end up on the floor. Dinners are made but dishes follow soon behind. I have found sewing to be a great source of momentum in my life. It (almost) always goes forward, showing constant progress and tangible improvement. Of course I visit with my seam ripper from time to time but even then a quick fix isn't so bad.

So there they are. I also have another very special quilt I'm working on for a friend who is adopting. More to come on that. And since Halloween is coming there are tutus to be made as well. Hopefully I'll find the time to get back here sooner rather than later!
Hoping your days are warm and bright in this fantastic late summer season.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Winner! And more circle news

Winner, winner chicken dinner! selected #3, Melissa. Congratulations and thank you for entering!

The circles are coming along nicely. This will eventually be a twin quilt with 108 squares. Each square is 8 1/2 inches with the circles inside measuring 6 inches.

Most fabrics are from Kaffe Fasset, but a lot are from my stash because I simply can't help myself. The more color the better in my world. I currently have 73 squares and circles done, so it is coming right along. I must say the two most helpful purchases for this quilt have been a circle cutter and Steam a Seam.

The circle cutter is a necessity if doing a circle quilt such as this. After this quilt is finished for big sister A, her little brother is also getting a twin size one. Therefore I will be cutting 436 circles (218 fabric circles and 218 interfacing circles)! I wasn't really about wasting fabric or having imperfect circles and this is exactly what I needed. As long as the blade is sharp, they come out perfect and fast. I can't recommend it enough. I bought mine at JoAnn with a 40% off coupon for less than $20. Worth every penny.

I also had an interesting predicament with the interfacing. The client's son has asthma so I had to be very careful with all the "ingredients" for the quilt. Eveything must be "non-toxic" and "no added chemicals". I was sure to wash and dry everything to eliminate any unwanted extras hanging around. I usually use a lightweight fusible interfacing for raw edge applique but we were unsure of what went into that. Thankfully I found out about Steam a Seam and it conforms to LHAMA Regulations (which means no toxins added). PLUS it washes up better than any interfacing I've ever used, so double bonus. The only downside is it is much more expensive, but at least no one will be ill.

Lately I'm pretty much convinced I'm the best mom ever.

I made the play tent from 2 Little Hooligans. They love it, I love it, everyone wins!

It consists of one hula hoop ($4) and three twin sheets ($4 each), so final price = $16. NICE! The tutorial states that it will take 2-3 hours start to finish. Um, not for me. More like 8-10 hours. But it was one of those projects I worked on when I needed a break from a quilt or something else.
Our AC went out last week (yes, in the middle of a nice long 90+ degree stretch!) so we have been frequenting the "Fairy Tent" for meals and play. You simply must be happy when you enter it, and I needed an extra dose of happy for sure. It will be great when we have to bring it in for winter as well. I'm thinking a great reading nook for them in the playroom.

Monday, August 9, 2010

GIVEAWAY! and some mini quilts

Hello my happy readers!

I am very pleased to announce another giveaway! Woo hoo! This may seem a bit random, but it actually is in celebration of my dear, DEAR husband breaking yet another item in my - I mean THE - kitchen. Usually it's your basic glass or espresso cup (that was a birthday present). But this time it was the pepper shaker. As in - part of a set. They were so cute together. *sigh*

However, you have the divine opportunity to win your very own Salt and Pepper Shakers or whatever other fancy schmancy Corelle you desire.

So go ahead and leave a comment here about what your husband has broke around the house and I'll pick a random winner Friday night. (Sorry, only US readers please.) The winner will receive a gift certificate to CSN stores which is a major score because they sell everything under the sun. It's your chance to stock up on those breakables!

Personally, I've had my eye on these pressure cookers for the upcoming canning season. Those maters just get bigger everyday!!

And in the sewing front... I'm playing with circles!

I've recently been commissioned to make two circle quilts which require a lot of practice. So here are some mini-quilts of my circle experimentation.

For a 5-yr-old girl that just doesn't want to be "little" any more. How sad for her mama!

For a 3-yr-old boy that really doesn't care! ;)

So I embroidered a road for him to drive his matchbox cars and made some of the circles bumpy for hills. Who's the coolest 3-yr-old now?!

