Sunday, October 12, 2014

Christmas Tree Lane Quilt

I'm so happy to report that my Christmas Tree Lane quilt and table runner are almost complete!  In my previous posting, I had just finished the piecing while dealing with our upcoming move back to Texas.  The movers come this week and I'm just about to lose my sewing machine and fabric for the next few months :(

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I've finished the quilting on both the quilt and the table runner despite not being able to find my supreme slider for some weird reason and running out of the variegated green thread that I was using to quilt the trees and borders.

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I love the swirl quilting on these pieces and even tried my hand at incorporating a few pebbles into the swirls for the table runner.  I really think that my free motion quilting has improved over this last year and I was excited to do some feathers on my quilt border (although, I choose to do line quilting for the table runner border).

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A few of my feathers went a bit wonky, but overall I'm pretty happy with their size and shape.  Now, it's onto the binding.  I'm torn between a fun holiday stripe and a great red plaid.  Decisions, decisions :) 


Monday, October 6, 2014

1248 Triangles

Once upon a time, I saw a one block wonder (or stack-and-whack, if you prefer) quilt at a show, and ever since then I've really wanted to make one.  Call me crazy, but with all the other things going on in my life right now (school, moving to a new home in three weeks, Halloween, and the family) I decided to try to whip out one of these quilts before we leave Germany so that it will be done in time for Christmas as a gift for my sister and her husband.

Yep, I'm nuts.  There are 1248 triangles in this pile.  These stacks of hexagons represents 8 yards of fabric!

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Thankfully the whacking only took one night.  If you've ever read about these quilts, lining up the fabric is really the hardest part.  It took me forever to get my layers all perfectly straight, but it makes a huge difference in how the blocks look when they are put together. 

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I'm now at the fun part.  I get to arrange all my hexagons together in order to create the design.  The books say to put it up on a wall and tweak it over the course of a few days, but I don't have that kind of time.  I'm going to be arranging these on the floor tonight while the kids are asleep and whatever design is formed is how it's going to get sewn together.  That's just how we busy moms have to roll sometimes :)

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I'll keep you updated on how this project is coming together.  I'm thinking about just sending it to a longarmer for finishing because I don't really think I'm going to be able to do it myself in time.  Quilting a queen with a domestic sewing machine is tricky under the best of circumstances, but it might be a mistake to take it on when the movers are coming for my machine on the 16th, and I might not see it again until December.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Working towards Christmas

I don't know about everyone else out there, but September is when I start to feel the Christmas crunch.  This year, I planned a bit better and have a lot done, but I still have several gifts "in-the-works", and since we are moving at the end of October, and we don't know when our stuff will arrive at the new house (likely after Christmas), I'm trying to get several projects finished up and shipped out early.

This week, I'm focusing on a project that I've been designing for a long time.  I drew-up this Christmas tree quilt several months ago, and now I'm finally at the putting together stage!  This weekend, I added the borders to my modern style Christmas quilt.  Many of the modern quilts that I've seen lately don't have borders, but I really liked the idea of framing my Christmas trees with a simple and clean border design.

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I'm really loving how it's turning out.  The blocks are foundation pieced from a simple tree block that I designed and arranged in a vertical, off-set pattern.  I went the foundation route because I wanted to use all of the Christmas fabric scraps that I had laying around, and foundation piecing is great for scraps :)

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This week, I'm going to hopefully finish the quilting on my domestic and work on finishing-up the pattern instructions.

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I've written patterns and tutorials before, but this will be the first one that I'm going to offer for sale.  I'm not sure when I'll have the pattern ready for sale because I want to see if I can get a few people to read it and maybe test it first.  

I'd love to hear from anyone else who creates patterns for sale and wants to share some wisdom about their experiences :)  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Playing with clay

In this post, I'm linking up with both Celtic Thistle Stitches and Missy Mac Creations for the HO HO HO and on we sew linky party and the new to me in August linky party because this month's Christmas gifts were done in a medium that I really don't have that much experience in; clay.

