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.  


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Knitting Needle Holders

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For Christmas Husband gave me a set of interchangeable circular knitting needles.  The set came with nine sets of needles and four cables (in two lengths).  The set came in such a nice case that I was inspired to make cases for the rest of my needles.  

I used the needle case I made for my Mother-in-Law ages ago as my starting point.  I adjusted the size of each case based on the size and quantity of needles I had for each set.  

I started with my 10" straight needle set.

It was made the same was as my Mother-in-Law's case.  

I made the set for my 12" straight needles next.  I have no idea why I have two set of straight needles.

After I made the first set I realized I could use ribbon as a closure rather than sewing a strap with Velcro.  Ribbon was easier to attach.  

Lastly, was the set for my double-pointed needles.  This was probably the most challenging as far as getting the spacing of the pockets right.  

It is also my favorite.  I love those sheep.  

I had to add an extra piece of Velcro in the middle to keep the fold down.  This case is longer than the others, and the fold wouldn't stay in place, otherwise.  

All three sets are now organized and ready to go.  I made these back in January.  After I received the circular needle set I started knitting a sweater.  I was rather enthusiastic about it and have the yoke finished and had just started on the body of the sweater.  Then the weather warmed up and I lost all interest.  I don't know why, but knitting just feels like a cold-weather activity to me.  Which makes no sense because I'll want the finished product (a sweater) when it gets cold again.  And its not like we haven't had any cold days this spring.    Maybe I'll pick it up again when it gets really hot.  

At least my needles look nice now.


Monday, April 13, 2015

R2D2 clothes

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Little Man is currently into Star Wars and especially loves R2D2.  For his birthday I made him an R2D2 outfit so he can dress like his favorite droid.  

I started with the shirt and used my Ringer Tee pattern and old t-shirts for the fabric.  That is why the back and sleeves are blue, but the front piece is white.  I didn't have enough of one shirt to make it all the same color.  I don't love how it looks, but I think having the control panel on the front helps.

I used t-shirt paint and freezer-paper to create the stencil for the control panel on the front of the shirt.  To make the control panel stencil I drew it using my eye and our inflatable R2D2 as a guide.  The paneling is not to scale (relative to each other) which kind of drives me crazy now.  At the time I was feeling impatient and didn't want to take the time to measure everything then calculate the scale, etc.  I think it looks ok, but not as good as it could have.  I also had issues with paint bleeding through the sides of the stencil so some of the lines aren't super-straight.  That drives me more crazy than my lack of scale.  

I made his hat next.  I made a hat pattern based on his measurements, but instead of using four triangular patterns for the crown of the hat I used six.  This helped with the buttons/paneling since R2D2's 'head' is divided into six sections.

The buttons/panels were added using freezer-paper stencil (blue) and applique (red, yellow, black).  Again, it is not to (relative) scale.  I think it looks better than the shirt, however.

Finally, I made him some pants using R2D2 fabric.  I used the Nightfox Pants pattern by Puperita.  I love this pattern and have used it several times before.

Because of my crummy execution of the shirt and hat I dubbed these clothes jammies when I gave them to Little Man.  He didn't notice my poor execution and if he would have he probably wouldn't have cared.  Perhaps, I'm being a bit of a perfectionist.  He loves it and even wears the hat to bed.  If he's happy, I'm happy.  


Monday, April 6, 2015

R2D2 Birthday

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Little Man turned 6 recently.  Six!  Time is flying by.  It's a little cliche, but it really does feel like he was a baby yesterday.  

 I made him an outfit to wear on his birthday similar to Mini Man's.  Little Man got R2D2 on his shirt.  The pants are the same as Mini Man's.  The shirt was made using my Ringer Tee pattern.  I found the R2D2 image here.  It is a free .svg file.  I used ink-jet transfer paper to add the image to the shirt.  It was much more successful than my master builder shirts.    It is a little faded, but looks ok.  

I freezer-paper stenciled a '6' to the back.  

The pants are the same as Mini Man's.  I used the Aviator Pants pattern by WinterWear Designs.  The pants were made using a synthetic-fiber pique with cotton Star Wars fabric on the pockets.  The pockets are my favorite part

Here are the two birthday boys together.  

Stop growing so quickly!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Nintendo, cont.

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After a veeery long break (18 months) I made two more Nintendo blocks.  You can see my previous blocks here, here, here, and here.  

I am (slowly) using the  Super Mario Brothers Quilt Along hosted by Angela at Cut to Pieces.  There are twelve blocks in the original QAL and I am adding eight (of my own design) more for a total of twenty.  These are blocks #15 and #16.  


To be honest, I'm very ready to be done with this quilt.  Piecing billions of tiny squares is not my favorite.  And my stabilizer has lost most of it's stickiness.  I can only assume that is because it is old.  I've used glue-sticks and spray adhesive as a supplement.  If I hadn't already cut all the squares I'd probably just quit and finish the quilt with the blocks that I have.

Four more to go.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015


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Last week our family took a trip to Kansas City.  To celebrate the boys' birthdays we visited Legoland.  The boys (and especially Husband) love Lego bricks and a day does not go by that they are not building.  Of course, I had to make clothes for the occasion. 

I started with t-shirts.  I designed the 'Master Builder' graphic using Inkscape.  Husband's shirt has the graphic alone, while the boys by have 'In training' written below.  I originally used inkjet-transfer paper to add the graphics to shirts that I made.  The transfers did not work well at all. They were faded in parts and in general pretty crappy looking.  I ditched the shirts and started over.

I ended up ordering shirts from Vistaprint (after uploading the image).  They don't have toddler sizes so for the boys I ordered shirts that were a couple sizes bigger.  I then used my Ringer Tee pattern to size the shirts down to a better fit.  

I also made a shirt for myself using a pattern I made for myself.  I found images of  Lego bricks online which I then copied into Inkscape.  I converted the images to vectors and then arranged them as shown.   I used inkjet-transfer paper for my shirt and it turned out fairly well.  It looks a little faded, but I think it looks more aged.  It seems to work best for black-and-white only.  


I made the boys' pants using the Oliver+S Field Trip Cargo Pants pattern.  I used rip-stop cotton fabric for the pants and omitted the cargo pockets.  I love how they look with the rip-stop.  They don't seem to wrinkle much.  I had some extra Lego bricks from my inkjet-transfer paper so added them to the back pockets.  

Before I made the shirts I didn't realize Master Builders were real things employed Lego.  I was a bit worried about Husband wearing the Master Builder shirt (and not being a Master Builder). Although if you ask me, his skills are equivalent to a Master Builder.  He got a couple funny looks from employees at Legoland and one awkward comment, but for the most part it was fine. Perhaps I should have called him a journeyman builder?  Everyone that saw the boys' shirts thought they were great.

To salvage the botched transfer shirts I appliqued Lego Movie shirts for the boys.  

Mini Man got Benny.
Little Man got Emmet
Everything is awesome!

Legoland was pretty awesome and the boys had a fun time.