Thursday, March 13, 2014

Birthday Girl Apron

I know that all moms say that they can't believe how fast their kids are growing up, but it seems that every child's birthday sneaks up on me and catches me off guard.  My youngest just turned four this week and I barely got her present done in time.  Thanks to a husband who stood guard outside of my sewing area, I finished my daughters birthday apron just in time for her party.

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I love aprons.  They are great practical gifts, and it was high time my littlest helper got her own for when she helps me with the dishes and when she cooks in her play kitchen.

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This is a reversible pinafore apron with a crisscross  back.  I like these for little kids because they can get them on and off without anyone having to untie them.  Sorry, I didn't use a pattern for this apron, but here is a free pattern by Japanese sewing books that is similar.  You could use to get the same style.

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I love the retro coffee pots and tea kettles fabric (by blank textiles) on this side of the apron.  I added some useful pockets and decked them out with some scrap binding and bows.

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The reverse side was made from a butterfly fabric that's been in my stash for awhile now, and I scrounged up just enough apple fabric to make two pockets on this side too. I was happy with how quick this came together and my daughter is thrilled to have an apron "like Mommy's" when she helps out.

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Since I had everything out already, I went ahead and made a second apron for my niece.  I used the same brown butterfly fabric for the reverse, but did a full pocket on the front with some appliqued birds.  Since I'm trying to do at least one future Christmas gift or project every month this year as part of the Ho Ho Ho and on we sew link-up party (see my links to the right --->, I'm going to stash this away until Christmas.  I might add a child sized oven mitt to her gift too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

February Sketch

Did you think that I forgot to share my sketch for this month???  While this may be a little late for Valentines day, I firmly believe that it's always the right time to tell someone that you love them or express how grateful you are to have someone in your life.  Right now, I want to thank the whole blog community for always being so wonderful and generous.

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I hope that you like my little Robot buddy.  He's hand drawn and then colored on the computer in Adobe Photoshop Elements.  The font used for the message is called Forget me not and it can be downloaded for free personal use.

As always, I want to show you a bit of my process so that you see how a doodle can become an illustration.

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This was a doodle that I did on a scratch piece of paper.  I did a few different robots, but this was my favorite concept.

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Here is where I redrew the doodle into my sketchbook so that I wouldn't loose it.  I also refined the idea a bit more.  You can see that I first thought about doing a gauge on his chest, but then I changed my mind when I was doing my final inked image.  

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After scanning it, I decided on how I was going to color it with the help of my best buddies!  It has become a household tradition that each time I finish a new sketch, my kids get to color their own copy.  My middle son was a bit bummed that my robot didn't have a sword so he drew his own :)

You haven't seen the last of this sketch!  I have a plan for my little robot buddy; you will be seeing him again very soon.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

100 days of school toy wreath

My poor blog is feeling a little neglected this month so I think that it's time to do an update on some of the projects that I've been doing.  I have a really fun blog post in the works that I want to get out, but it's still not quite ready. So, in the interim, I want to share another fun project that I just finished up with my six-year-old.

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My middle child had to do a 100 days project at his school where he shared a collection of 100 things.  It could have been anything from 100 stickers to 100 toothpicks, but since we had just got done going through the kids' toys to weed out stuff that was going to get donated to our local thrift store, I figured that we could use a lot of those tiny toys to make his teacher a 100 days wreath.

I wrapped the wreath in black ribbon to give it a nice base before we began, and my son manned the toy bag and kept count while I wielded the hot glue gun.

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I think we managed to use every fast food, birthday party, broken, and seasonal toy in our house in order to get 100 toys to fit on the wreath.  I especially love the broken etch-a-sketch because the teacher can use a dry erase marker to write different messages on the wreath over the year.  I think that my son's favorite part was the warring army guys at the top.  

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I'm also quite pleased that everything on the wreath was reused from other projects.  The wreath form has been used in a few seasonal wreaths so far this year, the ribbon was left over from Halloween, and the toys were all from my kid's stash of tiny toys.  I do so like a project that makes me feel all thrifty.