After I bought a ginormous block of white clay (apparently they don't just sell little blocks), I had more than enough for everyone to make something.  I couldn't let the kids have all the fun alone so I went ahead and made a little bird bath ring holder with some left-over clay for above my kitchen sink.  Right now, it's holding some buttercups that my son picked for me, but I just want to share the results of my dabbling with ceramics with everyone here. 

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Nope, clay is not something that I work in a lot.  Turns out that the whole process is a lot more involved than I originally intended since I had to drive over an hour away to drop off and pick up the masterpieces for two different firings, but I had a few projects in mind that I really wanted to do with kiln fired clay (not oven baked) and so we bit the bullet and focused on two main projects.

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The first project was making a hand impressions for each of my children.  My mother has ones that we did as kids, and I wanted to do some too while the kids are still little.  I tried to do this a while back but someone else's project exploded in the kiln and ruined my stuff :(

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Hence, this time I rented out the whole kiln for just my stuff so that all these Christmas gifts that the kids made didn't get ruined again (plus, we made a lot of items since I had to use up a 25lb brick of clay).  I love all their little creations, and they are all excited about giving something hand-made to the grandparents.

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The main Christmas project that I got done were these fingerprint Christmas tree ornaments that my oldest helped me to paint and glaze before firing.  There's an ornament for each grandchild and one with where my husband and I made a heart shape with our thumb prints.

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I love sweet sentimental gifts like this and I think that the grandparents are really going to enjoy them.  I'm glad that we took the time to do these with kiln fired clay because the quality is just great, but it is a much more involved process than doing this same thing with oven baked clay.  I don't know if I'll be doing this again anytime soon, but we all enjoyed trying something new, and I think that everyone's gifts turned out great.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2 twisted wine cork wreaths

While I was in California last year visiting with my family, I got the chance to make my parents a really BIG wine cork wreath to hang over their living room fire place.  The space demanded a big wreath, so I made one using a pool noodle and larger child sized hula hoop as the wreath form.  I wanted a lot of movement in this wreath so instead of just stacking the corks symmetrically around the form, I twisted them around it.  I'm revisiting this project now because I just finished making a smaller version for my apartment door.  I love how both wreaths turned out and I have a few little tips to share with everyone that I learned along the way.

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Tip 1: Burlap

As you can see, I covered the form with wide burlap ribbon so that the corks would have something to grip onto when I hot glued them down.  The burlap is also the perfect color base for the wreath so your gaps don't show the pool noodle color (no one wants blue pool noodle poking out form under their cork).

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Tip 2: Sort your corks

The part that I found the most fun was choosing the individual corks to go on the wreath.  There are so many really cool ones out there to choose from; plus, I put a few special ones on the wreath too.  

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But, before you start gluing, sort out the small, long, and special corks.  As I put the corks around the wreath, I found that sometimes I needed a smaller or bigger one to make my row fit right.  I even had to cut a few corks down a bit to finish my row, but I always hid those ones at the back.

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Tip 3: Placement

I did a lot of looking around the internet at different cork wreaths before I designed this one and I didn't see any that twisted the corks around like I did here, maybe it's because getting the placement right is hard.  If you're using a pool noodle like I did then I found that 6 corks per row was just perfect.  Once you get your first few rows in place it's important to make sure that you re-adjust  your corks as you go so the angle stays the same all the way around.  Because corks are not all uniform in size, it's easy to loose the angle.

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Tip 5:  Add a hanger before you glue the last few rows.

It took exactly 365 corks to cover this wreath, two bags of full sized glue sticks (not minis), and three days that involved wine and margaritas.  I blame the spot that got a bit wobbly on the margaritas :)  Just a note. This wreath turns out pretty heavy so make sure to use a sturdy length of wire to make a hanger before you add the last few rows of cork.  There is no good way to wrap a wire around the corks after you finish.


