Thursday, May 28, 2015

Scrappy Bookmarks

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Yesterday was the last day of school around here.  I can't believe the school year is over!  To thank Little Man's teachers we made bookmarks.  

Front 1
I used this tutorial as a guide.  However, I didn't use fabric fleece on the interior.  Instead I interfaced each side of the bookmarks with light-weight fusible interfacing and then added some sew-in medium weight interfacing to the middle (only one layer of it).  

Back 1
I made the first one by myself just to figure it out.  Little Man helped me with the second one (the one with the owl, of course).  He picked out the fabrics and helped me sew the bookmark together.  He pushed the petal and I steered.  He signed the back of each one (blurred in the photo) and we were done.  

Front 2
Another thing I did differently was to add the extra quilting to the front instead of just the top-stitching around the edges.  I felt like the bookmarks needed some random, straight-line quilting to keep all the layers together.  

Back 2
He gave the first bookmark to his teacher's aide and the second to his teacher.  They both seemed to like them.  These gifts were quick and easy and I like that Little Man was involved in the project.  

Now, on to summer!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bloggers Quilt Festival: Scrappy Greek Cross

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Amy at Amy's Creative Side is hosting her bi-annual Blogger's Quilt Festival.  I haven't participated in a while, but with a recent finish I thought I'd join in.

I made a quilt using mostly scraps.  The name of the block is Greek Cross and I used the tutorial by Fresh Lemon Quilts.  

This quilt is for my sister-in-law who is getting married soon.  When I asked her to give me a handful of colors she and her fiance like she told me green, blue, gray, and black.  I added purple after I found out that was one of the wedding colors.  I had the idea for a Greek cross quilt shortly after she told me the colors.

I spent a long time just thinking about what colors to use where, scrappy or solid, neutral or bright.  I ended up deciding on green and blue crosses, purple diamonds, and neutral backgrounds.  I used mostly scraps for the whole top.  With the exception of the purple.  I didn't have many purple scraps so I had to go into my stash for those fabrics.

For the neutral fabrics, I mostly used scraps from my I-Spy quilts.  After looking through the scraps I realized I had a large variety of tones.  It was then that I decided to organize the blocks from light to dark.  Most of the backgrounds are not the same fabric.  I wanted to keep the tones the same, but was ok with mis-matched patterns.

After I cut out the background pieces I started on the crosses.  Most of the crosses were from scraps.  A few pieces had to be cut from my stash.  Because the diamonds and backgrounds are very scrappy I wanted the crosses to be all one fabric or color.  That way they would stand out more and keep the quilt from getting too chaotic.  I made sure to pick a variety of light and dark greens and blues for maximum contrast with the background pieces.  I also decided to alternate green and blue crosses.

For the purple diamonds I didn't do much planning with those at all.  I wanted the fabrics to feel random.

I backed the quilt with a gray text print and an off-center stripe of purple scraps.  I really love the stripe.

I bound the whole thing in more purple.  Most of the binding is Dottie by Cotton + Steel.  There are a couple scraps in there too.  

I mixed it up a bit in the quilting by quilting 2"x4" rectangles rather than 2"x2" squares.  This was decision was made entirely by my impatience and my desire to be done.  Quilting is my least favorite part of making large quilts.  I don't have a ton of room and the throat on my sewing machine is not very large.  Quilting large quilts often feels more like wrestling rather than an enjoyable hobby.

I really love how this quilt turned out.  It feels very Easter-Eggy which I surprisingly like.  I also really like the purple even though purple has never been a color I'm really drawn too.  I hope Sister-in Law likes it as much as I do.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Scrappy Slipcovers

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We have a pair of chairs that were hand-me-downs.  We received them from my grandparents when they down-sized.  They are pretty nice chairs, but I wasn't thrilled with the 70's gold corduroy.  I made a slipcover for one (about 10 years ago) while the second one stayed in my parents basement (we didn't have room).

Chair 1 before                                              Chair 2 before

We recently rearranged the living room and got rid of some larger pieces that weren't being utilized and now have room for both chairs.  Instead of simply making a slip-cover for the new chair, I made slip-covers for both of the chairs.  I was getting tired of the brown floral and the slipcover was not made well. 

Chair 1 bottom
Chair 2 bottom
I had a very hard time deciding what fabric I should use.  In the end I decided to go for a scrappy, patchwork look.  I had lots of canvas scraps from various projects, but not enough for a slipcover with one fabric.  I purchased a few 1/2 yard cuts of canvas prints along with some swatches to add to my scraps.  

Chair 2                                  Chair 1 

To make the slipcovers, I referenced this tutorial by the Shabby Creek Cottage a lot.  She broke it down into parts and made the whole process pretty easy to understand.  I had some idea what to do from the first time I winged it, but wanted a refresher.  For the most part I followed the seams on the chair and that is where a seam on the slipcover went.  I pinned the fabric to the chair (right sides together) and then pinned along the seam sewing one seam at a time.  I would pin a pieces, sew, re-pin to chair, pin another piece, etc.  It was a long and tedious process.  I omitted the piping used in the tutorial because piping sucks.  It does look nice, but I was willing to forgo the added professionalism.  Also I couldn't decide what color to use.  

Sides of Chair 2
On the back of each slipcover (and the covers on the cushions) I added a zipper.  This allows the slipcover to come on and off easier and allows for a glove-like fit.  I used a canvas drop-cloth for the back.  Originally I was going to use the drop-cloth for the whole slipcover (they are very cheap and the quality of fabric is pretty good), but I knew plain canvas would bore me to tears.  

