LAX Love

We interrupt the belated Quilt Market blog posts to share something else entirely.

So, part of the reason I am so tardy in getting around the Market blogging is because I came home from SLC and had a slew of end-of-the-year gifts to finish, including this lacrosse quilt. (I also had to create and burn the end-of-season DVD for the lacrosse teams — 103 discs, to be exact — at the same time I was finishing the binding on this quilt.)

This is only the second year our high school has had a lacrosse team and much of the credit for getting it off the ground goes to one family. A family whose son just graduated and will be moving back to SLC this month. Lacrosse has been such a great thing for my son and I wanted to show this family how much I appreciated it, so I decided to turn the logo they designed into a quilted wall hanging for them.

About three-fourths of the way through making this, I realized it was so big that it was better as a team/booster club gift to the family. Folks, it’s big. The white is one full yard of fabric. I think the center shield and panther are about 24 inches. This is a level of applique I’ve never tried before and I’m not sure it’ll be repeated any time soon.

The applique is layered and done reverse style, for the most part. I actually sewed the shield together to meet in the center then cut out the shield shape. I used an X-acto knife to cut out the finer applique details and adhered it to the backing with Steam-A-Seam. And Heat n Bond. For the record, I don’t recommend mixing adhesives but I was in a time crunch and trying to use what I had on hand. (I also don’t recommend leaving paper in the middle of your applique design but YMMV.)

I did a tighter zig-zag stitch in gray around the shield and panther head to somewhat mimic the shadow effect of the logo. The remainder of the stitching is done with a straight stitch in thread to match each area. Finally, I quilted around the shapes  in a subtle echo effect.

I was so blown away with the finished product in sort of an “I made this? *I* made THIS!” kind of way. (It looked much better when it was ironed but I pulled it out of the gift bag to photograph on our way to the banquet.) The folks at the banquet thought it rocked and the recipients were just blown away, which definitely made the work worth it.

Embellished

Our niece celebrated her fifth birthday in the middle of July. And I was late getting her present in the mail. Embarrassingly late. Not just in mailing but in making — or, rather, deciding what to make.

I hate being struck by indecision, but especially when it means that I miss a birthday because I can’t making up my freaking mind. *sigh* And then it hit me: Why not make her something from … my book? As soon as I considered it, I knew exactly what I’d make: one of the skirts with a tee to match and maybe some kind of hair thingy.

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner, folks!

Seriously. Once I decided what I was going to do, I knew the perfect fabric (Patty Young‘s Flora & Fauna) for the skirt and trusted that the rest would just fall together. I thought I’d use a white T-shirt but happened upon the most perfect coordinating shirt at Target. I couldn’t believe how well it matches! It’s like it was meant to be. Meant. To. Be.

You may have noticed that the skirt isn’t visible in the above photo. That’s because I can’t show it to you yet. I did, however, take a full-length picture of Liesl modeling the entire outfit to share with you when I can. In the meantime, let me tell you a little more about the shirt and headband.

The skirt uses a border print fabric and I ended up with a nice chunk of polka dotted scrap after I cut out the pieces. It took no time at all to cut a few bias strips from it, sew them end to end and then finish the two ends (serged then turned under and topstitched). I left the edges unfinished — in theory, they shouldn’t fray — then sewed two parallel rows of gathering stitches so I could create the ruching detail. I just followed the curve of the neckline, then sewed it down with a zig-zag stitch.

I opted for the bias-cut ruching and zig-zag sewing because of the curved shape but also because that fabric needs to be able to stretch when the shirt is pulled over the head. Make sense?

The headband was another stroke of luck. It came in a three- or four-pack of headbands (Goody brand, also at Target) and was a great match for the aqua. I simply used my Clover Yo-Yo Maker to whip up a fabric yo-yo with some of the leftover scraps, then fussy cut one of the bees from another fabric to make the covered button for the center. A few hand stitches and voila! A fun, coordinating headband that completes the head-to-toe look.

Dusting Off The Paperweight

I love my embroidery machine but I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t get nearly enough love. And by “love” I mean “use.” It’s just not something I necessarily think about when I’m planning a sewing or crafting project. I’m trying to be better about that and am really happy with a couple of recent projects that required my embroidery machine.

A friend asked if I could make her daughter’s first-birthday-photos dress. Of course I said yes! I actually made matching dresses, one for K and another for her older cousin E. The dresses are identical Miss Madelines (by The Handmade Dress) with the girls’ initials embroidered on the aprons.

As soon as I saw this cool #1 Teacher badge on the SWAK Embroidery newsletter, I knew it would be the perfect thing for Teacher Appreciation Week at Miss L’s preschool. I’ve never done an in-the-hoop project before, so I was a little nervous. But the badge stitched out perfectly on the first try! I’m so glad I have this file now, because I can definitely see using it again and again.

