Monday, August 18, 2014

Testing Sunflower Fields



Happy August! How are you? I am so happy that summer will be over soon. I know many people who want summer to last forever - I'm the opposite, LOL. I love cool weather. I do not like hot, hot weather and in Oklahoma, it is hot for months. This summer has been fairly mild until lately so I can't complain too much. Now its nasty hot outside, so I am indoors stitching in the cool air conditioning. 

I'm not fond of trimming blocks down until I see how spiffy they look without the little tabs.

This week I actually followed some directions and tested another quilt for Quilt Doodle Doodles. She has some fun designs. This week I tested Sunflower Fields for her. My oldest daughter adores sunflowers, so this fit. And the quilt will have a home when it is done.

Trimmings from stitching half square triangles. 
Her inspiration was fields of wheat with sunflowers on the edges. I live in a rural agricultural community. By golly, we have lots of wheat fields around here. However the farmers raise winter wheat which is usually harvested around Memorial Day, if not sooner. So we never get sunflowers with our wheat. They come later during the summer heat. It all goes back to our weather, LOL.


I love the bright sunflowers

The pattern is scrappy, light and quick to stitch. I used leftover yellows and gold paired with an off white, some tan and I even tossed in some unbleached muslin. Cindy has her sunflowers on a green vine. I'm debating to add the vine or just stems and leaves. Cute and flowing or authentic to my local flowers?



The pattern is clear. The blocks will work for beginners. It's a really nice design. I feel like I got a lot of bang for my efforts, so to speak. I had a beautiful quilt top whipped out in short time. It's just so pretty!  



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rainbow Chair Covers


My daughter is active in The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls organization. They are a youth group under the guidance of the Masonic Fraternity. They teach lessons of service, love for home, family and community, speech and such. My oldest daughter was also in Rainbow, so we have been in this for 14 years now.
Green
We are part of a brand new assembly. The girls are actively working to grow the membership in their group. This means they need to do lots of fundraising and need 'stuff' for their assembly room. I was in the meeting a couple of weeks back and realized chair covers like they use at their big state meeting would sure spiff things up. The state uses black covers so the theme decorations get attention. In our little bland room though, covers in the colors of the Rainbow would be fantastic for events.

A bright stack - green, orange, red, yellow, indigo, violet

We went shopping and found fabric matching 6 of the 7 colors pretty quick - still on the hunt for the perfect light antique blue in cotton. I borrowed a chair to bring home and make my pattern. Why buy a pattern when I can draw my own? I laid the chair down and traced the curve at the top, because of course, we wouldn't have a squared off chair, LOL. Then I measured and pondered whether to use one long piece of fabric or two pieces to make the cover. I finally decided on two pieces, as I found Rainbow patches to sew on the covers. It will be easier to attach, pre assembly, to a smaller piece of fabric.

This is the violet chair cover
For once, I followed common sense and made a practice cover first. I used the black from a bolt I bought some time back. That bolt has come in handy so many times! I measured the chair to get the basic dimensions. Then I used my tracing to get the proper curvature. A quick seam, then the test to see how I did ... Voila! It fit! It looked pretty darn good too considering I hadn't ironed it yet. Wahoo! Success! Now to repeat it with the emblems attached to the vivid colors.

Unironed red ... I like it!
I have to admit it seemed easier cutting fabric, assembly line style. By making the cover from 2 pieces, I can make the complete cover with just one yard. I fold the fabric, selvage to selvage, make sure I have a straight edge then cut two 18 inch x WOF pieces. Then I cut one piece shorter for the face of the chair back. The other was longer for the back of the chair back. If you try this, you will have to measure your chair to see how to optimize your fabric.

Indigo needs pressed, LOL. 

I measured down 8 inches and marked the back for the placement of the emblems. I got so lucky and found that above the clasped hands is a yellow line. I threaded my machine and stitched right across there. I rethreaded my machine with bright red and stitched the curved top slowly and carefully. Wahoo!! It worked. No hand stitching for me :)

After that I match up the front and back piece and stitch the seam that goes from one side, up and over to the other. Hem the thing and its done. I must be doing something wrong because it is way too easy! Oh well. I can handle easy, hehehe. In no time at all, voila! Seven chair covers made to custom match the ribbons they already had in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Go Rainbow!

The chairs set up in the meeting room. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Create a tote


The other evening I whipped up a simple tote bag as a gift. My daughter bought a tote and wanted me to embroider the young lady's name on it. My Janome does basic embroidery but the letters were not tall enough to look right on a tote bag. Ugh.