Chair 2 back

Side of Chair 1

They are great for jumping off.  Especially when you are supposed to be sitting and smiling.

I am happy with how they turned out.  I think they are too busy for most people.  I haven't gotten too many compliments from people who have seen them.  I'm ok with that.  I like them.  


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I-Spy Disappearing Nine-Patch No. Two

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After making Mini Man a new quilt, I had to make one for Little Man.  It is the same design (disappearing nine-patch) as Mini Man's quilt with an I-spy element.

All of the neutrals and prints are the same as Mini Man's quilt.  I swapped out a lot of the novelty prints.  Instead of cars, I used ninja fabric as well as a few other things he likes (Star Wars, Angry Birds, etc.).  

In Mini Man's quilt I created two large squares of the car print.  In Little Man's quilt Instead of two large squares (equal to 4 daughter squares) of novelty print I added 4 smaller squares (each equal to one daughter square) of novelty ninja print.  I also made a ninja star using Don't Call Me Betsy's paper-pieced pattern from her Lucky Star Block of the Month Club.

I backed it with a striped fabric I've had for awhile.  It is some sort of upholstery fabric; I think it is intended for drapes.  It is a little heavier than the cotton lawn that I used for the backing of Little Man's quilt. 

I again, quilted it using the multi-stitch zig-zag stitch.  I used my walking foot this time so the shifting was minimal.  I bound it in red (Little Man's favorite color).


Little Man loves it and now the bunk-beds match.  Win-win!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I-Spy Disappearing Nine-Patch

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I recently completed a new quilt for Mini Man.  Didn't I just make a quilt for him?  Yes, I did.  That quilt was backed with flannel meant for warmth in the winter.  This new quilt is backed with cotton poplin and is a lighter.  It will be much better for spring and summer.  

I've had this quilt in mind for awhile now.  I had the fabrics below pulled, but could never figure out a design. 

After purchasing some neutral prints (for a different quilt) I decided to use some of them to off-set the brightness of the original fabrics.  I thought a disappearing nine-patch would be a good quilt pattern to use.  I also added in several blue, turquoise, yellow, red, and orange prints.  A nine-patch quilt block is nine squares sewn into a three-by-three grid.  To make the block 'disappearing' you cut the nine-patch in the middle horizontally then vertically.  You can then piece together the four new (daughter) squares in whatever fashion you choose.  Typically the four small squares in the daughter blocks are placed in the corners of the new block.  Instead of piecing together the same daughter blocks from each nine-patch I spread them around to create larger areas of neutrals and color.  I didn't want a uniform pattern throughout.  

I found this tutorial at St. Louis Folk Victorian for a modernized disappearing nine-patch.  I like all the negative space in the quilt and thought I would do something similar.  I knew that all the different neutral prints wouldn't blend as well as the quilt in the tutorial (where it was all the same fabric), but I knew that all the black, white, and gray would help the bright colors stand out more.  

The tutorial illustrated five samples of block layouts to increase the variety.  They concept for each block was the same.  Four squares (of the nine) are prints, and five squares (of the nine) are neutrals.  I followed the same pattern of five neutrals and four colors, but didn't use all the same layouts in the tutorials.  I made 18 nine-patch blocks which created 72 daughter blocks.  

For the blue transportation print I wanted large areas of the fabric.  The scale of the print is somewhat large and I didn't want to break it apart into smaller blocks.  I cut two larger blocks and used them in place of four of the daughter blocks.  They were both slightly smaller than the 2-by-2 area of daughter blocks so I added extra squares to the top or bottom of each.  I added two orphan half-square-triangles to the bottom of one.  That is my favorite.  

I backed the quilt with cotton poplin prints by Little Lisette.  I found all of them at Jo-ann in the clearance bin.  They are so soft!  

My favorite is the hot air balloons.  Unfortunately, I didn't have enough to use just that print.

I tried something different with the quilting.  I have seen a lot of quilts quilted with decorative stitches.  They are quilted on regular machines using straight-line quilting.  They add interest to the quilt that straight-line quilting sometimes lack.  Since I am unable (or unwilling) to try free-motion quilting on my machine I thought the decorative stitching would be a good compromise.  Unfortunately, my machine has zero decorative stitches.  In addition to straight stitch, zig-zag stitch, blind stitch, and 'M' stitch, my machine also has a multi-stitch zig-zag which is meant for "mending, overcasting, joining, or reinforcing" as well as bar tacks.  I have never used this stitch for any of those things, but thought the stitch looked neat and would look interesting.

I started by quilting straight lines horizontally across the quilt two inches apart.  I then went back and  added a line between each to create lines one inch apart.  It looked unfinished with two-inch spacing.  I, unfortunately, has issues with horizontal shifting.  That is the biggest reason I don't like to quilt horizontally or vertically.  If I quilt diagonally I have less shifting.  I didn't use my walking foot.  I know that would help.  I don't love using my walking foot because it creates and uneven stitch length.  I'm not sure why that is, but I knew it would be much more obvious with a zig-zag stitch so I didn't use it.  I can live with a little shifting.

I used a lot of novelty prints to create a semi-I-spy quilt.

I really like how it turned out.  I think the neutrals help keep the novelty prints from being too busy.  It also helps it feel less baby-ish and more kid-ish.  Hopefully this will allow the quilt to 'grow' with him.   I'm currently working on a second one for Little Man.