Sweet Goodbyes

I come by my craft addiction via my mother, who tried anything and everything under the sun. Back in the day (and by “the day” I mean the 1980s), she even experimented with molding chocolates and shared some of her supplies and expertise with me. OK, maybe “shared” isn’t quite the right word. More like “I snuck into her supplies and used them when she wasn’t home.”

Thanks to Bakerella, I’ve been making regular trips to the Cake Art Party Store. It is ridiculously close to my house. Maybe dangerously close, especially since I can never walk out of there with less than a dozen things. (Again glad that Honey does not read my blog!)

I stopped in this week to pick up something and stumbled upon the cutest chocolate sewing mold. Knew immediately it would be an awesome gift for my friend Clare, whose last day at the quilt shop was today. So, in spite of the fact that I had zero time to do it and a lack of supplies, I decided to make her an edible sewing box.

The results would have been a great deal better had I taken my time and used the right supplies. A small brush is really necessary to paint the mold with the colored chocolate, especially those tiny thread spools. I didn’t think it was too bad, given that the last time I played with chocolate was when I was a teenager (and, no, we are not going to talk about how long ago that was).

I took it to Clare at the shop today and totally blew her away. “It’s too cute to eat!” she said. And then popped a tiny spool of thread in her mouth. (Yes, it tastes as good as it looks!)

That’s the kind of goodbye I can handle. The sweet kind.

Checker This Out

Probably the biggest challenge of my crafty Christmas has been coming up with gifts appropriate for the guys in my life. And of that category, the next challenge was coming up with something for little boys — specifically, my almost-7-year-old nephew. Last year, I made him a cool knight’s cape and shield, so I really didn’t want to make him any dress-up stuff for this Christmas.

And then … epiphany. I remembered a neat play quilt I saw on the floor at Intown Quilters. I hadn’t looked at it too closely but I did notice that it featured a checkerboard, complete with fabric checkers. (I found out later from Sarah is that it’s a free pattern from Michael Miller Fabrics, Checkers in the Garden.)

To make your own checkerboard blanket, you’ll need three fabrics. I think I bought one yard of the main fabric (used for the border  and the back of the blanket) and a half yard each of the other two fabrics (used for the checkerboard and the closing straps). You also need fusible fleece (my piece measured 26.25″x26.25″) and Velcro (I bought a package with three sets of pre-cut squares).

Using your rotary cutter and ruler, cut your two fabrics for the checkerboard into four 3″ strips. Set the excess fabric aside.

Lay out your fabric strips, alternating the two fabrics. Stitch together with a 1/4″ seam and press all the seams in the same direction. Use your rotary cutter and ruler again to cut eight 3″ strips across  your sewn striped panel.

Pick up every other strip and turn it to the opposite end so that you form a checkerboard pattern with the strips. Sew the strips together with a 1/4″ seam and press the seams in the same direction.

From your third (main) fabric, cut two strips that measure 3.5″x20″ and two strips measuring 3.5″x26.5″ (before cutting, you may want to measure your checkerboard to make sure the numbers are correct for your project).

Match the long edges of the 20″ strip to the left and right sides of your checkerboard, then sew together with a 1/4″ seam. Press the seams toward the border pieces. Next, match the long edges of the 26.5″ strips to the top and bottom edges of the checkerboard and shorter border pieces. Sew them together with a 1/4″ seam and press the seams toward the border. Set aside.

Use your rotary cutter and ruler to cut two 3.5″x12″ strips from one (or both) of your reserved checkerboard fabric. Match the long edges of one piece, right sides together, and sew with a 1/4″ seam. Position the seam in the center of the tube and press open. Repeat with the other strip. Put the sewn tubes on your cutting mat and use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut 4″ from one end of each tube. Sew closed one end of each of the four pieces, then turn each tube right side out and press.

Place one short and one long tube together, right sides together, and match the raw edges. Baste near the raw edge. Set aside.

(Before cutting these next pieces, measure your bordered checkerboard to make sure the numbers match your project.) Cut one piece of fusible fleece and one piece of your main fabric to 26.25″x26.25″. Follow the fusible fleece directions to adhere it to the wrong side of your bordered checkerboard.

Next, lay the fleeced checkerboard right side up on your worktable. Grab the pair of attached tubes and place the first pair so the inside edge lines up with the right edge of the second row of checkerboard. Pin in place (the raw edges of the tube should line up with the raw edge of the border). Place the remaining pair on the opposite side of the checkerboard, with the inside edge lined up with the left edge of the seventh row of checkerboard. Pin in place, then baste both straps to the border.

Place your main fabric square (the one that allegedly measures 26.25″ square) with the right side on the top of your checkerboard. Pin together and sew with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a 4″ gap on one side (no more than 2 inches from any corner) so you can turn your board right side out. Trim the corners, making sure not to clp into the stitches. Pull the fabric right side out through the gap, then press, making sure to turn under the edges of the gap. Topstitch around the perimeter of the blanket, close to the edge. (Be sure to move the straps out of the way as you topstitch!)

