Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quilting with Darla's Designs

This is my latest quilt. I used fabrics designed by my sister, Darla. The colors are a red-orange, lime green (chartreuse), black, white, and a touch of yellow. To me, the fabric brought thoughts of Mexican pottery, so I went with a festive theme with lots of border design. I appliqued the corner decorations. It is about 60" square - big enough to throw over the end of a bed, the back of a couch, or a sleeping husband or child. Who could be bored under a quilt like this? It might even be fun as a large wall hanging. Darla has about 70 designs now on Spoonflower. Here are the fabrics for Where the Green Fern Grows.

I'm thinking of naming it "Fiesta Ferns".
AND, she has finally made her first quilt! She used one of her Christmas panels and free motion quilted it.


You can read about her experience here! Her young grandchildren are all claiming this as theirs! They were astounded seeing the entire process of making a quilt from designing the fabric on paper, working with it on the computer, ordering it, receiving it in the mail, and then making a quilt out of it. It was a magical experience for them! Only time will tell what kind of impact that has had on them. 

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Small Fabric Covered Sketchbook, Tutorial

This little sketch book is easily made and can be put in a bag to carry around. I made some for my grandkids since I will be enjoying them for the next couple of weeks. Although I thought that maybe a good way to encourage them to draw daily would be to decorate a page for each date*, you could sketch out quilt designs, use it as an address book, journal in it, .....whatever you want! *If you make a calendar from it, it will stand on its own when opened up like an easel. You can save it for years since the day of the week is not written on it! (I would love for my grandkids to decorate a calendar for me this way. What a great gift!)
These little sketchbooks are easy to carry, small (pages made with 4" x 6" blank index cards). You can make it as simple or fancy as you choose. You can choose to add a pen/pencil holder and ribbon ties. (You could even choose to add a pocket on the front to hold a box of crayons, but I haven't given instructions for that here.You would need to measure your crayon box and allow for that.)

1. You need a pack of blank index cards (4" x 6") and two corrugated cardboard pieces cut 6 1/2" x 5". You will also need batting scraps, fabric, binder rings (1 3/4"), hole punch, and although it can be optional, it helps to have metal eyelets and an eyelet punch.

2. Cover the cardboard with batting (using a glue stick) and punch holes at the top. (Be sure your holes match up on both pieces.) Punch holes in the index cards to match up with the holes in the cover.
3. Cut two strips of fabric each 5 3/4" x 13 3/4". (You will be sewing 1/4" seams, but the cardboard takes up some space.) To add a pen or pencil holder, see step 12. This should be done at this point. To add a ribbon tie at the bottom to tie the sketchbook closed, see stop 13. Both of these additions are very easy to do.
4. Fold each fabric piece in half as shown. You are going to sew up each side (leave the end open) like a pillowcase. Turn right sides out.
5. Slip each piece over the cardboard cover. If your fabric has a directionality to it, pay attention to where the holes are. They should end up at the top. If the batting gets bent down at the corners, slip a ruler or closed scissors point in the smooth it down.

6. Fold the raw edges under and slip stitch closed on each cover. Yes, you're basically slipcovering the cardboard!

7. With the sharp point of a pair of scissors, punch through the holes. Don't make the hole as large as the "hole punched" hole.

8. With an eyelet punch, put an eyelet over each hole. (If you do not have an eyelet punch, you can hand embroider a buttonhole here. You could also do this by machine earlier, but you will need to measure carefully to find the placement for them.) You might also  make a little felt "flower" or circle and punch a hole in the center. Then glue it over the hole.
9. Line up the holes in the index cards with the holes in the cover and insert the binder rings. This is the most simple version and you can stop here if you wish. BUT, it is pretty simple to add a little handle:
10. Cut a rectangle of fabric about 2 1/2" x 10". Using a glue stick, fold down three sides of the rectangle 1/4". Cut a double thickness of batting about 3/4" x 8".


11. Fold the raw edge in over the batting, then fold the opposite side over and bring to the edge. Topstitch down both sides and across the ends to hold it all together. Put an eyelet in each end. Simply slip each eyelet into the binding ring to form a handle. 
(I also tried a purchased handle, and although it worked just fine, the handle I had was too big to look right. If you could find a smaller handle, you might want to try this.)