Now that I've made this wreath for my son's teacher, I totally want one too!  It's a great way to transform cheap and old toys into something totally new and unique.  I could see it used for a birthday wreath or even a way to save and display special toys.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cranberry and Pineapple Crochet Shawl

I had a totally different post planned for this week, but I really needed to share this finish with you all before the end of the month because I'm participating in the HO HO HO and on we sew link party as a way to get motivate on my Christmas and Hanukkah gifts a little bit all year instead of freaking out in Autumn because I haven't gotten anything done.


Every month on the 18th, Mud, Pies, and pins will be hosting a link party where we can showcase our work and get inspiration from each other and the variety of guest hosts that they have lined up.  I'm really excited to have been asked to host in April, and I can't wait to see all the different projects the the other hosts have lined up.

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For January, I finished this cranberry colored pineapple shawl for a lucky family member (who shall not be named just in case).  The pattern is named, Sidewalk Shawl, and you can download the instructions for free from Red Heart. The shawl might look a bit big, but when you drape it over your shoulders in really looks quite nice and can be worn with jeans or with something much dressier.

Sorry that my pictures are a little off for this project, but for some reason the pattern and color of this shawl made it extremely hard to get any good quality shots.  Plus, in none of these pictures do you see a sock on my floor.  There is no sock on the floor; it's just a optical illusion :)

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The pineapple repeat was surprisingly easy to crochet once I got the basic pattern down.  I used 3 skeins of a worsted weight yarn aptly named "I love this yarn" in cranberry.  It's acrylic, but it's super soft and wears very well.  It's one of my favorite acrylic yarns in that weight.  

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If you decide to make this shawl I just want to warn you that you will have to block it once you're done because otherwise the pattern just doesn't show up very well when you are wearing it.  I've heard some people say that you can't block acrylic yarn.  I do it all the time with only water and pins to hold it in place and I've never had any trouble.  I also didn't put fringe on every row as per the instructions because I didn't want the fringe to over take the shawl pattern.  You could do it either way but remember to buy a bit extra because long fringe uses a lot of yarn.

I know that January is a bit early for some of us to start thinking about Christmas, but I really hope that you'll join me and link up some of the Christmas gifts and projects you are making this year.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pink Mosaics

Rachel over at Stitched in Color announced a pink themed mosaics contest sponsored by sew modern fabrics this week until the 23rd.  This is right up my alley because pink is one of my very favorite colors and almost all the projects that I've worked on since the first of the year have included pink. So, it was no hardship to peruse the pink fabrics and put together two different bundles that I'd love to win.

My first mosaic is titled "Pink is Bold" because pink is not just a soft girly color; it can be bold and strong.

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From top left to right: 1. Art Gallery Fabrics - Rapture - Vivacious Marvel - Cherry 2. Michael Miller - Birds of a Feather - Tweet - Aqua 3. Riley Blake - Simply Sweet - Sweet Quilt - Blue 4. Violet Craft - Waterfront Park - Union Station - Navy 5. Sweetwater - Noteworthy - Fly A Kite - Kisses 6. Art Gallery Fabrics - Minimalista - Optical - Watermelon 7. Cloud 9 Organics - Seven Seas - High Seas - Red 8. Lizzy House - Catnap - Kitty Dreams - Cranberry 9. Riley Blake - Flutter - Stripe - Red 10. Urban Chicks - Boho - Market - Whisper 11. Riley Blake - The Simple Life Cottons - Simple Buntings - Red 12. Thomas Knauer - Asbury - Ferris Wheel - Red


My second mosaic is called "Pink is Happy". That Heather Ross bee fabric is 
definitely making me smile right now and I love it with the Thomas Knauer Matchstick fabric too. 

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If you love pink too, go and make a mosaic and enter it in the contest.

Finishing the Pink Chevron Quilt!

For all of you that have been following along with my progress on the Pink Chevron Quilt, I'm proud to report that I buckled down this weekend and got it completely finished.  Now I can get it out in the mail so that it arrives by my sister's due date in February!

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This week my main job was finishing the binding.  Binding seems like it should be a very straightforward business, but there are still plenty if decisions to be made at this stage.  Fabric choices, binding width, straight grain or bias binding all need to be decided on.

Before even beginning this quilt I knew that I wanted to complete it with rounded corners.  It really would have looked good either way, but I like the mix of soft edges with the straight chevrons.

