Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Scramble

Christmas is in just a couple days and while I'm still not completely ready, I did get some fun handmade projects done in the last week. As promised to my kids, we made our traditional holiday cut-out cookies. It's always fun to have the kids help roll out the dough and sprinkle on the decorations. These are my favorite cookies and over the years, I've honed my recipe for the cookies and the frosting to be just what I like. You can find the recipe here.
While I was already making cut-outs for Christmas, I also made these cute "A" cookies for my niece's 1st birthday party which we celebrated this past weekend.
And for the birthday girl, I made her a new blankie using the same method that I show in my lightweight baby blanket tutorial.
I used mini corduroy on one side and bumpy minky on the other. Both sides have softness and texture which little ones like at her age. I think little "A" will like it.
With less than 24 hours before we travel again for Christmas, I'm still scrambling to get a few things done. That includes this scarf for my dad that I think I've been working on for a good three years. It was supposed to be a gift for him last Christmas, but I ran out of time. So, I am hoping that along with his quilt, I can finally give him this scarf as well.
Blessings and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cherry Christmas Quilt: Finished

The hope of having my Cherry Christmas quilt done earlier last week came and went like a blink of an eye. I had to set it aside for a few days to get some other holiday projects complete, so it took me longer than I expected. However, the entire family is now thoroughly enjoying the comfort of this quilt.
You can read my earlier posts about this quilt here and here. It finishes at 58"x72" and is made up of 4" half square triangles and 4"quadrant type squares.
For the backing, I used a super soft solid, charcoal-colored minky and quilted 1/4" from each horizontal and vertical seam with gray thread.
I did add cotton batting, so between that and the heavier minky backing fabric, it's a wonderful weight for these cold Wisconsin winter days. I also entirely machine-stitched the binding, which isn't something I typically do. Normally, I machine-stitch the binding to the top and hand stitch it to the back, but I don't think that would have been a good idea with the minky. My friend Ann showed me how she stitches her binding to the back first and then finishes it by machine-stitching it down on the front. I've tried other methods in the past with mediocre results, but her way seemed to be a great method for this type of quilt.
And because I finished the quilt before Christmas this year (yay!), I decided to use it in our family Christmas photos. Here are a couple from the shoot.
I seem to have been in great denial about when Christmas was this year, because I am SO not ready. Besides, my dad's quilt, I don't have any other presents made or purchased and we are visiting with one side of the family already this weekend...panicing! I promised my kids we'd still make cookies too. I vowed to keep this year simple and low key, so I just have to keep that in mind. I'm just glad I got my Cherry Christmas quilt finished.

Happy Holidays!
LINKED TO:
Quilt Story for Fabric Tuesday
Blossom Heart Quilts for Sew Cute Tuesday
I Have to Say for Show and Tell Tuesday

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Bunting Tutorial

In case you missed my post yesterday over at the Quilt Story blog for their Holiday Tutorial Series, I'm reposting my tutorial for this Christmas bunting. It's the perfect decoration for your fireplace mantel or just hanging on the wall. Please enjoy!
SIZE:
Approximately 4" x 78"

MATERIALS:

  • Print out of templates (see below materials list)
  • 1/2 yard cotton linen blend or enough scrap fabric to make 15 banners (I used Robert Kaufman Essex Linen Blend in Natural)
  • Cotton print scraps for 14 letters, at least 3" x 3" in size
  • Small amount of green and red cotton print scraps for holly leaves and berries
  • Paper backed fusible web for light to medium weight fabrics
  • 3 yards cotton twill or polyester ribbon, 7/8" wide
  • Dark brown thread
  • Thread that blends with the ribbon color
  • Small scissors
  • Large scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Clear acrylic ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Straight pins
  • Pencil
  • Ink pen or water soluble pen
  • Starch (optional)
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine (is that too obvious?)

ASSEMBLY:


