Friday, November 28, 2014

Baby Quilt and Diaper Bag

With the arrival of some nice cool weather, I always look forward to quilt making.  Somehow during the heat and humidity of summer, the thought of standing over a steaming iron or having a lapful of quilt doesn't appeal to me. We had a nice cold front move in just in time for Thanksgiving weekend, so I got some fabric and started cutting.  My daughter's next-door neighbors are expecting their first baby in the Spring and they are going to wait to find out whether it is a boy or a girl when the baby is born.  I just happened to have some fabrics left over from a pillowcase dress I made for Emily about four years ago.

I thought these fabrics would be perfect to use in a gender-neutral baby quilt.  After I cut the fabrics to make the blocks, I realized that I had enough left over for a diaper bag, so I went for it.  I sewed the blocks and assembled the quilt top last night, and then started on the diaper bag this morning.   By 3:00, the bag was done (except for a button needed for the front).  I wasn't about to get out in the shopping madness going on out there in the wild.  The way I look at it, by staying home I not only saved a ton of money, but also accomplished quite a bit.

I even got the quilt back and binding made.  I'll drop the quilt off at the quilt shop the next time I go so it can be quilted on the longarm.

Here are a couple of close-ups of the diaper bag.  It has six pockets inside and because both the bag and the pockets are quilted with batting, they keep bottles cold long enough for running errands - even in Florida in the summer.  My daughter loved these when Em was a baby.  Best of all, the bag is completely washable.

There are also two outside pockets on the front, and one on the back.

It was a great day!  I hope yours was as well :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The alternating block for my brother's quilt

So, after cutting up all the fabrics for my brother's quilt, I finally figured out what it was about these fabrics that made me certain they were perfect for him.  Even though they are civil war fabrics, the green and brown striped and the blue fabrics remind me of silk foulard prints used for men's ties.  He's always been a fan of classic silk ties, so I think he will like the overall effect of this quilt.  It is masculine and the colors are rich and subdued.

In any case, I decided to sew up one of the alternate blocks just to see what it would look like.  I only have to make ten of each, so it should go fairly quickly now that the cutting is done.  I did find that I had to press the final seam open in order to reduce the bulk of all the flying geese points coming together in the center.  When I first tried to press to one side, the bulk created a definite bump which is not desirable.  

This is my first time making flying geese and it seems to waste an awful lot of fabric - the pattern instructs the quilter to cut a tan fabric rectangle 3.5" x 6.5" and then mark the red and blue squares with a diagonal line point to point.  Put one square on one side of the tan rectangle, sew on the line, then cut the excess away leaving 1/4", press, and repeat on the other side.  I'm thinking that there is a more efficient way to make flying geese.  I'll have to do some research online before I make these again.  In any case here are the two blocks that comprise the quilt center.

I'm done cutting and sewing for today, but at least now I'm ready to make some real progress the next time I get back to it :)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The start of a new quilt for my brother

I have wanted to make a quilt for my brother for a long time, but had trouble finding the right fabrics and pattern.  It had to be something masculine and sort of "traditional".  I was at a quilting retreat earlier this year and we went to a quilt shop one evening.  While we were there, I spotted a quilt hanging on the wall.  It was made using civil war fabrics (definitely not my favorite), but the overall effect was nice and so I bought the fabrics and pattern.  The fabric line is Haversack by RJR.  The quilt is comprised of a series of windmill blocks in tans, blues, greens, browns, and reds.  Here is one of the blue, green and tan ones laid out on my cutting board.

When I made the first flying geese (flying goose - singular?), the fabric got sucked down the needle plate as I started to sew...grrr.  Normally, I just use a leader piece of fabric to avoid this problem, but didn't think it would work well since the seams are started at an angle.  Then I tried using a leader placed on the diagonal which works just fine, so now I'm on a roll.

Hope you get a chance to spend some time sewing this weekend :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Brown Bag Alternative

Last year I made an insulated lunch bag for Em's birthday for her to use for first grade.  I wasn't so sure how well it would work, but I had bought the pattern years earlier and thought it would be a fun project to whip up for her sixth birthday.

The pattern is called "The Not So Brown Bag Insulated Fabric Lunch Bag" by Debbie Hogan.  It takes less than a day to make and it lasted through an entire year of first grade looking almost as good as new.  My daughter loved it because she could throw it in the washing machine when it needed a good cleaning and Em loved it because it was colorful and special.

This past Saturday I woke up wanting to start a project, but didn't want to get into anything that would take more than a day.  Em will be seven in July and I thought she might like another one for second grade.  I had picked up some fabrics about a month ago with this project in mind.

I cut the fabric up and quilted the individual pieces using InsulBrite insulated batting, and by 3:30 in the afternoon, the lunchbox was all finished.

The bag has a little pocket inside that holds eating utensils and napkins - maybe even a piece of candy or two.

I hope she will enjoy this during the next school year because I know the day will come when she won't want anything homemade or different from the other children in school.  Hopefully she'll enjoy Grammy's goodies for a few more years though  :)

Happy quilting!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Custom Dishtowels (and a tutorial)

Last week I found some fantastic nautical fabrics at the local quilt shop.  I thought about it and decided that although I didn't want to make a quilt out of these fabrics, they would be perfect for accessory type gifts.  I thought some more and dish towels came to mind.  After speaking with one of the quilt store employees, I found out they carry dish towel fabric that is pre-hemmed on the sides...perfect!.

