Thursday, December 13, 2012

happy holiday button trees

I had some girlfriends over this past weekend for a little crafting party, and take a look at this cute project we worked on - Christmas Button Trees! They were so easy and fun to make. All you need are some holiday fabric scraps, buttons, and embroidery floss to make your very own.

Here's mine all stitched and ready to be framed...

This was our prototype that Lorrie completed last year and gave to a good friend. The pattern comes from a 2011 Better Homes and Gardens magazine called "Holiday Crafts", and the finished tree fits in a frame with an 8" x 10" opening. Lorrie purchased a white frame from a local craft store and painted and distressed it to showcase her beautiful work.

We each put our own personality into our individual projects, and they all turned out beautiful! Here is Wendy's glammed-up tree on a dramatic black print background...

Kelly's traditional red and green tree - she put a bird on it! And she chose a different embroidered message to personalize it even more...

Andrea's whimsical snowman-topped tree...

And Paige's red batik tree complete with bling and garland!

Lorrie also made a new tree to keep for herself this year - can you believe all those buttons?! I love her "Swell Noel" embroidery!

Here we are hard at work at my kitchen table...

Dixie is under the table hoping for dropped food, but she only got stray buttons and fabric scraps!

The mess necessary for creativity...

Of course we had to partake in some festive holiday beverages! These pretty drinks are Poinsettias - roughly equal parts Prosecco and cranberry juice - a little bit of pink bubbly cheer...

An hors d'oeuvres potluck to keep us sustained during our hours of crafting...

And the best for last - a delicious red velvet cake from Lorrie...

Such fun to spend a December weekend day with these great girls! I hope you are all able to spend some time with friends during this busy time of year :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

a few more trees

Progress! Trees 6-11 are completed...

Thank heavens for a long iPod playlist of Christmas favorites to sing along with while wearing a carpet path from the sewing machine to the ironing table and back!

Only four more to go...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

spools progress

Yes - Lorrie and I are making spools! Our last sewing session earlier in November yielded quite a bit of progress...

We sewed our remaining eight strip sets giving us a total of 36 sets. We each need 41 pieces measuring 3.5" x 4.5" for our spools. Due to some over-zealous strip cutting on my part, we actually had enough strip sets made to make 4 spool quilts! Our extras have been stashed away for another project - we're not sure what project - but they will be used for something!

We then sewed the side pieces onto each colorful spool, pressed them, and called it a day. Here are some samples of what we accomplished. Pink spools...

And teal spools...

And now it's December and we got back to business today! It was a very tedious day of sewing - making 82 spool tops and bottoms for each of us. Yep, that's right. We spent the entire sewing time today adding these little triangles to the ends of the brown strips.

Over three hours for each of us sewing and pressing. The most boring part of the project so far. Mind numbing as it was, thank goodness we were working on it together or else it might have gone straight to the WIP pile (or out the window!) But we plodded through, and next week we'll be on to a more fun task - actually finishing the spool blocks!

Project hours from our November session:
Sewing strip sets - 2 hours
Cutting spools - 2 hours
Sewing blocks - 3 hours

Project hours from today:
Sewing spool tops and bottoms - 7 hours

Grand total from 3 sessions: 25 hours to date

To see more about the beginning of this project read this post.

Monday, December 3, 2012

the assembly line approach

I'm deeply entrenched in the part of any quilting project where I am most likely to lose focus and let my eyes and mind wander to other pretty fabrics and all the possibilities they hold... the assembly line.

You know, that part when you've made enough of the blocks to have worked out all the kinks and you know how they're going to look all put together? The part where you've just got to put your head down and crank out the rest of the blocks so you can move to the next step? That's where I often lose the battle to finish what I've started - not always, but often. Tell me I'm not the only one who struggles with this.

With five of my trees blocks completed, I went on a fabric cutting spree to get all of the remaining batches of leaves cut at once so when time allows I can keep my head down and sew, sew, sew. Here they are - 10 bunches of leaves-in-waiting...

