Tuesday, August 30, 2011


My eldest niece is ten, so when it came time for HER quilt, she got to pick her own fabric. She lives far away, so my SIL took her to the Quilter's Corner near her. There, she picked her feature fabric (center).

She did a great job getting something easy to work with: I'd never tried batiks, but her fabric had so many different colors, it was easy to match. The fabrics on the side are my picks, intended to play off the pinks, blues, oranges, greens and purples in her fabric.

I can't find the picture any more, but seeing a quilt kit at the Fat Quarter Shop made me want to try triangles, and blocks on point. I decided NOT to mess with my niece's lovely feature fabric, but to change the look on my complementary blocks. Here I am practicing on some old Ellie Fun Fabric with my mom:

and here are my blocks:

...along with the featured blocks...

My first attempt at Sashing fell... a little short of the mark. The fabric I'd picked was white with very faint green and pink tie-dye veins running through. Unfortunately, set next to the blocks, it looked very stark and... kind of clinical.

So, it was mom to the rescue.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gnoma Santa Mini Tree Skirt

My friend Mary LOVES A Christmas Story, the old classic about Ralphie and his dreams of a Beebee gun. So when she found this collectible village and more importantly this statue of Ralphie's nightmare, The only reasonable thing to do was 1) collect the set and 2) get a small pink christmas tree that matched the bunny suit. Some things just aren't optional.

Like making tree skirt worthy of so amazing and unique a tree. Traditional christmas colors were out of the question, and shocking pink Christmas fabric is, in fact, a little hard to find. It took some looking. But my friend herself came to my rescue when she found this at the Fat Quarter Shop:

This is Holiday Happy by Lecien, with little Gnoma Clauses. With a 3' tree, half a yard of fabric was more than sufficient to make a reversible tree skirt. The skirt was just two 18" circles plus batting & binding.

I even quilted it myself, drawing on the experience of a recent free-motion quilting class, an air-erase marker, and a "cheat" using the snowflake on the reverse to alternate Santa, snowflake, Santa snowflake for my first original free-motion quilting design. Here it is from the top:

 And from the bottom:

and here the tree skirt is in action, courtesy of my friend. It was gifted in late November, 2010:

Santa's Workshop Tree Skirt

In which I learn the importance of double, and indeed, triple-checking one's math. The fabric is Jim Shore's Santa's workshop, and the goal was to make a hexagonal tree skirt. I started with what I THOUGHT were six equilateral triangles, but when I laid them all out, this is what I got:

Notice how something doesn't quite close in the back? Yeah. No amount of cute kitty distraction could change the basic fact that as constructed, my tree skirt was not going to go around a tree.  Not all the way, anyways.

I was afraid to change the angles on the triangles and come up with ANOTHER unforeseen mistake of geometry (or a much smaller tree skirt), so instead I elected to just close the opening with like fabric. This also proved a challenge because I had based my dimensions on maximum usage of fabric and the trees were directional, so in order to close the space, I had to take sections from three "upside down" triangle cutouts to make two small triangles that each halved the gap. It was not my most efficient moment ever.

So mom did make my day when she said "why don't you just make it a circle and sew it, then turn it?" MUCH less hassle than binding the whole thing.

I did that, and then I blanket stitched Santa Scenes from the collection onto each section of the tree skirt instead of quilting. It was my first experience with Applique.

I completed this in November 2010, and it went under our Christmas tree that year.


After the Scotty dog met with so much success, I couldn't resist trying the cat. This, sadly is where my stash reduction failed, because I had to acquire MORE care-bear fabric to do the the cat, and then once I saw the Strawberry shortcake fabric, I was a goner. At least the faces were from stash?

The Care Bear kitty went to my sister in law, who is a cat person, and Strawberry Shortcake Cat went to live with an old HS friend.  I bought my first safety eyes from Etsy for them, and despite the increase in complexity, I think they turned out all right.

Shhh... It's a secret.

This WIP hasn't been gifted yet, and won't be for a while... but here's a preview of the initial layout.