Once I got home, I tried making a dishtowel bordered in one of the fabrics featuring blue didn't turn out as well as I had hoped.  There just wasn't enough contrast between the towel fabric and the decorative border fabric, and worse, the edges of the border fabric didn't line up well. Then I remembered the foolproof method for making bordered pillowcases that results in perfectly encased seams and aligned borders every time.

I chose the other fabric and went to work using the same method to attach the borders as when I make pillowcases.  Here is the result.

I couldn't be happier :)

If you would like to make a pair for yourself or someone else, here is a link to the tutorial.  Note:  I updated the tutorial after I posted it to clarify the instructions in a couple of spots.

I just pulled these fabrics from my stash. Hmmm...I think I might buy some good European linen and make my own hemmed dishtowels and pair them with these.  They would make great Christmas presents for my wine drinking friends and family.

So, maybe a natural flax colored linen to pair with the dark corks fabric, and perhaps some chocolate linen with the corkscrews fabric?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Some New Artwork for My Sewing Room

A friend of mine went to Panama years ago and brought back several molas for me.  Below are some pieces of this intricate, colorful handmade art. They have been sitting in a drawer waiting for inspiration to hit.  Today was the day!

This morning I got up early - determined to clear my sewing room of two large pieces of furniture I don't like.  Once that was done, of course I got sidetracked by my fabric stash and patterns, and putzed around for a couple hours.  Finally, everything was arranged and put in its place, and I realized the walls were entirely too empty in there.  So what better artwork to hang, than a couple hand made molas?  About a year ago, I found two 11 x 14 frames at Joann's Fabrics on big-time sale, and bought them without having a clue as to what I would use them for.  So, since they are glass float frames, I figured they were the perfect frames to display two of the small molas.  See?

I am so happy with the way these perk up the place. 

I decided to also lay out a some finished quilt blocks.  There is a story behind these blocks - isn't there always?  Back in 2006, a friend of mine from work and I were sent to Minnesota on a business January!  We are Floridians, remember?  Holy moley was it cold, snowy and icy!  

Luckily, she also was a quilter and I had seen an article about this Eagle Creek Quilt Shop in Shakopee in a quilting magazine - it was one of the 25 best quilt shops in the U.S. according to the article.  So, being the fabricholics we were, we packed an extra empty suitcase so we could bring home "souvenirs" from the quilt shop trip.  We managed to get our work done and then drive to Shakopee - let me tell you - this was one fabulous quilt shop.  It was an old railroad depot building with all the old warm woodwork - the building was beautiful and it was packed full of quilty goodness.  It was one of the best business trips I've ever had!

They had this one quilt on display that I had to make.  The pattern was All About Me (Atkinson Designs), and the fabric was Blossom by Urban Chiks, so I bought the pattern (and a few others), and all the fabric to make the quilt.  So, here we are eight years later and I finally sewed all the blocks to make a large lap sized version of the quilt.

Here are the blocks all laid out.  Now I just have to sew the blocks together, but not today.

Hope you are having a great weekend - happy sewing :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Diaper Bags as Gift Bags

I have made several of these diaper bags over the years and several months ago, I came across left over fabric that matched 3 baby quilts that I had yet to give away.  We found out that Em's first grade teacher was going to have a baby boy, so that provided the inspiration to make three of them.  What better packaging to hold the matching baby boy quilt?

Her teacher really liked this :)

Here are the other two diaper/gift bags I made to go with the quilts I made quite some time ago.  The rate of baby showers had dropped drastically, now that my daughters are in their 30s, but I'm prepared just in case.  I've even thought about putting them on Etsy...but it's just a thought at this point.

The diaper bags are nice an roomy with lots of pockets.  Best of all, they are machine washable and dryable.  The pattern is from the May/June edition of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine.  It is a bit of a pain to put together, but totally worth the effort. 

I hope you all have a wonderful rest-of-the-weekend!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Crazy Trip Around The World

So, I'm still playing catch up on the blog in case you didn't know...geez, my last post was over eight months ago. I started this crazy trip around the world quilt in the summer of 2009 and finally added enough blocks to make it into a full size bed quilt for my Mom. I love looking at the blocks since they are all made from left over fabrics from other quilts I have made or quilts my friends have made.

I found some wide backing fabric on sale that is a blue tone on tone map print - perfect...directions for the crazy trip. The quilting is done in an all over feather pattern using a blue thread that matches the backing.

Now, I don't know about you, but I save all my left over pieces of binding if they are more than 18" long, and so I continued with the theme of using up odds and ends of stash fabric, by sewing together an assortment of left over binding pieces and actually had enough to bind the whole thing (with more left over...sigh).

Life is still hectic - isn't everyone's? This is a finish from last September, so you can imagine the backlog of posts that need to be written.

I'll do my best to get them written - eventually.

Have a great rest of the week and happy sewing!