12. To add a pen or pencil holder, simply cut a rectangle about 4" x 2 1/2". Fold the ends in 1/4" and sew down. Fold in half (right sides out) and sew across the top.
 Place the tube at the bottom right of the rectangle. You want to to end up inside the cover at the bottom on the back. The pages should fall just above the pencil holder. Keep in mind that you will be sewing a 1/4" seam at the end and the bottom of the rectangle.Turn the top seam under to the back and sew across the top to attach it to the rectangle.

13. To add ribbon ties at the bottom, place a 12" length of ribbon at the center inside each folded rectangle. Sew the ribbon ends in the seam when you sew across the bottom of the folded rectangle.( Be sure you don't sew the opposite end of the ribbon into the other seam!) When you turn it right sides out, there should be a ribbon at the bottom of each piece. If you decide to do this AFTER sewing your cover, you can always just sew it on by hand at the seam.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Honey of a Preemie Quilt Tutorial

I enjoy making charity quilts when I can. Especially close to my heart are those tiny preemies. My grandson was born 3 months prematurely, and an experience like that certainly changes your perspective. Those parents are frightened, the mother is often not in good health, and those tiny little ones have left the comfort of the womb to a cruel world. (You would never know today, almost 5 years later, that my grandson had such a shaky start!) 
This little quilt could be made large enough to serve as a crib quilt by enlarging the sizes given here, or by adding more to the borders.
 The bee in the center block of this little "preemie" quilt has been pieced, not appliqued. It is based on the simple "Bow Tie" block except for the little wings and embroidered antennae.although I added two borders and a little embroidery so that I could use this as a donated quilt for the Preemie ward, it could be used as a block in a larger quilt or as a decoration on a bag. 
You will need: 3 squares each 1 1/2", bee body fabric
                         2 squares each 1 1/2", background fabric
                         2 squares each 3", background fabric
                                     2 rectangles each 3" x 8 1/2", background
                         scrap of white - enough to double and cut wings from, I used two 3" squares
                   Sew two sets, each with a 1 1/2" bee body and a 1 1/2" background. Press the seams open.      
Sew the two sets together, making sure the fabrics are opposite one another. Press.
Sew the 3" squares on each side of the bee block. Press, then sew the rectangles to the top and bottom. Press.
You now have a bow tie block surrounded by your background fabric. To make it look like a bee, you need a middle body and wings.
Turn the edges under about 1/4" on the remaining 1 1/2" square of bee body fabric. I use a glue stick to make them stay down.This will be appliqued or machine sewn over the ends of the wings.
Draw a petal shape about 2" long by 1 1/2" wide. Cut out on the line. Stack your two pieces of white fabric right sides together, and trace around the wing. You will need two of these. Leave enough room between the two wings to have a seam allowance on each. Sew around the outside of the wing, but leave the bottom open for turning. Cut out AFTER sewing. (It is much easier this way!) Turn each right side out. Press.
Make a pleat at the bottom of each wing and machine sew the ends in place at the center of the bee body. Test placement by placing the prepared square over it.

Applique or machine sew the square over the ends of the wings and lining it up with the center of the bee body. Embroider eyes and antennae.
 I happened to have some yellow 3" wide strips and some blue 5" wide strips left over from a different project, so I used these as borders. You can change the size of the borders if you choose. You could also add another pieced border around this. As it is, it comes out 22" square, a perfect size for a preemie incubator cover. I chose to write "My little honey is as sweet as can be!" around the yellow border. You might come up with something cuter than that or choose to not add wording at all. 
 I used the blue floral background fabric as a backing and used a piece of bamboo batting (because of its silky feel and other properties). I bound it with the yellow. 
I think this little bee could be useful for other purposes besides  a crib quilt. How about using it in a bag, as a journal cover, on a pocket or apron, or as a block in a larger quilt? 
Have fun and keep on buzzing!
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Something's Fishy Around Here!

 Our temperatures here in south Texas have hovered around three digits for the last week or so. In other words, it's HOT! Although I have a sprinkler system, I like to go out in the evening and give my plants another little drink just to keep them going. I noticed that my sago palms were starting to look a little yellowish, so I decided to give them a dose of fish emulsion, which I swear by! It stinks horribly, even though they claim it is deodorized, but I use it anyway and my plants love it.
Well, I went out and measured out the right amount in a bucket and pulled the hose over to add the right amount of water. Unfortunately, I had a sprayer on the end of the hose that caused the blast of water to bounce all that nasty fish emulsion up into my face and hair (which I had just washed and dried, something I really hate doing!). I sit, freshly showered, scrubbed, shampooed, and still smelling faintly of rotten fish. Not pleasant. 
I think I may just have a good excuse to stay in and sew! I don't think anyone will want me around anyway!
Stay cool wherever you are (or if it's cold where you are, stay warm!) and....