Friday, July 30, 2010

A fast finish

I never really set out to do something fast, but when it happens, I get sooo excited. I had a custom order for a T-shirt quilt that was completely finished in less than two weeks. These were extremely well-behaved shirts.
It also helped that my client was crazy-organized. She sent a color picture of the design with her shirts (which were washed and smelling extra fresh) and took about 0.4 seconds to pick her coordinating fabrics for sashing and backing.
Incase you are wanting to make one for yourself, here are some numbers you might find handy:
I used exactly 3 yards of heavyweight iron-on interfacing for the back of the shirts (12 total squares, 13.5" wide).
1 yard of the navy sashing 3" wide
2 yards for the yellow borders 5" wide
4 yards for the pink backing + cornerstones (3" squares).
I used a navy binding from my stash since there wasn't enough of the calico remaining. My rule of thumb in binding colors - frame your art! I originally thought about using the yellow to blend with the borders but my instincts told me otherwise and I'm glad I obeyed. The navy looks much better on the front and the back than the yellow would have. Whew, close one!
Totally random, but have you ever seen someone eat a tomato like an apple? My youngest girl appropriately enjoyed our first tomato of the season.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Let's take a trip

Well, that was a month! I have been abundantly blessed to have had some very special opportunities lately. Sit back, get comfortable, and join me on a trip down Sewing Memory Lane!
My most recent finish:
My one and only nephew turns two this week! I think every two-year-old boy needs a sock monkey quilt, don't you? Another quilt-as-you-go project and it worked beautifully again.
Well, if you don't count ripping out the quilting because the original minky backing was a disaster.
What I learned: don't use it if you can't tape it on the floor for basting. That should have been my first clue that quilting (even straight-line-quilting) was not going to go well.
I bought this great flannel and put a little monkey surprise with it and it went soooo much better.

Remember those totally rad blankets I made to protect my hydrangeas from the late spring frost? I think they worked!!!! Last year (and well, every year) we get a maximum of 4 flowers on the bushes. Not this year! They are bursting with color and they are gorgeous!

My second puppet is complete. She's actually going to go to a Ventriloquist Convention this week. Wow, talk about an amazing opportunity. I got to make a puppet! For a professional puppet person! I get a little emotional to think of how far the Lord has brought me out of the pit I was in. Sorry, no hyperlink for that one. Just giving thanks to our great God!

Another pastel commission! :) But it had actual colors in it, so I was ok.


More watermelon.

I was asked to make the banner for my neighborhood's July 4th Parade! More to come on this as it was a crash course in applique.

Another charity sewing event. This time we made pillowcase dresses for little girls in Haiti. I was so thrilled to see more ladies come who have never sewn a thing in their life. Hopefully they left feeling motivated and ready to try it again and again. We finished the night with 17 dresses with more to come from a few who could not attend. Awesome.

Whew! Thanks for staying with me during the hiatus and for the trip down Sewing Memory Lane. More good clean sewing fun is to be had this summer for sure. What lovelies are you sewing this summer?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A blogable offense

Actually, the offenses are three-fold: new Belle skirt, picking strawberries, and drippy red chins.

First, the skirt. Browsing through the remnant box at JoAnn's one day, Isabella found this bright yellow sparkle silky piece. "Mom, will you make me a Belle dress? Please, Mommy? Please, please, pleeeeeeeeese?" Yes, a thousand times yes. Even though I knew it would never be a dress, more like a skirt. But still, she is thrilled and it's one of those plant flowers/pick berries/first thing right out of bed in the morning skirts.

Unrelated: the plants are in! Four-year-olds are actually kind of helpful. She never ceases to amaze me.

She wanted this skirt to look like Princess Belle's from Beauty and the Beast (usually the whole Princess thing makes me uneasy but being handmade makes me cringe much less). I sewed up some scrap muslin for lining, put some crinoline (stiff netting/tulle) on top, and then the yellow fabric on top of that. Elastic casing, eyelet hem on the muslin and ta-da... BELLE!

Since the yellow was a remnant at 50% off and I already had the muslin and crinoline on hand, the whole project took about $5 and a good 2 hours. A most excellent way to break up my mega quilt days.

Which brings me to the second offense... strawberry picking! It's one of my favoritest things to do. Ever. I remember being a little punk and my mama taking me strawberry picking on Wednesday afternoons (her office was closed on Wednesday afternoons for some reason). So you better believe I'm taking the kiddies out every chance I get to pick berries whether we use them or not! Who am I kidding, those things are gone within hours these days.

Yep, different day, same skirt! Success!!

Oh my lands, this picture makes me laugh and then cry. It's an instant classic. The Drippy Red Chin/Hand/Shirt. I'm pretty sure she ate a lot of over-ripe, not-quite-ripe, and certainly perfectly ripe berries with greens. Her appetite knows no end.

Here's to handmade princess skirts and fresh-picked fruit this summer!