And some spare parts just in case I have a change of heart about a certain color during the assembly process.

There are two more sets of leaf fabrics here than I'm going to need, but I decided making some extra blocks would be worth the extra work in the end. Those that don't make it to the quilt front will be pieced into the quilt back.

I've still got my joint project with Lorrie in the works, and I'm feeling the need for some Christmas cheer pillows for my family room, but I'm determined not to abandon these trees completely! They won't be finished this year, but they won't go back in the WIP pile either!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

combined effort

Today Lorrie (from SewMod) and I started a new project together! We're only going to work on it during our sewing days together, and in the end we'll each have our own quilt - each one different but both very similar.

Over the past week I've cut 200 or so of these...

And today the two of us turned 75% of those strips into these sets...

Pretty, huh?

And the next step will be to cut all the finished sets into these...

Any guesses about what they might become?

And just for fun I'm keeping track of hours the whole project takes us. So far:

Cutting strips: 4 hours
Sewing strip sets: 7 hours today with about 2-3 hours remaining

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tree of Life grows again!

Remember this lonely little tree from May, 2011?

She was rescued from the work-in-progress pile last week and now has four mates!

The majority of fabrics are from Sarah Fielke's line "From Little Things" released in early 2011. The dots on white are my favorite - I'm using the lavender, grey, yellow, and teal dots for my tree backgrounds.

The stripes are also from that line, but I've thrown in some Kaffe (of course!) and some Art Gallery Oval Elements to mix things up.

As always happens when you let projects sit for too long, it took me some extra time to get back in the groove of what size and quantity of fabrics I had to cut for each tree. While each 14.5" block is still more time-consuming than you'd think, I've cut it down to about 2 hours each by making 4 in a row uninterrupted by other projects.

The other thing that happens (to me, at least) is that after some time is allowed to pass, occasionally I'm not as excited about the borders and sashing fabrics that I originally chose. So those funny birds (I'm kinda done with that whole "put a bird on it" fad) and wacky vines that were slated for setting triangles and borders will now likely end up on the back. A wild new Kaffe print and some bright fuchsia stripes are taking over as setting triangles and sashing. The border choice is currently undecided - the two leaders are a new floral from Philip Jacobs and a oldie but goodie leaf print from Kaffe - the final choice will be made when the rest of the top is complete. I'll show you some photos of those beautiful fabrics next time. It's going to be a wild one, for sure!

Five down, three to go!

Or maybe seven to go - if eight trees are good, then twelve trees are better, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

pretty in pink

I am so lucky to be a part of a charity quilting group at my church. We meet every week and sew quilts and other projects for organizations such as Lutheran World Relief and Project Linus, as well as quilts and gift baskets for various local fund-raising efforts.

Our latest project is making baby quilts for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital. These small quilts will be donated to families with babies being cared for in the unit.

This little pink lovely is my first contribution to the group's donation set of quilts.

I started with a WOF strip scrap bag from an LQS purchased a couple of years ago. I think most of these fabrics were from a Moda Basic Grey line, but sorry I can't remember the name. I cut all the strips in half and sewed 16 of them into the center section. With the remaining strips I constructed some four-patch units to add to the sides with a 2" finished strip of white-on-white to separate them. The final border strips are the same 2" finished white-on-white bringing the total dimension to about 36" x 39" - perfect for new babies :)

The center and four-patch borders are straight line quilted in a pale pink thread.

Within the white border sections I free-motion quilted a continuous line of pale pink hearts.

The backing is a cozy pink-on-white stripe flannel.

It gives me such a great feeling knowing that this little quilt will be given to a family with a tiny new baby girl receiving extra special care and attention before she's able to go home.

I've got two more quilts for this hospital donation in the works. More about them later!