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Tip 6: Support the weight at the top and bottom

Even though I loved this wreath plain, I wanted to add a few wine country touches with grapes, leaves, and even a humming bird.  I love the little hummer because my parents always have a zillion hanging around their feeders.  When we hung this wreath, we used a 25lb picture frame hanger at the top, but also supported the weight of the wreath with a nail at the bottom to keep the wreath from sagging.  The bottom just sits on a large nail secured into the stud.  

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Tip 7: Choose a very even form

When I made the smaller version of this wreath for my front door, I only supported it from the top, but I used a lot of the same construction tips from the big wreath.  I only wish that I hadn't used a straw form because it is not uniform enough all the way around to keep the corks from getting off track.  I should have made another pool noodle form or bough a foam form so that I didn't have to deal with the the wobbles in the straw.

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I love how the door version turned out too, and I'm happy to have a nice wreath to celebrate the end of summer for my door.  I hope that my tips can help you make your own wreath to decorate your home.

How everyone else is celebrating the last part of summer?  Any special trips, activities, or projects planned?  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August Illustration

So, just doing a quick share today.  It's been a few months since I posted a monthly illustration, and this month's was inspired by our upcoming move back to the USA.  Yep, it's official.  We'll be moving back to Texas (where it all began for my family)  in November.  I'm going to miss Germany, but I'm also ready to be with our family back home.

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We just told our families today and everyone is excited.  My brother-in-law is especially happy that everyone now knows because he's been keeping the secret for the last week while I finished the moving announcement.  I think it was totally worth the wait so we could share the news in a cute way, and my husband understands my particular brand of crazy enough to go along with me.  He's a good guy :)

I really, really can't believe that it's already August!  Summer has just flown by, and I can honestly say that this is one of the best summers that I've had in a really long time even with all the rain we've had over the last month.

We went to the Alps for vacation and hiked all over for a week. I could absolutely see myself living there it was just so beautiful.

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We also visited a few museums in Innsbruck, Germany and they had the most beautiful antique spinning wheels on display.

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It's amazing the level of detail in so many antique pieces which is missing from today's utility items and tools.


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Okay, I think that I've tortured you enough with my holiday photos, but really look how much work went into carving this spinning wheel!  :)

What were you all doing this summer.  Projects? Trips?  I'd love to hear about all your adventures. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

There are Superheros Amongst Us

Because I have been super busy with school this summer (it's my Senior Year of College), my kids are doing a lot of solo play.  It's great to see them all at an age where they can just have fun together without Mommy having to come in and direct things all the time.  Lately, they've been really into playing super hero games with each other, but the blanket capes were constantly needing to be tied and retied.  This was making my little super heroes a tad cranky, and Mommy said "no" when they asked me to pin the blankets around their little necks (I suspected that that might end badly).  So, we dug through my stash and made a trip to the fabric store in order to find the perfect super hero cape fabrics!

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Each cape and mask is double sided with an appliqued initial on one side.  I used a modified version of Sherri's cape tutorial, from her thread riding hood blog, for the capes.  I modified the shape and length a bit according to my kids' sizes and I added some light weight stabilizer around the collars to make them a bit more stable.

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I used some satin fabric from my stash for my daughter's pink puppy cape and adding the stabilizer really made a big difference in how it was laying.  It's going to be a while before I'm convinced to use any kind of silky fabric again, that stuff is slippery!

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For the masks, I used Dabbles and Babble's superhero mask templates.  By adding a seam allowance I made them double sided by flipping them inside out.  I also used a bit of stabilizer between the layers to help the mask keep it's shape and I really suggest that you don't cut out the eyes until after you satin stitch around the eye holes.

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This was a great little summer project and my kids insist on wearing their capes everywhere.  I think that I'm going to have to make a few for the nieces and nephews for Christmas too.
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