Sunday, June 26, 2016

Summery Runner-Fun and Quick

Well, summer is here and that means vacations, gardening and.....sewing retreats!  A few of my sewing friends and I headed off to the lake for several days of sewing and relaxation.  We finished several projects.  The quilt that I started last summer is now ready to head to the quilter.  Yahoo!  It is from Doug Leko's book, Grand Portage, from Antler Quilt Designs.

Scenic Bypass using the fabric line Lady Slipper Lodge by Holly Taylor for Moda Fabrics
We each made a table runner that was inspired by quilts that two of us had made previously.

 The pattern that we used is a Sweet and Simple Pattern called Mod Herringbone from Martingale.  I love these little patterns because they are accurate, easy to follow and they are only $4.00!

The technique for making the herringbone pattern was interesting and fun.  We started with muslin rectangles and a big pile of strips cut at a variety of widths.

Nobody said it was a neat project...
The method involves marking a 45 degree line on the muslin rectangle and layering the strips randomly on the muslin foundation.

When the muslin rectangle is filled with strips, the excess from the strips is trimmed.

For the quilt, we made 14 of these units and sewed them together to make the herringbone insert.  Here's how ours turned out...

My quilt is being quilted but Ruthann got her finished quilt back just in time to show the girls at our retreat.
Isn't it a beauty?
We wanted to adapt this technique for a table runner so this is what we did....
Each lady received 2 muslin rectangles measuring 20"x 5 1/2" that were marked with a 45 degree line.
We had each lady bring a variety of bright batik strips cut 22" long with varying widths from 1 1/4" to 2".  All of the strips were put in a paper bag. We selected strips from the bag without looking and added them to our muslin foundations.  When the two muslin pieces were covered with strips, we trimmed them and sewed them to the ends of neutral centers.  Our runners varied in length depending on where we intended to use them

.  Several of us decided to cut a scalloped edge.

We were so pleased with the results!  It got us to thinking about other patterns that we could modify just a bit.  What do you think?


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Let's Celebrate Mom (or Grandmom!)

Mother's Day is just around the corner but it is not too late to whip up a one of a kind gift.  If you are really pressed for time, you could keep it simple with a Knot Handle Reversible Tote.

This bag literally makes up in no time and with all of the gorgeous spring fabrics out there, you will rocket right to the top of "Mom's favorite" list.

I have made my mom quite a few purses and bags so I am thinking about an apron this year. There are TONS of apron patterns out there and believe me I have looked at many of them.  Some of them are just not worthy of Mother's Day and many have inadequate instructions or are way too complicated!  But...fear not!  There are some clever and very do-able patterns that will make your mom smile.  Here are some real cuties that I found.

If you are a little short on cash this year, you could cut up a pair of your old jeans and make Mom a very durable apron....   The tutorial is available HERE.  I think it is adorable!

I liked this cottage inspired apron and the best part....the downloadable pattern is printable and full sized!  Click HERE for the pattern and tutorial.
I always bake in 4" heels!

Half aprons are okay but for the way I cook, I need a complete cover-up.  This adjustable apron from Purl Soho is super easy and could be made up in a variety of neat fabrics.  Check it out HERE.

I also liked this barrister apron which is a downloadable pattern from Windham Fabrics. If this looks like something your mom would like, click HERE and start sewing!

This next pattern is my personal favorite.  It takes a bit more time but I think Mom is worth it!  The directions are some of the best that I have seen with excellent photos.  Click HERE for this reversible pattern and tutorial.
Bonus!  You get the directions for the scarf too....
Some of you may be thinking...."My mom doesn't really like to cook."  Well check out this apron!
How about a gardener's apron like this one?  I am thinking that it would be great made with Pellon's Fusible Vinyl for easy clean-up.  Click HERE if you would like to make this for your flower loving mom.
I am thinking that this pattern would also make a great little apron for a mom who likes sewing or crafting.  Just replace the gardening implements with scissors, a tape measure, rotary cutter, etc. 
This could also make a great tool apron for a mom who likes home improvement.  Make it using a heavy weight duck cloth or denim and fill it with a hammer, screw driver, etc.

I'm not sure about this last one...but it might be nice for a mom of toddlers. It's an apron made from towels to keep mom dry at bath time. Isn't that a hoot!?  It's a free pattern.  Check it out HERE.

Here's hoping that you have a fun filled Mother's Day!


Friday, April 8, 2016

Wool Robin Applique- So Pretty!

As you may have guessed....I love to sew.  I also enjoy gardening during our lovely Western New York summers.  This was the view out my window this morning....

I may have to wait a bit longer to start digging in the dirt!  I know, I know...I'm rambling but there is a point I am trying to make.  With the beginning of spring, I also love the return of the songbirds. Robins, bluebirds and orioles....Yes!  You can imagine how excited I was to find this adorable applique pattern. The pattern is called Awakenings by Crane Designs.  If you like wool applique like I do, you will want to check out their amazing patterns!

I am particularly proud of myself because I bought this pattern last summer and have it completed in time for spring!

I thought that I would share some of the things that helped me in making this project.
It was a bit tedious cutting out all of the tiny wool pieces but I think the finished project was well worth the effort.  I cut all of the pieces, labeled them and kept them organized in small sandwich bags. It was helpful that all of the pattern pieces were labeled.

Another nice feature of this pattern was the layout guide and pattern to make the oval shape.

I was unable to find a piece of background wool in the exact color that I wanted but I did find a really nice flannel so I decided to use it as the background.  I fused a piece of medium weight interfacing to the wrong side of the flannel to give it a bit of stability for stitching.  I then traced the oval on the interfaced side of the flannel and basted carefully on the outline that I drew.  I will explain why I did this basting later.
Look will see my oval!