Hope you are all enjoying your week!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

fall placemats

This work-in-progress can finally be checked off the list, and there's still plenty of fall left to enjoy them :)

Last fall Thing 2 decided we needed some season appropriate placemats, and since she was fresh off of her table runner finish (see it here) she decided to use the same pattern for our placemats.

Luckily I had a bundle of autumn-hued Anthology fat quarters just waiting to be cut up and used. We dug through the stash and found a few others to coordinate, and she went to town cutting 3" x 18.5" strips - enough to make four placemats. She finished two of them last year, and then schoolwork and life in general got busy and the other two were just put aside.

Time flies and here it is fall again already! I discovered the unfinished pile a couple of weeks ago while on a straightening and organizing binge, and decided that we needed six rather than just four (I hate when you've got a guest or two and all the placemats don't match or even remotely coordinate. OCD? Yes!)

So a few more strips cut and sewn, some simple straight-line quilting, and now we've got a coordinated set of six fall placemats :) You can see that the strips were just sewn together randomly to avoid a matchy-matchy look.

They are backed with this large fall floral Anthology print.

And since they will see lots of time in the wash cycle, the binding is machine-stitched for extra durability. In an uncharacteristic burst of "use what you already have on hand and just finish it already" motivation, two different bindings were used!

You can look here to see my method for machine binding.

Finished measurement: 11.5" height x 18" width. Very simple and quick!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

the new normal

Two weeks ago my husband and I drove Thing 1 - Caroline - far, far away to her first year of college at the Savannah College of Art and Design - SCAD.

For me (and probably my husband and Thing 2), the last several weeks leading up to her departure were full of secret moments of dread and at times, I believed my heart would break wide open at the thought of her being so far away from all of us. After all, who would the three of us be without Caroline here to complete the foursome of us? We are so blessed to have a family that not only loves each other, but genuinely likes each other and spends quite a bit of time together enjoying being together. None of us were able to wrap our brains around how she could be so far apart from us, and yet still keep it all the same.

It isn't the same, but two weeks have passed and I'm happy (and thankful) to report that the three of us here at home are settling into our new "normal", even though we still (and will likely always) miss her like crazy. At home there are still tests to study for, groceries to buy, work days to get through, and even though it seemed unbelievable a few weeks ago - fun things to do. Life goes on. Thank heavens for Skype, unlimited texting, and cell phones!!

Meanwhile down south, Caroline has met so many new friends, loves her classes and roommates and the city of Savannah, and is being challenged creatively every day - exactly what she wanted. We're so proud of her!!

Here are a few shots of her new little corner of the world taken on move-in day...

Our rental van packed full of stuff...

The trip odometer as we pulled into our driveway at home after a whirlwind 102 hours away: 2102 miles and almost 37 hours of driving...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I'm Sew Very Happy

...with this new wall hanging I made for my sewing room.

It was inspired by this photo I saw in a Better Homes and Gardens special interest publication (Do It Yourself, I think) a couple of years ago, and I've had the project on my to-do list ever since. I'm pretty certain the photo example is done in paper, but I wanted mine to be made from fabric.

I started with a great fat quarter of Art Gallery Oval Elements for the background and several Kaffe Fassett scraps from my Crayon Box quilt for the letters.

These punch-out 2" letters were at my local JoAnn's store. I traced the letters onto fusible webbing then ironed the webbing to the wrong side of the fabric scraps.

I just eyeballed the placement of the letters on my background doing my best to center them on the fabric without being too mathematical about it. The dots certainly helped with that!

After fusing the letters to the background, I sewed a very small zigzag stitch in a coordinating thread around the raw edges of each one to secure and give them a little more definition.

This adhesive foam-core mounting board and my frame were purchased at Michaels. I cut a piece of very thin cotton batting and placed it against the adhesive side before layering the appliqued design on top.

After removing the glass I placed the whole thing in this 12" x 16" frame and promptly hung it on the wall.

I just love it! I'm even thinking of using the same motto on a pillow with script lettering - what do you think of that idea?


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