STEP 1:  Click on the image below to download the template pages. Print page 1 on either copy paper or white card stock. I recommend printing page 2 on card stock since it helps to have a stiffer paper for the banner template.
STEP 2:  Lay a piece of fusible web, rough side down/paper side up, on top of the template page. With a pencil, trace all the letters, as well as the holly leaves and berries, from pages 1 and 2. It's a good idea to identify the direction each letter should be by marking them with an upward arrow. Some are more obvious than others. No need to trace the banner template on page 2.
STEP 3:  Cut out the letters, holly leaves and berries outside the traced lines.
STEP 4:  Place each letter on top of the fabric print you've chosen. You must place the rough side of the fusible web onto the wrong side of the fabric.
STEP 5:  Fuse the paper and the fabric together using your iron and the manufacturer's instructions for the fusible web. For Wonder Under, I use the wool setting with no steam. I press in 8-10 second intervals, two times. Let cool.
STEP 6:  Using your small scissors, cut out the letters, leaves and berries along the pencil line.
STEP 7:  Go back to page 2 of the template and cut out the banner template along the black lines if you haven't done so already. Using an ink or water soluble pen, trace around the banner template onto the linen fabric and cut it out. Make 15 banners.
If you have yardage instead, cut 7" wide pieces and place the template in a row as shown below. This is a big time-saver.
STEP 8:  Using the end of a straight pin, gently score the paper on the letters, leaves and berries and remove the paper.
STEP 9:  Center each letter on a banner. I recommend temporarily placing the ribbon on the top of the banner so you can see where the center is once the ribbon is attached.
STEP 10:  Fuse the letter to the banner with your iron in the same manner in which you adhered the fusible web to the fabric.
STEP 11:  Using the dark brown thread, stitch around the letter catching just inside the edge of the fabric. You'll want a small stitch length. I set mine to 2. If you are new at doing this, I recommend setting your sewing machine speed to low until you get the hang of it. I went around each letter twice. Your stitching does NOT need to be perfect, so don't sweat it if you veer off course a little. Believe me, mine are not perfect and I like them that way.
Here is what it will look like.
Use a hand stitching needle to bring your loose top threads to the back of the banner. Tie the threads into a knot to secure and trim.
STEP 12:  Stitch around the edge of the banner in the same way you did the letters. I made my stitch length a little longer for the borders and stitched approximately 1/16" to 1/8" in from the edge. Repeat these steps for all the letter banners.
Here is how you will lay out the holly leaves and berries. Leaf 1 is on the left and Leaf 2 is on the right.  Press to fuse the fabrics as before.
Here is how you can stitch it.
STEP 13:  Take your 3 yards of ribbon and lay it out straight on a flat surface. Measure in 16" and place your first banner. Align the top of the ribbon with the top of the banner and pin in place. Do the same for the rest of the banners, leaving a 1" space in between each banner. The holly leaves and berries banner is placed in between the words "MERRY" and "CHRISTMAS". Using thread that blends with the ribbon, sew along the top and bottom edges of the ribbon along the width of the banner. Continue to sew the ribbon onto all the banners. Clean up loose threads.
STEP 14:  I like to force my end tails in the right direction by sewing them down, especially if I am using ribbon that is printed only on one side. To do this, you're going to make a corner like you would if you were binding the corner of a quilt. Start by bringing the ribbon tail up and over itself to create a triangle. Leave about a 1" space between the banner and where you are creating this fold.
Fold the ribbon back down onto itself so that the printed side is on top. Pin in place and sew down where the ribbon layers meet. At this point, you can trim your tails to be the same length.
STEP 15:  By this time, you've handled your bunting pieces quite a bit which means the banner tails may be curling a little. I like to spray a light coating of starch on the banners and press flat before hanging. If you prefer stiff banners, you could probably add interfacing to the back side of each banner.

STEP 16:  Turn on some Christmas music, pour some eggnog, hang the bunting (careful not to drink too much eggnog before this step or it might be crooked), step back, give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy your new holiday decoration.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cherry Christmas Quilt: In Progress

Hi all! I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I know I did. I'm wishing I was more prepared for the upcoming Christmas holiday, but things are moving slowly here. I have made some progress on my Cherry Christmas quilt and I thought I'd share a little of it with you today. Along with trimming my Christmas trees, I've been busy trimming, trimming and trimming my quilt blocks.
I hadn't finalized a design when I last posted about starting this quilt here. And honestly, I don't have the greatest visual quite yet of how it's going to turn out. What I have so far are two types of blocks -- these sort of quadrant type blocks and half square triangles that have been paired with a gray and white polka dot print.
I can't get over how cute these illustrations are.
So that's it. That's all I have to show for right now. Let's face it, it's a busy time of year. I'm hoping to wrap this project up within the next week so that my family can enjoy it before the holiday is over.

How are your holiday projects coming along?

Thanks for stopping by!
Linked To:
Quilt Story for Fabric Tuesday, Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday, and Blossom Heart Quilts for Sew Cute Tuesday. Head on over to these sites to see some great finished and in progress projects.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cherry Christmas Quilt: Getting Started

I'm continuing my holiday sewing, but this time it's a quilt for me and my family. I've had these charm packs of the Cherry Christmas collection by Aneela Hoey for well over a year now.
I had good intentions of making a Christmas quilt with these last year, but I just didn't have time with all the other holiday gift sewing I was doing. This year, I vowed to get this one done before Christmas arrives.

This is a very popular holiday collection, and rightfully so. I love the colors of red, green, white, aqua and gray, as well as the sweet illustrations.
I'm still working on my final design but I know I want to go with something simple that highlights the illustrations.

I hope all of you celebrating Thanksgiving have a wonderful holiday. I'll be back soon with an update.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dad's Quilt: Finished

My dad's quilt is complete, which also means I finished my first (and largest) holiday gift and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. Not too shabby. You can read my previous posts on this quilt here and here.
I am really happy with the results, but will admit that I was slightly skeptical when I was arranging the blocks.  As I was putting them together, it dawned on me that the color scheme may bring my dad back to the 70's when I was born. I mean, I used the terms rust, olive and mustard to describe some of the colors, but they could arguably be called burnt orange, avocado and goldenrod. I'm having a shag carpet flashback into my childhood bedroom. With all the additional neutrals, however, it didn't take long for me to get past it--and love it!

I ended up increasing the length to accommodate my dad's height so now the quilt measures 60" x 78" -- a great size for his afternoon snoozes on the couch. The quilt is made up of 520 half square triangles that finish at 3" each.
I quilted it with a straight stitch 1/4" from each vertical and horizontal seam.
Due to my last minute decision to increase the length, I needed to add a scrappy border to the bottom with some of the leftover prints.
The main backing fabric of woodland deer is a subtle, personal touch for my dad who is a hunter and nature-lover.
I'm crossing my fingers that he likes it.