Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year For...

Quilting is such a wonderful hobby because there is no limit as to what you can do. Every year you could make new quilt patterns and never run out of new styles and patterns and color combinations. Even though I tend to wear preppy drab colors (my faves are navy anything, all shades of brown, black, ivory, etc and I usually buy three of everything I like, so not much diversity there) I have an inner color-loving child who is slowly emerging and painting the world brighter. Quilting gives me one outlet for color and creativity.

Here's a New Year's Resolution of sorts for my crafty to do list.

This year I want to make:
  • a quilt with a house block in it
  • a summer picnic quilt to bring to the park
  • a Christmas quilt
  • a quilt for the library to auction
  • a charity quilt (most likely for Hospice)
  • a boy quilt
  • more skirts for my daughter with a few matching shirts with appliques
  • a matching pair of pants and shirt for the baby
  • a comforter cover for my son (he has his sister's crib-sized down comforter in petal pink)
  • an art quilt to hang up
  • a pair of pillows for my daughter's bed
  • a scrappy quilt that uses up lots of little bits
  • something that uses my dust-collecting serger
And I want to do all of this without purchasing new fabric (whites and muslin excepted) because I have enough in my stash to be able to make all of these and more. Waste not, want not, the wisdom goes.

I also want to teach my daughter how to make her own quilt, she's almost 6 and that's old enough, right???

Happy New Year! Let's look forward to a creative New Year together.

    Kilo handbag

    I followed my handbag tutorial to make this purse for Savannah.
    With accessories this cute, who needs pants!?

    It matches her Kilo skirt in Alexander Henry's 2005 line. (Ha! Modeling for her Mom before she's even brushed her hair or teeth. What a sport!)

     I was out of black fabric for the lining, so I used white cotton fabric. My fabric diet is still in effect but I'm glad to have designer fabrics on hand.

    I can't wait to see her toting sunscreen and shells in her Kilo handbag while wading barefoot along the beach!

    Now I wonder would it be too much to applique the red flower on a white shirt to make a whole ensemble? Too matchy matchy or super duper cute? I tend to think she's at the age where anything looks super duper cute.

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    Texture blanket for William

    William, like most babies, loves textures and tags. He likes to sit beneath my sewing table, we call it his fort, while I'm sewing and touch all the bits of thread and fabric that fall under the table. For Christmas this year one of his homemade gifts was a texture blanket with ribbons. It's a quilted nine patch with a log cabin style center patch. The front face of it has ribbons as well as the edges and the back is a soft fleece in navy.

    When I finished quilting the top of it I dropped it beneath my sewing table where the little guy was sitting holding onto some bits of the fleece I had trimmed away. He was more than happy to give up the scraps for his new blankie.

    I think he likes it.

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    Kilo skirt

    I haven't made anything special for Savannah in a long time and wanted to make her an early Christmas gift that she could try on now but save until our winter trip to Florida to enjoy wearing on the beach with a T-shirt or tank top.

    She picked out some Alexander Henry fabric in my stash called Kilo. It's from his 2005 collection.  She said she liked the print because it made her think of Hawaii. I paired it with some basic black cotton and lined it with the black cotton as well. I much prefer lined skirts, over the single layer cotton ones.

    The waistband is a 1 1/4" non-roll elastic, thicker than I usually use. I wanted to add a ribbon that would hang down on the side but she said she liked it plain (maybe because she just wanted me to finish asap). I think it looks snazzy! I can imagine getting away with wearing it as an evening skirt with cute black top and a pair of black Mary Jane's.

    Look out runway models, here comes Miss Savannah with attitude to spare! Here's the matching handbag.

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Quilts of 2009

    Quilts of 2009
    Originally uploaded by alwayscreatingsomething

    Here's a review of my quilts this year. Three quilt swaps, two charity quilts, four gift quilts and three keepers.

    My favorites are the Afternoon on Oahu quilt, Baby Isla's quilt and the Aloha quilt. I think I only have two WIPs at the moment which is great for me and one is a finished quilt top.