I heaved a big sigh and moved the Janome to sit on the bed and pulled out my old Babylock Ellure machine. This one can embroider bigger stuff. And it was fresh from servicing when I set it aside. Of course, the machine was in one spot, the power cord and foot pedal another and the embroidery table in a third spot. I have got to get organized!

I thought I had my ducks in a row, then I tried to put the embroidery frame on the tote bag .... What was I thinking?!? The frame would hold the one side just fine but there was not enough fabric to go around the machine without catching the back side in the stitching. The bag was just too small. I know better but I am out of practice, LOL. Now what to do?



We talked and decided to make a 'patch' that could be stitched onto the tote bag. It looked fine once created but as I made a few hand stitches to attach it, I couldn't help but think how much nicer it would be if the stitching was PART of the bag. I'm a little OCD, I'm sorry.


I love having her name stitched ON the bag. 

So my mind struggled and I set the bag aside to pull out a bolt of black fabric and my cutting tools. I just love having a bolt of fabric in house. I need several. All I have is black but it has proven invaluable so many times. I cut a piece about 30 inches x WOF. Then I turned and cut two strips, 3 inches wide at the selvages to make straps. Hindsight, I wish I had made the strips wider.

By stitching the layers together and turning - no raw edges!
I then folded the WOF length in half and stitched up the one side. Turned it right side out, ironed it and that was to be the body of the bag. I put one end on my embroidery frame and stitched out the name and an oval frame. So cute!

Stitch a triangle at the bottom of the side seam and voila - the bag has width. 

I then folded the piece in half lengthwise and stitched both sides. By folding and stitching and turning inside out, the side seams had no raw edges. It may not be as slick as no seams but it is fast and easy.At the bottom, I made a triangle and stitched across it to give the bag width. I also folded the top edges inside and ironed them in preparation for inserting the handles.

Closeup of the leaf design

The handles were narrower than what I expected so I stitched a 1/4 seam on one side and turned them right side out. In my insanity, I had the machine stitch a decorative leaf stitch the length of the handles in black, tone on tone style. I inserted the handles on each side of the bag, pinned them and did 3 rows of stitching around the top edge of the bag to securely attach the handles. Did I mention I have an OCD streak?

The leaves of the handles go with the leaves of the frame.

It's a bit tall for the width but I am extremely pleased. I think the young lady will be pleased to receive it. It looks super cute and was made with love just for her :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Feral Cats

This is NOT a quilting post.
There you are warned :)

Miss No Name looks too young for babies
This IS a feral (wild or undomesticated) cat post. I picked up another feral cat today from our local shelter. She was trapped and brought into the shelter last week. Apparently she was pregnant and promptly had 3 kittens. However they might have been premature or maybe the shelter environment was too terrifying for the mom cat to care for them properly - whatever it was, all 3 kittens died within a day. Tragic, I know.

Cash hanging out in a nest box

Moving forward, she was spayed Friday and needed a home. One of the shelter volunteers contacted me thankfully. Poor girl was curled in her litter box and was just limp as they donned a heavy glove and lifted her from the cage. She seemed super depressed. When my daughter got home she looked in the crate to meet the new rescue, then reached in and found the little girl was open to being petted. This is another cat that makes us wonder if she is truly feral or simply dumped and scared. Our experience is that many female cats get dumped once it is obvious they are pregnant.

Black and White and Fluffy eating kibble.

We took her up to the kitty condo in the far barn to get her settled in. She sniffed and was sniffed by the other residents. We showed her the food, water and litter box. We left her crate with the door opened, so she could hide if she felt insecure or join the group. There are 3 permanent residents right now and one seasonal cat.

Cash and my Littlest
Carol Feral hangs out in the cat space during the winter but during the warmer weather she has been wandering more. Black and White spends her days snoozing on the John Deere tractor and during dawn and dusk hours, she slaughters every rodent she can find, LOL. She didn't know she was a hunter when she came here. Fluffy is a long haired, black female that floats in and out. We can't confirm she has killed anything but she is happy. Cash is the lone boy. He stays in the cat condo round the clock. We aren't sure why he has no wanderlust. All are safe and healthy which is our goal.    

Friday, June 13, 2014

Binding on a Spool


I have been sewing baby things for a friend. I love the anticipation of a new baby in our midst. I don't have grandbabies, so I have fun fussing over other peoples babies.