I then started placing the cut shapes on the right side of the flannel.  The stitching allowed me to see the oval so I had accurate placement.  I used a tiny amount of  glue to secure each piece.

The pattern suggested using a blanket or buttonhole stitch around the outside of each piece. These pieces are quite tiny and I don't like my stitches to look heavy so I used a single strand of embroidery floss and just took tiny stitches around the edges to secure each piece.

I decided to use a print cotton for my backing.  I started with a 1/2 yard cut of this cute Jo Morton print.  

I did not want to leave an opening for turning on the side of the curve because I was pretty sure that it would leave a bump or bulge and I wanted to have a perfect oval.  So...I cut the backing piece in half and sewed it back together again right sides together with a 1/2" seam and leaving a 6" opening for turning.

I then placed the completed appliqued flannel piece right sides together with the backing piece and pinned carefully around the curves.

I then sewed carefully just inside the basting line.  I used my edge foot to keep the stitch line very close to the basting and stitched all the way around the oval. You will notice that I didn't cut the oval shape but instead stitched around the oval using the basting as a guide.  I find that this is easier than trying to manipulate and oval.  It seems to lay flat with no shifting using this method.

The next step was trimming around the oval.  I trimmed a scant 1/4" from the basting line.

All that was left to do was turn through the opening in the back, press well and slip stitch the opening closed.  One word about the pressing....all of the handling of this piece can leave it looking pretty wrinkled.

 I didn't want to press it too aggressively because I didn't want to "squish" the applique pieces.  Thankfully, I just recently learned about this ironing mat from Bo-Nash.

I have been using it for hand and machine embroidery projects and think it is awesome! It defuses the steam from your iron so it removes the wrinkles but doesn't crush you stitching and fibers.

This is absolutely one of my new favorite tools! 
I loved making this little mat and think the pattern was very well done.
Snow outside?  No problem! It looks like spring on my coffee table!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Baby Birthday Crowns- A Cute Way to Celebrate

If you read my last post, you know that we were visiting the North Carolina coast.  We did enjoy the ocean and the coast but the primary reason for our visit was the first birthday of our twin grandchildren.  I have enjoyed making gifts for these two little darlings including Baby QuiltsA Felt Christmas Tree and Valentine Onesies.  For their first birthday, my daughter-in-law asked if I could make some small birthday crowns.  I was pleased with the result....

I decided to use felt and chose Eco-fi polyester felt which is made from recycled plastic bottles...soft on the little ones' heads and good for the environment too!

I started by drawing a pattern.  I used my 60 degree ruler from Creative Grids.  I lined up the 3 1/2" line with the bottom edge of the paper and drew lines on each side from the 2" line on each side of the ruler.

I used the edge of the ruler to make the points and drew 5 peaks.

I added a tab at the end of the row of peaks and cut out the pattern along the lines.

The felt is quite soft and I wanted to be sure that the crown wouldn't be too floppy so I fused some medium weight interfacing to one side of the white felt.

Using the pattern, I cut out two (I am sewing for two!) crowns from the interfaced felt.

I then pinned the interfaced crown with the interfacing face down to another piece of felt and sewed all the way around close to the outside edge.  This method is helpful in case their is a bit of shifting when you are sewing around the edge.  

I used my edge stitching foot to keep an even stitch close to the edge.  After stitching, I trimmed the background felt even with the interfaced crown.

I cut a 1/2' band of the contrast color and used a cookie cutter to make a pattern for the number one and again sewed close to the edges.

Finally, I formed the crown into a circle, wrapped the tab to the inside and sewed the back seam.  I sewed a soft elastic to each side by hand.  It's just that easy!  Felt works great for this project because there is no raveling and it is soft enough for the tiny ones.

I was quite pleased with the outcome and the guests of honor seemed to approve!


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ocean Inspired Fabrics- Splashy Fun

We have been spending a few days at the ocean on Topsail Island in North Carolina.  It does a body
good to get out of the chilly Western New York spring temps and get a preview of what will be coming in the next few weeks.  North Carolina's trees and early flowers bloom about a month ahead of ours.  I always start to get the itch to dig in the gardens about this time of year so visiting NC literally warms my heart.   I also love the east coast and the beautiful Atlantic....

With that in mind, I thought that we might think about some ocean inspired fabrics to get us all in the mood for summer.  I checked out some of the fabrics at Tonic Living and found some that fit the bill.
Even though I am not usually a "pink" person, I did like this one called Ocean Tropic with hand drawn lines and different corals.

I thought it would look neat with any of the these pretty "sidekicks."
Derby solid, "Lemongrass"
Honeycomb Velvet Peony
I am thinking pillows or porch cushions would be really eye catching but if you don't have a home dec project that lends itself to "beach inspired" fabric, how about a cool bag that would be a one of a kind this summer.  Ruthann Stilwell's Tidal Wave bag would be so pretty in these fabrics. about an Insulated Picnic Tote to carry your goodies to the beach?

There are lots of fabrics that have an ocean theme but are a bit more subtle.  I am thinking navy blues and aquas,  Here are several that caught my eye...

Tiles, Deep Marine Blue
Riley Blake-Holiday Anchors

Embrace, Aquarius
And of course...there are lots of novelty fabrics with that neat beach theme. Here are a few of my favorites...
Riley Blake Offshore Surfboard- Red

Kaffe Fassett-Spiral Shells Multi

Michael Miller- Into the Deep Tropical

Heather Ross Medicino-Swim-Class-Yellow

So's to beach weather! Are you inspired to make something fun and summery?