    Sew many fabric combinations, sew little time!

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    Fall Mini-Quilt Swap

    I completed my Fall Inspired Mini-Quilt for my swap partner. I didn't get a good idea of the kinds of quilts she likes from her blog, so I had to wing it. I hope she likes it.

    I selected fabrics for this quilt a long time ago but haven't had the chance to start work on it until a few days ago when I had an unexpected "opening." I'm so glad to have completed it while it's still Fall, although as I write this, snow is falling (and sticking!) outside my window. I used a simple natural muslin fabric and made a small strip of fall colors across the top (or side or bottom, depending how you look at it). Then appliqued a maple leaf in the corner. It's simple and I hope more classic than boring. I wanted to create something that could be used practically as a placemat or small table topper as well as hung, if desired. It measures approximately 15" by 18".

    I quilted it in intersecting lines - something completely new for me but I used my walking foot and took my time with it. I like the clean, modern lines of it. If I quilt in straight lines again, I think I'll use my water soluble pen or chalk to mark the lines before sewing. 

    The maple leaf I cut out by hand instead of following a template. I wish I could have used a real maple leaf as a template but I waited too long and now they're all brown and crispy or decomposing in my compost pile.

    Here's the back before I added the hanging sleeve where I signed the quilt to my swap partner. I like the binding fabric but didn't measure it out correctly this time. I cut 3 1/2" strips for the binding but 3" would have been plenty. Usually I like thinner bindings than what I added to this quilt.

    Sunday, November 29, 2009

    Aloha Quilt

    I call this quilt the Aloha Quilt because of the wild floral patterns in the fabric and bright colors. The backing is a natural muslin fabric that is also the color of sand with little speckles in it.

    It's a log cabin quilt with a four patch for the center of each block. I began by cutting a bunch of strips and squares, uncertain of how I might arrange them but I'm pleased with the final result. It's bright and cheery and had contrasting colors that a baby girl might enjoy. The fabrics are mainly from designers Amy Butler, Kaffe Fassett and Michael Miller. I used the remaining squares of fabric for the binding, sewing them into a long strip and then sewing the binding on. This is one thing I will never do again! Every two inches where I tried to shove the bulky fabric (quilt top, batting, backing, two layers of binding plus seams) under my sewing machine's foot I had a difficult time, but live and learn! It looks beautiful and used up my extra fabric scraps. There are two whites in the quilt , one in the border and a different one in the log cabin blocks, since my fabric diet is still in effect until I reduce my fabric stash to a more reasonable size. I turned the blocks a quarter turn each so they appear random, but in an orderly way. I free motion quilted it in a simple meandering pattern, the one I'm most comfortable with.

    I made it for a little girl who hasn't yet been born, Joslin Rosalie will be her name. I hope she likes it and gets years of use out of it.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Family Tree a Thanksgiving Gift

    As oral tradition becomes a lost art, I think family trees become more and more important. There are times in one's life when the only way to go forward is to first go backwards, return to one's origins. I think it is powerful to see where you've come from, the long line of those who have come before you, each contributing some role towards making your unique life possible. I like the organic form of the tree as well to portray the family lines.

    This is my Thanksgiving gift to my family - our family tree. The children appear as apples resting on the tree's roots. They are the "apples of my eye", and in our house it's true that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". I can look at the tree and trace my daughter's love for crossword puzzles, reading, and word games and our uncanny knack for finding four-leaf clovers in a field.

    Each frame is 10 x 20 because nothing else seemed quite large enough to read without squinting and standing directly in front of it.

    His side of the family tree...

    ...and her side of the family tree.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Baby texture block

    Like most babies, William loves exploring new textures and sounds. After he became obsessed with the crinkly texture of a cellophane wrapper, I decided it was time to make him a safe crinkly toy. I used some of my Katie Jump Rope scraps to make a 5" square. I added different colored and textured ribbons to the corners. Some sides are quilted for additional texture and some are not. Two sides have layers of cellophane stitched in between the batting and fabric but not completely (ie, seam to seam) so that it can still be machine washed, but not dried. There's a bell in the middle - probably his favorite part, since he's often found shaking it by the ribbons to hear the bell ring.