I made straight grain binding but wasn't ready to bind until the next day. I hated to wrinkle it again so I wrapped it around an empty spool. It's a little trick I read somewhere to hold binding strips. I don't recall what they actually used - I used an empty spool because it is what I had handy. It worked great! The spool would never hold enough for a bed size quilt but was great for a baby quilt.



When it came time to put the binding on the quilt, I popped the spool on the extra spool holder on my machine. It worked amazingly. I was delighted. One less thing snaking across my lap.



I made a label for the quilt using my machines embroidery features. I forgot to put the year on it though! I'm still learning my skills as a quilter :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Go Baby Go! quilt

Patchwork brightens up my space. You can see my daughters final design peeking out from underneath.
More baby sewing! In addition to burp rags, we planned a baby blanket. At first, we envisioned a smaller crib size. We shopped for fabric, tossed ideas around, then my daughter started playing with ideas on paper. We are old school and sit down with graph paper, colored pencils, crayons or markers. I'm sure the various computer programs are fabulous. However we would break the bank on ink and destroy a forest printing our ideas. We like to spread the various drawings across the table and discuss pro's and cons. The papers get passed back and forth, more drawings are created, notes made. Its a fun creative process.

All aboard!!
We found the cutest M'Liss Rae Hawley fabric at Hancocks in Oklahoma City. Its part of the Land Sea and Air group. The baby's grandpa is into trucks, motorcycles, etc so this will play into the family connection. The baby's mommy is an animal lover, so M'Liss inclusion of dogs and cats just seemed to fit so well.

The driver is wearing a mask? Helmet? 

The design is definitely leaning in a boyish direction without being too babyish.

Puppy police looks so friendly :) 
We are really loving the brightness.


I imagine the world to be so much kinder with pets in control :)



The wheels on the bus go round and round.


This blanket grew as my daughter drew. We bought a panel with 5 different transportation themed strips. It was logical to stitch a strip quilt with the addition of a million 4 patch blocks to make it pretty huge. OK not a million but a few.


She stuck with primary colors to keep things super bright and cheery. I never have a whole day to sew but it has only taken a few hours here and there to get the entire top pieced.



Up close, it is so busy my eyes cross. Back up a few feet and the strips become obvious. How do quilts play with our eyes?


There are certainly plenty of colors and shapes to keep a baby entertained for hours :)


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Baby Burp Rags


I seem to fly from one project to the next. This one I have been squelching to surprise the intended recipient. I don't blog much but friends do pop in now and then :)

Today's project was burp rags. I have done these a few times before. The mommies always tell me how much they use them, so I keep making them when we have a pregnant friend. I started this with my niece and if I had doubts, I only had to cruise her Facebook pictures to see the burp rags in almost all of her infant sons pictures. It really warmed my heart to know I gave her something she could really use.

I have experimented with the sizes trying to find what I think fits best on a shoulder. I like these best so far. I made them longer and narrower. I try to use an even yard of flannel fabric to keep this simple and inexpensive. And absorbent of course, LOL.



I cut my yard in half (18 inches) on the length. The width of the fabric was 42 inches on one piece and 43 inches on the other. I decided 10 inches wide would be good. That gives me 8 pieces of fabric per yard. Each piece measuring 10x18 inches.



Rather than making yards and yards of binding, I put 2 pieces of flannel right sides together, add a layer of low loft batting and stitch around the edges, leaving a good 3-4 inch gap for turning inside out. I do pin them due to the thickness. I also used a walking foot to stitch through the fluff.




A quick trim of anything excess then turning them is pretty easy. I use a wooden spoon handle to poke out my corners. I don't get crazy as these are functional and soft. I don't want crispy, perfect burp rags, I want something a mother feels comfortable using.



Once they are turned, I iron the snot out of them. This may sound silly but they are too fluffy to stitch. I use my iron going back and forth, up and down, almost to the edges to get everything smoothed out. then flattened. Once I feel I have a nice flattish rectangle, I iron the edges. I could slip stitch the opening closed but its just as easy to machine stitch it. I do a simple straight stitch around the whole rag close to the edge.

We used red trucks for one side and blue trucks for the other. It's a boy! 

Then I stitch at least 2 lines of stitching down the length of the burp rag. I could do more but I want this super soft, without grooves directing the baby spit down and onto mommas clothes. On today's rags, I only did 2 lines because the pattern of the fabric is a bit busy. On some striped and plain rags in the past, I did loops, flowers, whatever tickles me.



I used 2 yards of flannel and 1 yard of batting to create 8 sturdy burp rags suitable for spitty and drooling babies. It was a good afternoon of work.