I also love how the backing turned out.  I tend to do a lot of pieced backings because I love the look, and also because I don't tend to have yardage in my stash.  I think that pieced backings are where thrift and design mingle. :)

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Cutting Corners:

Since I chose rounded corners, I had to make bias binding.  Straight grain doesn't like to curve around corners.  Because of this, I didn't have enough of the original fabric that I had chosen for the binding :(  Oh well, plan B!  I had more than plenty of the white on black dot fabric to make binding so it all worked out just fine :)

I was surprised that a few of my quilting friends told me that they would be nervous about making curved corners on their quilts.  I totally understand this fear.  It's nerve racking to hack off a corner of your nearly finished quilt.  But, fear not!  It's really fairly easy and you don't need special tools that you don't already have.



1. Find a bowl with a pleasing diameter and place it on the edge of your squared-up quilt.

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2. Trace the curve on all four corners.

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3. Cut on the traced line.

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See :) No worries.  It's easy.

The other worry my buddies had was binding the curve.  For some reason, this strikes fear into the hearts of some quilters because they don't want to end up with puckers and wobbly or cupped corners.  With just a little extra care curved corners can be pucker and wobble free no matter if you are hand finishing or machine finishing your binding.

Binding the Curve

1. When sewing on your curved binding it is very important not to stretch it around the curve.  Don't yank it or pull it in place because this will cause your quilt edges to cup.  Gently lay the binding flat around the curved edges while you sew.

Next you have to flip your binding to the back side in order to sew it down.  There are lots of good ways to do this, but for curves I use the glue method.  You can buy basting glue in most quilting shops, but washable school glue works just as well for this method.

2.  Place a line of glue inside of the stitch line from where you sewed on the binding.  Lay the binding over it making sure it covers the stitches and lightly press it down with a hot iron.

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This method is great for getting perfectly flat corners and does not damage your quilt at all.  If you mess up, no worries, just pull the pieces apart and re-glue.

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Now all you need to do is either hand or machine stitch your binding down and you are finished.  The glue will come out completely in the wash.

I hope that you've enjoyed this post and got a few tips that will help you in the future.  If you want to see more about the glue binding method, I recommend you watch this video by Sharon Schambers.  She has a lot of great videos on quilting that will blow your mind!

I will be doing one more post relating to this quilt next week.  I'm really excited about it and *hint* it has something to do with the label :)


Monday, January 13, 2014

Quilting the Pink Chevron Quilt

I've finally got the quilting for the pink chevron quilt completed!  I'm excited to share some pictures of the quilting with you, and I also want to take this moment to talk about another great tool that I got over the holidays.

First, Let's talk tools

I finally invested in a real pair of quilting gloves over the holidays.  This is the first quilt that I've used them on and all I can say is WOW, why oh why did I wait so long!  In my defense, I really didn't think that they would make such a difference.  I'd used a pair of garden gloves before because I'd heard that they were basically the same thing at a much cheaper price.  Wrong!

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While there are many quilting gloves on the market, I bought a pair of Machingers in the small/medium size.  They are reasonably priced at about $11 USD, and they are worth every penny.  They didn't make my hands hot, thread didn't stick to them, and those rubber tips grip the quilt better than anything that I've used before.  I'm really impressed.  

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Honestly, learn from my mistakes and don't spend your money on cheap garden gloves that just don't help you move the quilt around under your domestic machine.  It's better to save up and invest in the right tools from the start. 

Okay, now onto the quilting 

Last week, I talked about doing either an allover pattern or quiting within the chevrons.  Because no thread that I looked at went well with all the colors, I decided to quilt each chevron individually.  This let me shift between a variegated pink, a cream, and a black thread depending on the color of the chevron.
  
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This also let me play around with the quilting a lot more too.  After I stitched each chevron row in the ditch, I got to practice lines, figure 8's, swirls, loops, and flowers.

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I used black thread on the black chevrons because I thought the other colors were too contrasty.  The quilting on the black chevrons does't really show on the front, but I made sure to do something pretty on those rows because the black REALLY shows on the back.

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I thought that black flowers on the back would look better then random black squiggles.  

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I also quilted some inspiring words into one of the chevrons.  They are really subtle, but I think that they add a sweet touch to the quilt.  Just in case you are wondering, the words I wrote are kind, honest, brave, sweet, silly, and lovely.

Now onto the binding and the label!!!

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