    We've been taking it along for car rides and giving it to him to play with on the floor at tummy time. So simple it was made in an afternoon with things on hand and he loves it!

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Hunting season hats for kids

    We have a lot of good land for wildlife, as do our neighbors, and during hunting season I worry about the kids being outdoors. Everyday we go for a walk or hike outside and spend time either near the garden, near Savannah's climbing and swinging tree or with the chickens. I tried to purchase the hunter safety orange gear for them but it's always too big. During a quick trip to JoAnn's for Halloween costume fabric, I saw a section on hunting fabrics, including safety orange fleece. I brought home a half yard of it, and turned it into silly and warm fleece hats (and mittens) for the kids. Because of the sale on fleece, this little project cost less than $3 for two hats and two pairs of mittens.

    Savannah's hat is like a jester's hat with fleece pompoms atop two points. The fleece for the ear and chin strap is double-layered so she always has the softest warmest part close to her skin. It closes with velcro that she can do herself. Both sides of her hat are the same so there's no front and back to confuse little ones.

    William's hat has one silly pompom on top and a generous brim that can be folded up or pulled down to further cover his ears. His also closes with the adjustable velcro strap under the chin. Both are easily machine washable and dryer-ready.

    I'm pretty sure it would be hard to mistake the three of us for turkey or deer now!

    PS If anyone would like me to post a tutorial or patterns for this, I'd be happy to. Just ask!

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Autumn Quilt Colorway

    This maple is the inspiration for my upcoming mini-quilt for Fall.

    Here's my fabric selection for my mini Fall Quilt. There are a few more days to join if you're interested in the Quilter's Fall Swap. I'm planning to make a mini-runner or place mat with the fabrics and to get it out as early as I can so it can be enjoyed while it's still autumn.
    The colors remind me of Savannah's tree swing under the maple's autumn dress of red, gold, chestnut and green:

     The perfect place to read her Halloween books and eat apples from the local orchard.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Online Fall Quilt Festival

    In the autumn, there's no need to look far for inspiration - the golden leaves, the pumpkins bursting off the garden vine, the orchard full of twisty trees bending to the ground under the weight of apples, the browns of the earth silhouetted against the bluest October skies. But just in case you've been too busy to notice, you can still find some inspiration here at the Online Fall Quilt Festival hosted by Park City Girl.

    Visit the Flickr group if you can and enjoy!

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    Turquoise and fuschia

    Here's a peak at the baby quilt I'm working on for a friend. The colors are her request and I have to say, they are really growing on me!

    It's my modern twist on the four- patch and the log cabin. Lots of great fabrics in this - Amy Butler, Alexander Henry, Kaffe Fassett. Yes, it's really growing on me...

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Organizing thread and fat quarters

    When you have little ones at home, the best you can hope for is an hour here and there to accomplish big tasks. I'm slowly renovating my sewing room in that way. Here's one wall that I've added two thread organizers, a handmade bulletin board, and two fat quarter shelves to.

    The fabric in the bulletin board and on the switchplate (tutorial here) match the drapes I'm making for the room. The green paint is a color taken from the fabric and I have some peg board painted a yellow from the fabric that I will also add to hold my tools.

    I love a sense of order! It's so important to see what you have when inspiration strikes.

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Swaps received

    My Friendship Bag partner was all the way around the world in Australia! Thank you Vickie. Vickie lives in a town called Humpty Doo Australia - what a name!
    It came filled with sewing goodies and fabric for me and stickers for my daughter - sparkly stickers! I received it a week ago and intended to take its photo right away but Savannah decided to use the bag to pack for one of her imaginary trips to Florida and I just found it today while cleaning her room...

    Also, I received my swap for the Good 'Ol Summertime Mini Quilt Swap from Cynthia in Missouri. She's new to quilting but created all this. I say "all" this because her mini quilt was 36" by 36", so not so mini! Thank you Cynthia and welcome to quilting!