Project was started Jan 2011.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I am an efficient person by nature, and I hate waste. especially waste of really cute fabric. So when I sent a picture of my Care-Bear quilt to my soon-to-be sister-in-law, and she commented that "Care Bear" had been her nickname growing up,  I knew what I had to do. I waited until 99 cent pattern day at the local Hancock's and then picked up this McCall's 4893 pattern:

I decided the Scotty Dog was more my speed (2 parts as opposed to oh, 13?) so I went for it. This resulted in a number of "mom, what's slipstiching?" and "mom, what's basting?" calls and google searches, but here's the dog in progress:

And here he is finished! I'd never actually followed a pattern before, but I think I pretty much finished him in an evening. Here he is! An efficient use of scraps, and a good gift.

He still lives with me for reasons to be detailed in a later post, and I keep thinking one day I am going to give him safety eyes so he can be a gift to a little kid. And I will definitely make another some day, it wasn't a lot of effort and he turned out nice.

Binding Ellie Fun 2

I bind at a glacial pace. Glacial. It doesn't help that after years of sewing dance clothing, I want my stitches industrial strength, made with 2-ply thread, and at JUST the right diagonal for maximum support and durability. So one day I complained to my mom, who gave me the best book ever:

Ignore the 80s-tacular cover, this book is great. It's got a bunch of cute ideas for finishing a quilt, and it talks about technique and practical concerns, both of which are areas in which I lack experience.

Anyways, I decided that what looked really cute on baby quilts was piping. That little adorable finished edge sticking out, adding dimensions and contrast, etc. etc etc. Plus, I reasoned, it would be EASY to do piping with the machine - I could just make it, and then carefully fold the edges under and using a zipper/piping foot, sew both sides to the piping at once. Plus I could have an rounded corner on the quilt, which is definitely a look I like.

This seemed very reasonable in principal, and in practice finding the right filler was hard but putting the piping together went quickly. However, when it came time to machine-sew the whole thing together... EPIC FAIL! Trying to get that much fabric to all cooperate at once is slightly like trying to get not one, but six housecats to come when called. In order of name-calling, and with no food involved. For a novice, It did not go well. Even with pinning. So, I ended up sewing the front on by machine, and then binding the back by hand, again.

However, the piping did turn out *super* cute.

This quilt was presented Christmas 2010 to my 2-year old niece in Texas.

Ellie Fun

Working on the Wizard of Oz pillows (and waiting not-so-patiently for the final panel) made me interested in the Quilting Treasures website, where I fell in love with an adorable, adorable elephant pattern by Karen Neuburger. It was impossible to find in local stores, but fortunately the internet came to my rescue! I bought the first four fabrics from Bay Window Quilt Shop online, and it's still one of my go-to online shops. At the time I had still never actually pieced a quilt, and so I had no idea how much fabric I would need. I bought a full yard of each of the bright squares you see.

I had been planning on just taking the four of them and alternating for a simple four-patch quilt but when I got them all together, I learned my first important lesson about shopping for fabric online. While on my monitor they had looked PERFECT together, in person they looked, well, kind of bright. Like, kind of punch-you-in-the-face-bright. The photo looks toned DOWN actually. And the pink elephants weren't *quite* the same saturation as the purple elephants and flower fabrics. Ooops.

Fortunately my mom was out, and she and I dragged those for fabrics to the Savage Quilter in OKC (my absolute favorite shop of all times) and picked out some much-less-intense-looking greens and pinks to sort of mellow it out.

Also we bought the striped pink fabric for binding, because it was just plain too adorable to leave there.

I made the quilt using the "tube" method, with what turned out to be 8" squares. I found a great white w/ pink polka dots print for the inner sashing, and the slightly-too muted to be an inner-square pink elephants made a great outer border around the quilt.

Here is the final product:

And, the adorable elephant border! I'll admit, I sang "Pink Elephants" from the Dumbo movie the entire time I was sewing it on. :-)

Plus the pink striped binding...
And the backing, pieced with more Savage quilter fabric and the scraps from Ellie Fun.

This Quilt was also professionally Quilted by Another Mary Ann. She Did adorable elephants in the lighter fabrics, and flowers in the Elephants, and it turned out really nice.

This quilt was supposed to be a gift but... it turned out that with all the fabric I'd bought, I had enough to make 2! One went to my little niece in Texas, and the other lives at our house.