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Gift or Storage Basket Tutorial

 Here's an easy little storage container you can make to serve as storage or as a pretty little gift basket. It is just the right size for fat quarters, a pattern, and a few spools of thread. It would make a nice gift for a friend who is learning to quilt or as a nice prize for a quilt guild. Several of these full of fat quarters would look neat and nice on your shelves. At the end of this post, I've listed some other ways you could use this basket.

 This is how I made the basket at the top of the page:
Cut your outer fabric, your lining, and your interfacing (mine is felt, but fleece or even stiff interfacing will work fine) into rectangles  26 1/2" x 24".

 Layer the lining and the interfacing and fold in half lengthwise. Sew the two short ends together.
Also fold the outer fabric and sew in the same way.

Cut a template that is 3 1/8" square. With the fold at the bottom, set the template in each corner (do not include the seam in the measurement!) and cut out. Do this on both pieces. 
 Now here's the best trick of all! I learned it from Ooh! Pretty Colors several years ago and made a TON (about 50) of "Busy Bags" for the little children at church using this method!  (Thanks, Diane!) Simply open up the corner and bring the middle of the bottom up to meet the side seam (as in the photo above). Pin in place.
 Pin this opening together in both pieces. You will end up with something similar to the picture above.
 Place the bottoms together and re-pin so that the outer fabric, the interfacing, and the lining will be sewn together. Sew across each opening. This will assure your lining and your outer piece will always stay in place! (The "points" in the photo are just the sides of the basket flattened out.)
 Here you see the seams sewn. The outer body fabric is on the underneath, not shown well in this photo. At this point, insert a piece of lightweight cardboard in the bottom, between the outer body fabric and the interfacing. It will be ABOUT 6 1/4" x 8 1/4", but the width of your fabrics can make a difference in this. Measure the bottom to see what yours will be.
Turn inside out so that the outer body is now on the outside.
For handles, cut two strips each 13" x 3". On each, turn under one edge about 1/4". Fold the opposite edge over about 1", then bring the folded edge over this to the side, as shown. I used a glue stick to hold down the folded edges. Now topstitch down each side.
Pin in place on each side of the box, where you want it.
Cut a strip for a binding that is 2 1/2" x about 36". Be sure it is long enough to go all the way around the top of your box. Fold it in half lengthwise, press, and place the raw edges along the top of your outer body (do NOT sew through the lining unless you have used a very stiff interfacing or do not want to add cardboard in the  sides.) Do sew the ends of the handles in place as you sew the binding on. The should be under the binding.
Cut two pieces of cardboard for the ends and two for the sides. Mine were 6 1/2" x 3 1/4" for the ends, and 8 1/2" x 3 1/4" for the sides. (Check yours before cutting. You can always start bigger and trim if needed.)

Insert the cardboard into the sides and the ends between the body and the interfacing. (Although in the photo I do not have the binding sewn on, I ended up having to remove the cardboard after the photo to sew the binding on! Some things you just learn by experience.)
Turn the binding over the top and pin or clip in place. Sew it to the lining, or by sewing through the cardboard back and forth from inside to outside. If you make your cardboard enough shorter than the sides, you may be able to sew by machine by sewing the binding ABOVE the cardboard.
Now fill it with goodies and give it as a gift to yourself or someone else! Here are some other gift ideas using this little basket. Use a fabric that will compliment what you put inside if you want!

1.  candy, bubble solution and wand, small toys, etc. for a child in the hospital. (Check on what is actually allowed for that child first.)
2.  produce from your garden to give to an elderly neighbor. Include some home canned goodies if you have them!
3.  homemade bread for a friend.
4.  apple, pencils, hand lotion, gift card, etc. for a teacher
5. homemade cookies
6.small houseplant, hand lotion, candies for a nursing home resident
7. crayons (the BIG box with LOTS of hues), sketch book, and colored pencils for a child
8. soft, fluffy socks in all colors for an elderly or sick friend
9. tools for a specific need - baby items, kitchen items, toiletries, gardening tools and seeds, off to college, etc.
10. seven little boxes or bags with little treats inside along with scriptures or encouraging notes - one for a depressed or discouraged friend to open each day for a week.

I'm sure I'll think of more things that I will wish I had listed, but you probably have some great ideas of your own. I love the idea of using this to brighten someone's day, but it might be that you need your OWN day brightened.
Until next time.....

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