Measure over 3/4″ from the edge of the shorter strap and pin one of the Velcro tabs to the piece, then stitch it down. (The seam of the tube should be on the underside of the strap.) Repeat with the other shorter strap. Repeat the measurement and Velcro application with the longer strap, except you’ll need to sew it to the seamed side (and make sure that you pair up the hook and loop pair appropriately, or else the straps won’t hold closed). Now you’re done! You can roll up the checkerboard and fasten it closed with the straps.

I made my checkers by tracing 2.5 inch circles on a piece of fleece, then embroidering a crown (the design came with my Babylock Emoré)  in each circle (actually 12 crowns on each of two colors of fleece). I stacked the embroidered fleece on a sheet of plain fleece, then sewed within the circle to secure the pieces together. I used the traced circle as my cutting guide for each checker.

An Armful

Only one week until Christmas and I think I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m fairly certain it’s not an oncoming train, too.

My goal of makingg many of my Christmas gifts has turned out pretty nicely. There are a few things that aren’t going to be done (no way I’m going to be able to make one, much less two, kilts in a week) but I’ve gotten so much accomplished.

Here’s an armful of my sewing projects, before I started boxing and wrapping. I still can’t believe I made all of those purses! By my count, I’ve sewn around 15 purses. Granted, they didn’t happen all in one day (or week, or even one month), but I’m still pretty pleased with the results.

Somehow in all this sewing I still have avoided making a purse for me! LOL! I’m hoping to rectify that once I get done with the last of my Christmas sewing, but I’m not holding my breath.

I also made a few — OK, about a dozen — coffee cup cozies. I reverse engineered based on a cardboard sleeve from Starbucks and love how they turned out. I used Insulbrite and they keep things nice and cozy. If you want to make some yourself, then check out this great tutorial (which I found after the fact).

And I’ve got to share one more purse, another Melly & Me pattern. I think I’ve had my eye on this pattern since it came out but never added it to my collection until after we came back from Market and Sarah had stocked it at the shop.

I think it’s easily the largest purse I’ve ever sewn. To give you some perspective, it’s hanging on my size 4/5 children’s mannequin. Definitely the bag for the gal who carries everything on her shoulder. The pockets are nice and roomy, too.

The embroidery and applique were all done by hand, which took a little while. Oh, but it’s so worth it! And I think the gift recipient agrees: she immediately loaded it up with all her stuff. That is the best thanks I could ever hope to get.

Cirque de Sewing

Don’t be fooled by this simple purse. There is far more to it than meets the eye.

This purse required feats of strength and agility heretofor unseen in my sewing studio, and thankfully not witnessed by anyone in my family because I’m certain they would never let me live it down.

Here’s the deal: My mother-in-law 1.0* asked me if I could make her a quilted purse for Christmas, but it needed to be able to stand up on its own because she puts it on the floor under her desk at work. No problem, I said.

I’ve been carrying my own Run Mama Run bag for the past six months and thought it would meet her requirements with a little modifying. The biggest modifications would be to attach fusibile fleece to the exterior fabric and quilt it, and attach Peltex to the lining so the bag would be nice and stiff.

Now, I’m pretty much a big avoider of Peltex (and its evil pal, Timtex) on a good day, so why on earth I would decide to work with it on a bag this style is completely beyond all comprehension. Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice and stiff and stands up like a soldier at attention (OK, maybe at parade rest — it’s not tht stiff). But that stiffness is what makes it such a challenge to work with. Pinning the layers together proved a bit painful. Plus, there’s not a lot of yield when you’re trying to twist and turn a Peltex-stiffened purse around the free arm of your sewing machine. The sheer inventiveness of my acrobatic sewing surprised me and sometimes was a little uncomfortable (I’m not as flexible as I used to be).

And then I had to slip the purse exterior through a four-inch gap in the lining, through which I then had to force a very unyielding Peltex purse form through so it would be right-side out. Methinks I did not plan this project as well as I’d hoped.

The final product is, in fact, a quilted purse that stands on its own. While my sweet MIL may not be able to appreciate the work that went into it, she’ll still be happy with the gift and the love that went into it. And I’m pretty sure the little bit of blood from stabbing myself while pinning the Peltex-lined pieces together doesn’t show.

*I have three. You know you’re jealous. 🙂

Holidays on ICE

If you are in the Atlanta area, you won’t want to miss the Indie Craft Experience Holiday Shopping Spectacular. It’s tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 15) from 11-6 at Ambient+ Photo Studio. There is a $5 admission but the money goes to Handmade Nation and Hagar House. Plus lots of great handmade goods to buy for all your gift-giving needs (because you know you have them!). The delightful Miss L and I plan to attend, so if you see us, be sure to say hi!

Thankful: 13. Candy Cane Oreos. Even the dog agrees. 14. Rain. Not fun for driving but we’ll take what we can get in this severe drought.