Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Block of the Month

I met a really nice lady while visiting Country Stitches on the North Texas Quilt Shop Hop and she informed me of the shop's really-great-amazing Block of the Month that was starting in October. If you are not familiar with doing a "Block of the Month" program, they usually consist of a total of 12 blocks to complete a quilt top. Each month you come in, pay the fee (usually around $5-10 each month) and are provided the fabric and block pattern. I've never participated in one myself because, for one, I always miss the start, and two, they are usually Civil War revival stuff, which is definitely not my style (you know, that super dark maroon, navy, and dark beige look).

Well all my inhibitions went out the window when this lady told me that you pay $5 for the first block, and if you finish the block by the next month, they give you the next month's block free. And then if you finish that one, you get the next one free, and so on and so on. So you could basically get an entire quilt top for just $5!! I couldnt believe it. So I figured I join, no matter what it looked like and I could at least give it away as a gift to someone who would like it.

I was completely surprised when I found out that they were offering this cute, bright 30's reproduction. I love the bright colors and the intricate blocks...because you know I would never put the time and effort into designing blocks like these. I think one of the great things about joining a club or program at a quilting shop is that it gets you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

So here are my blocks for the 1st and 2nd month:
This is how we receive our blocks each month - a little baggie with the fabric pieces and directions for cutting and piecing the block.
It's kind of silly, but I get really excited at the beginning of each month to go in and pick up the new block. Maybe it's getting to peruse around the quilt shop for fun. Maybe it's the anticipation of a new mini project to work on. Or maybe it's just the "me" time, being able to do something I like, alone, without chasing a 2 year old around running and screaming.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last Minute Christmas Gifts with tutorials

I just wanted to drop in one last time before the holidays and give you guys some ideas of things you can make for those last minute gifts, instead of running out to the store in a frenzy. These ideas are easy and inexpensive.

Bean Bag Balls
These are great for those sport-loving kiddos who cant live without a ball in hand.
I made these for my son's 2nd birthday, and they were a huge hit. Now if only I could find the baseball and football...

For these I traced a 5" bowl and cut out two circles of fabric and two circles of interfacing for each. Iron one piece of interfacing to the wrong side of each fabric piece. Next, you add the details for each of the different balls. First use a fabric marker to mark the lines. For a basketball, baseball, or football, use a tight zig-zag stitch (the 2nd to smallest your machine will do) and just follow the lines on the fabric. For the soccer ball, I cut out 10 pentagons of black fabric, 5 for each side of the ball, and used a larger zig-zag stitch to applique them on.

Next, just put the two fabric pieces together, right sides facing, and sew around the circle leaving a small opening for turning. Turn the ball the right side out and fill. You can use rice, dried bean, etc. but I chose to use Poly Pellets so the balls would be washable. Lastly, just stitch the opening closed.

These are so incredible easy to make and only use small scraps of fabrics. It would also be great to use non-Christmas fabrics for year round use. And you can make them whatever size you want. Mine ended up around 4".

I cut strips of fabric about 1-1.25" wide by 4.5" long, batting 4" square, and backing 4.5" square. Lay your first strip of fabric, right side up, on top of your batting, overlaying the fabric about 1/4" around the edges of batting (so that the batting doesnt cause extra bulk in the 1/4" seam.) Lay the second piece of fabric right side down on the first piece, lining up the edge with the first fabric and stitch a 1/4" seam allowance, going through the two fabrics and the batting (the two fabrics on top right sides together and batting on the bottom.) Fold the 2nd fabric open and press.

Keep adding more pieces of fabric until your coaster is covered. Square up the top, by triming any excess on the edges. Next place the pieced top, right sides together with the backing material and sew around the coaster, leaving a small opening for turning. Clip the points off of the corners (to eliminate bulk) and turn the coaster right side out. Iron flat and stop stitch around the edge with a 1/8" seam.

For ideas on other fabric coasters, visit the Sewn Fabric Coasters Flickr Group.

Black Apple Dolls
These new modern-faced dolls are all the rage. The Black Apple brand originated on etsy as artwork. I was so excited when I saw that Martha Stewart crafts showcased these dolls, with templates included! They are soo simple and can be made in so many different ways by changing the hair color, facial expression, accessories and clothing, you might find yourself making these every year. No little girl would ever get tired of them! Click here to go to the tutorial.

Fabric {paper} Chain
Paper chains are a favorite around the holidays for children. Why not make them more eco-friendly, much more attractive, and not have to re-cut those darn paper strips every year (I dont know about you, but I hate having sore-scissor hand!) Ashley from Film in the Fridge was brilliant when thinking of these. Just small fabric tubes with velcro! I cant wait to make one next year. These would also be great to use with kids for counting down to any exciting event, like birthdays, other holidays, and vacations! Click here to go to her tutorial.

Fabric Alphabet
A GREAT educational homemade gift! This would make a great gift for kids aged 1-5 years old. They can be used to learn letters, sounds, the alphabet, spelling and much more. These do take a little time to make, but are well worth it. I've just made the A and B so far, but am planning to finish the rest of the alphabet for a Christmas gift to my son. To make these just use any word processing software ( like Word) and print out the alphabet in large letters (I did mine landscape with two per page, so they're about 7" tall.) Layer your top fabric, batting (cotton preferably), and a backing material (I use inexpensive white muslin.) Trace your letter on the material and cut a 1/4" outside the lines, cutting all three layers at once. Stitch on your drawn line, then cut slits all along the edge, cutting as close to the stitching line as possible without actually cutting through your stitches. Wash and dry to get the nice ragged edge.

I hope these tutorials help you with this crazy time of year! I wish you all a very merry Christmas! And I cant wait see you back here in the new year with many more great tutorials and ideas for you to try out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quilting using a Walking Foot

I wish someone would have opened my eyes up to the wonders of the walking foot a long time ago. It's not just for quilting. It's great to have for many other sewing/crafting projects. In really basic terms, it helps feed all the layers through your machine evenly. When sewing with a regular presser foot, your bottom layer is pulled through with the feed dogs but your top layer is dragged beneath the presser foot. A walking foot raises itself up and then sets back down with every stitch of the needle. So the top layer is feed through at the same rate as the bottom. It is especially great to use with fabrics that are stretchy.

If you haven't worked your way up to free-motion quilting, you can still easily quilt your own quilts, instead of paying some else to do it or tying them. In fact, a lot quilters use a combination of free motion quilting and straight stitching (with a walking foot or darning foot.)

It is so incredibly easy to quilt using the walking foot. If you can sew a straight line (or not even a straight one!), you can quilt. That's all there is to it. Below are some quilting examples that can be done using a walking foot. (Look closely at the stitching to pick out the different quilting styles.)

Cluck Cluck Sew's quilt for her son's bed

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New to the Shop!!

I've had these floating around in my head for a while now and have finally made them. Enjoy!