    Saturday, September 26, 2009

    Clothespin bag

    When I was little and first saw the Hindu goddesses with four and six arms, they looked deformed to me. Now, as I take a basket of wet laundry to hang on the line, with two arms around the basket, plus a baby strapped to me, needing one arm for balance, and a bunch of clothespins that need transporting and a door that needs opening, I think having more arms would probably make me feel like a goddess too.

    Since I haven't had the good fortune of sprouting new limbs as I need them, I created a bag for my clothespins to make my life a wee bit easier. It holds 150 clothespins and has a thick wrist strap, leaving both of my hands free to do something else.

    It's great to have this on my wrist as I'm pinning up and taking down clothes from the line. The clothespins are always where I need them to be! The strap doubles as a great way to hang the bag around a door knob or hook when not in use. The entire bag is quilted for strength and stands up on its own boxed bottom.

    Made from Kaffe Fassett's fan flower fabric from my stash. I wanted something not too girly in case my husband ever has to bring laundry in from the clothesline. Some interesting notes about clothespins...

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Grocery bag dispensers

    It's nice when you can get organized and make your living space more beautiful and functional at the same time. This was a simple little project that's has helped to organize two small corners of my home - quilted grocery bag dispensers.

    This is so much better than looking at a wad of plastic grocery bags.

    I used some leftover ribbon for the loop at the top. This one hangs in the pantry near where I unload groceries. Stuff the bags in the top and pull from the bottom to dispense. I couldn't resist the Alexander Henry Apples & Pear fabric for the kitchen. Sometimes we use our fabric grocery bags and avoid the plastic altogether but sometimes we use the plastic bags,

    This one was made with Heather Bailey's Pop Garden. I used leftover double-fold bias for the top loop. We use this one upstairs in the storage closet.

    You can make your own by following the tutorial here.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Snowstorm hat for Savannah

    William got his snowstorm hat during a chilly visit to Maine, now it's Savannah's turn. I used leftover yarn from another project. It's two-tone because I ran out of the taupe but had more of the sky blue in the same Wool Ease Thick & Quick. This knit up quickly in one evening. I added the pompom and braids the next day. The pattern, which I roughly followed, can be found on Lion Brand's free pattern site (they are now all free but you will have to sign up for it) under snowstorm hat.

    My little snow bunny. She can't wait to be out in the snow sucking on icicles and building friends for Frosty.

    Here's the side view with the ear flaps. Cute and warm!

    All tied on and ready for the cold, which will be here soon enough. Really, anything looks good on her...

    Thursday, September 3, 2009

    Friendship Bag Swap

    I finished my friendship bag for my Quilting Blogger partner. I made it from Kaffe Fassett scraps leftover from Nana's Memory Quilt. This is a great bag to make with small leftover scraps or strips. Purple is the color of friendship and sharing. I'm sending this one overseas. I hope she likes it.

    The tutorial comes from Rachel at psIquilt but I did change the handle style. Instead of two small fabric handles, I made one basket-style handle that's an inch wide with batting in the middle so it feels good (solid and strong) in your hand. There are some excellent ones already made in our Flickr group with many other quilters taking poetic license too.

    I made this pincushion to send along with it and use up some more scrap fabric. The inspiration comes from Heather Bailey but I didn't follow her excellent tutorial.

    I might fill it with some extra fat quarters or squares too - anything to pass along the wealth and reduce my stash!

    Friendship Bag Swap

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Baby hat with ear flaps

    Poor baby William was so cold over the weekend I used the extra yarn I had from Savannah's cabled throw to knit him a quick hat. Initially I had made just the ribbed hat with the chunky yarn but it didn't stay on when he turned his head back and forth so I picked up some stitches on the sides to make ear flaps and added braids to them. William likes to pull and suck on the braids so they were worth adding for that alone.

    If I had to make it over again I would make one ear flap then measure for the other one. I put the ear flaps exactly halfway around the head but I should have put one about a half inch or two stitches back.

    I think he likes it!