A #ssswap Christmas

Earlier this fall, I jumped at the chance to join the Twitter #ssswap (Secret Santa Swap) organized by the lovely @sukie80 (be sure to check out her fab blog, too). I was excited but a little nervous because I knew several of the folks involved and, well, it’s a little intimidating to think about sewing stuff for some of these folks since they might rethink our friendship upon closer inspection of my handiwork.

And then I got the email with my swap partner. And my heart was filled with joy.

IMG_1497 Me with Jana at Quilt Market in Houston

I love this girl. And her family. Immediately the wheels were churning. Stalking her Pinterest only further honed my instincts. So early in December, I sent her a box containing this:

#ssswap gifts wrapped

Three little packages all wrapped up in kraft (craft?) paper and lace ribbon. Inside the packages …

#ssswap gift

A scarf made with ruffle fabric in a pretty pink to add a little pop of color to her day (based on a tutorial from V&Co. because she’d already made what I had in my head). A footstool pincushion (modified version of a pattern by the oh-so-awesome Penny) because Jana needs a safe place to keep her pins. And a Fluevog all her own to love and fondle.

fluevog mini quilt

I’m not a quilter but I have been known to try my hand at the odd quilt pattern every now and then. There is no pattern for this, however, so I pretty much made it up as I went along. I was in the middle of working on my first Don’t Look Now! pattern (more on this tomorrow) so I decided to use that appliqué technique for this one.

I started out by photographing one of my shoes, then importing it into Photoshop and printing it out at the desired size to trace off for the appliqué pieces. It is a raw-edge technique with lots of free-motion stitching around each part of the appliqué (which I’m not very good at doing) but I think that just adds to the funky quality. I used embroidery floss for the running stitches detailing the shoe and some vintage buttons to replicate the leather-covered buttons on the strap.

fluevog mini quilt detail

I finished it off by quilting in a geometric sort of ray pattern radiating out from the shoe. There’s a small line of echo quilting around the shoe and I used that and the inner border as my guide for moving between each line of quilting. I finished it off with an embroidered label on the back (backing is from Sandi Henderson’s Farmer’s Market line):

fluevog mini quilt label

It’s not a very big quilt (the background started life as a fat quarter) but it was stitched with a lot of love.

Hands-On Quilting

Thank you all so, so much for your kind words about my big announcement. All the comments, emails and tweets gave me lots of warm fuzzies and mean more to me than you can know. If you’re on Facebook, feel free to “like” the book’s page.

The end of the school year is a lot like a mini-holiday season for the crafty, since there are so many gifts to make and give. This year was especially special, since it was Miss L’s final year in preschool. Yep, extra gifts to make.

I’d love to show them all to you — but I can’t. “Why?” you ask. Because a certain someone (that’d be me) had to go work out graduation morning, then run to the store to buy gift bags and tissue paper before dashing home to shower, dress and wrap everything so we could leave five minutes late.

So what you’re not seeing are the cute monogrammed travel mugs I made for the two pastors, Spanish teacher and music teacher. Or the embroidered tote bags I made for the preschool director and the other room mom (who is truly the best room mom in the entire world). Or the cute tote bag I made for the assistant teacher, which was based on the quilt pictured here.

The teacher and assistant teacher’s gifts were from the class. I knew I was going to make this small quilt since the teacher called me last summer to tell me she would be teaching the 4s. We’d had Ms. Kathy when L was in the 2s and just loved her. She really is one of those teachers who just gives it her all and I wanted her to have a one-of-a-kind gift.

One of the things she does with the class are color days. The kids are asked to wear that color to school and she structures the whole day around it. It’s really a fun thing and I wanted to reflect that with the quilt.

I chose six rainbow colors (1/3 yard cuts) from batik fabrics and cut them into 6″ strips x the width of the fabric. The strips were then sewn in ROYGB(I)V order along the long edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance. The handprints were made by tracing around each student’s hand, then tracing that outline onto some Steam a Seam. I ironed each one on to some of the leftover batik (two in five colors and three in the sixth, since there were 13 kids in the class). Each student used an extra-fine tipped black IdentiPen to write his/her name on the corresponding handprint.

The handprints were sort of randomly arranged on the quilt top. I say “sort of” because the truly random pattern I started with and then tried to refine for 30 minutes looked pitiful. I ended up arranging half of the hands on the diagonal across the middle of the quilt, then made two rows of three hands on either side of that. The “odd” hand was plopped in the lower left corner. Looking at it now, I realize I should have made the middle row from five hands so I could put a hand in the top right corner to balance it out. *sigh* Hindsight.

After appliquing the hands to the top, I made a tasty quilt sandwich before hooping the hands and echo quilting around each one by hand. By hand, I said! Be impressed. A lot. (See detail of the echo quilting here. Lots of ooohing and aaahhhing welcome.) Sarah actually suggested the quilting and I really like how it turned out, even though it’s probably all kinds of jacked up.

She also picked out the binding for me, a really fun stripe from the Maisy fabric line. It was just perfect with the colors and playfulness of it. It’s also the best job I’ve ever done on a binding — not that I’ve done all that many. You’ll just have to trust me that there was plenty of room for improvement.

Oh, and you can’t see it but the back is this super cool green ombre fabric. I used the pen to write the name of the quilt — “Ms. Kathy’s Handful — and the date and dedication along the bottom edge near the binding. I’ve never done anything like that before and wasn’t quite sure of the “right” way to do it, but I thought it was important to include it.

This is likely awful to admit but I really hoped the gift would make her cry. She is *so* not a girly girl but I thought I might drive her there.

I was right.

Sweet Dreams

Early in 2009, I made a Sleep-Over Quilt for Miss L using some of Patty‘s first line for Michael Miller, Andalucia. I realized right away what a great gift it would make and planned to whip up some for Christmas. Little did I know that I’d be swamped with a major deadline around the holidays and would not have the chance to stick with my plan!

Of course, I wasn’t willing to give up on making at least a few gifts, especially one I thought would be enjoyed by my nieces. So I took an unexpected detour and bought prequilted fabric. It may not have the same cachet as something sewn and quilted personally, but I took a gamble that our 4- and almost 7-year-old nieces wouldn’t mind.

I found the fabric at JoAnn ETC and was surprised to see Dena Designs on the selvedge (Dena also designs fabric for Freespirit/Westminster). A quick sprint through the aisle helped me find two coordinates I could use for the pockets. (The green dot binding came from my stash.)

Originally I thought to use the trimmed quilted fabric for the straps and would just bind the edges but that didn’t quite work out the way I envisioned. Instead, I used some nylon strapping I had on hand. I’m optimistic it will hold up as well. It’s not an heirloom type of quilt, so the modification didn’t really bother me.

I added a personal touch to each quilt by embroidering the girls’ names on the outermost pocket. The personlization stitched out while I worked on the pockets, and really didn’t add any time to the project. All in all, I think I wrapped up both blankets from start to finish in one day. Not bad for a last-minute homemade gift!

Flowers for Teacher

I made this paper flower bouquet for Miss L’s teacher, as an end-of-the-year “thank you” gift. I had so much fun with it — and it was so well received by her teachers and the other parents at school — that I knew it deserved a tutorial. This one features fabric from Sandi Henderson’s Ginger Blossom line for Michael Miller. I decoupaged the fabric on the pot using Mod Podge. The rim of the pot was painted with a dark brown paint, which I sponged off a bit to give it a distressed leather look.

To make your own pretty flower pot bouquet, you will need:

  • Flower template
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Scrapbook paper (optional)
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Thin wooden dowels
  • Papier mache flower pot
  • Green paint and brush or sponge brush
  • Pot-decorating items (paint, fabric, paper, etc.)
  • Tissue paper or paper grass
  • Tulle or ribbon
  • Circle cutting tool or punch, or a circular object you can trace
  • Picture of each child, cropped to approximate circle size (2 inches is recommended)
  • Adhesive (glue dots, Xyron, glue stick, etc.)
  • 5×5-inch cube of dry floral foam
  • Paper shredder

And here’s my first video tutorial (please be kind!):