Monday, April 30, 2012

Little Crocheted Bags and Free Motion Quilting

After spending the morning troubleshooting my uncooperative sewing machine, I was so happy when the baby took a late afternoon nap while the girls were at a friend's house thinking I'd be able to get some sewing in today.  All was looking good until I noticed my iron was not warming up - sadly, I don't think I can fix it so my sewing will have to take a break for a few days.  What to do???  Crochet, maybe?!?

Actually, I made this little bag with the purple flower over the weekend (and the pink one years ago) - if I'd only known, I would have waited.

These bags are a relatively simple and quick project.  I've been giving these out for birthday presents for a few years and from the feedback I've received, I can say - little girls LOVE them!

To make the bags, you just need to make two Granny Squares of your choice and a big flower.  For the grannies, I recommend making two identical ones - you can vary the yarn color for the middle but I think it looks nicer at the end if your outermost row is the same for both.

Put the two squares right side together (if you have a right side) and starting in the middle of one of the sides, use single crochet to stitch around the rest of that side and the next two sides.  Then make a chain of your preferred length (mine was about 100 stitches) and stitch down the rest of the side you started with.  You can really attach them anyway you want but using this method gives the bags a nice boxy look.  Flip the bag around so the right sides are showing and attach your flower (or flowers.)

You can leave the bag like this or you can add a lining.  To make the lining, you need to first measure your granny square to figure out what size you need.  Your fabric should be about 1/2 to 1 inch wider than your square and double the length plus about 1 inch.  For example, if my square was 5x5, I would cut out two pieces of fabric measuring 6 x 11 inches.  Remember when choosing fabric, that the exterior will show a bit though the crochet - you might want it to stand out or you might prefer for it to blend in - I usually hold it up behind the square when deciding which fabric to use.

Put your two pieces of fabric right sides together and sew around all four sides leaving a gap on one of the sides for turning.

Turn it so right sides are facing out and topstitch around the rectangle enclosing the open gap while doing so.  Take the rectangle and fold it in half so that the short sides touch and sew down the two sides forming a little bag.  The seams will be showing but the raw edges will be enclosed because of the first step.  (You could also sew the fabric bag with no seams by sewing the exterior into a little bag and the interior into a little bag, putting one inside the other (right sides facing) and sewing around the top leaving a gap for turning.)

Then just put the fabric bag inside the crochet bag and hand stitch using your preferred method for invisible stitches around the top to attach.  Make sure to put your needle through just the interior side of the crochet stitches so that the thread doesn't show on the outside.  

I also made some of these little bags last night using some granny squares that I had made awhile back (I think I was originally going to make a blanket.)  

But back to quilting:

I've been building up to free motion quilting - using it in smaller projects and trying sketch stitching but I finally quilted a whole quilt (well, it was doll/baby size) using a meandering stitch.  I love the scrunchy look the quilts get when made this way.  

I used my go-to wonky log cabin for the blocks and appliqued the hearts using a zigzag stitch.

And here is the back:

I definitely want to make more quilts using FMQ.  My WIP this week is a little houses quilt that I started before my iron broke and I guess I'll take this opportunity to organize my stash and go blog hopping!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Little Scraps Bag and A Precious Quilt

I've decided that little tote bags are one of my favorite handmade gifts for kids - they are relatively easy to whip up and the kids can actually use them.  I also like making them because I can experiment with different patterns and techniques without having to commit to making a whole quilt.

And that is my middle daughter's foot in the photo staking claim to this bag!

I put this together by taking the linen-y fabric and a piece of batting and, using a strip of masking tape as a guide, stitched a grid.  I then cut out little rectangles of fabrics to fit in each box and used my free motion foot to applique the shapes to the background.  (Is it still called applique if I use the free motion foot to outline the scraps???)

I used home decor weight fabric for the back and straps and then lined it with regular quilting cotton.

I also got started on my first QAL.

When I read about the My Precious Quilt -A-Long on Kelbysews, I knew I had to join since I've had a yard of Momo Wonderland in my stash pretty much since I started sewing that I've been saving for some reason even I don't know (Kelly even mentions Wonderland as an example - guess I'm not alone!)

As I'm completely hooked on HSTs, I decided to try another HST quilt.  I added in many of my other favorite fabrics and this is what I came up with.  I only used a small bit of the Wonderland maybe I'll make a trio of small quilts with it?!?

There is also some Mendocino in this quilt.  The Mendocino is another one of those fabrics I bought when I first started sewing.  It was on clearance and I only bought one yard!!!  Well, and one yard of the orange.  I think it was less than $5 - oh, well.  Live and learn.  I definitely didn't realize what a find it was.   My daughter loved the fabric and at her request, I immediately used it to make a skirt for her - um, the first skirt I ever made so it wasn't even a good skirt - just great fabric.  Well, the skirt is a bit too short now so I reclaimed the fabric and upcycled it to use in this and a future project.

To make this quilt, I first cut up a bunch of squares and randomly put together fabrics to make a pile of HSTs.

  I put those to the side and cut out strips from the same fabrics.  I pieced the strips together.

And then cut it into strips.

 I then took the strips and the HSTs and arranged and rearranged until I liked the pattern.

Then I added in the white fabric as sashing to piece it all together.  It was kind of like figuring out a puzzle.

I wanted to try something new with the quilting so I did diagonal lines of varying widths along the whole quilt, horizontal lines about 1/2 inch apart along the bottom third of the quilt and vertical lines about 1/2 inch apart along one of the sides.

Oh, and I used some Jennifer Paganelli Pinwheel stripe fabric for the backing.  

And here is the very beginnings of my next small quilt using my "precious" fabric:

Linking up to 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Log Cabin Baby Quilt

Yesterday was a very exciting day for me.  I was flipping through the blogs in my reader and came upon the listing of the Top 10 link ups in the Festival of Half Square Triangles at Canoe Ridge Creations.  I scrolled through, admiring the quilts, and then, BAM - there was my quilt.  Wow - I couldn't (and can't) believe it.  There were so many amazing entries into the festival - I am so flattered to be chosen.  The choice has now been turned over to the viewer's and voting is open until tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 25th at midnight CST.)

I was in such a happy place because of my HST quilt news that I couldn't wait to get started on my next project but as I've been mentioning, my fabric stash is running very low.  So, while I was waiting for my new fabrics to arrive, I decided to fix the binding on this Log Cabin quilt.  This was one of the first patchwork quilts I made after discovering my love of quilting.  I made it last summer while very pregnant and had my two older kids nearby taking turns picking out the fabrics.  This quilt definitely has its, um, imperfections - puckering and uneven squares for example - but most of its, um, imperfections, don't bother me at all.  However, the binding was really awful.  I think this was only the second quilt that I actually put a binding on - and I machine-stitched the binding which didn't work out very well.  (It was after this quilt that I started hand-stitching my bindings until I decided to try machine-stitching again a few months ago.)  Anyway, here is a small photo of the binding:

Redoing the binding has been on my to-do list for awhile and I'm so glad I finally did it.  What a huge difference it makes!

I machine stitched the binding again but I think my technique has come a long way over the last eight months (not perfect but much improved.)

And another pic:

I started this binding as soon as the baby started her nap this morning.  While I was stitching, I was trying to remember what I did during nap times when my older two were babies - I didn't do anything crafty back then - no sewing, no crochet, no embroidery - seriously, what I do with that time?  Okay, back to the present - one more photo:

Happily, my new fabric order arrived.  Yea!

So I started sewing my quilt for the My Precious QAL at Kelbysews.

Can you guess what my precious fabric is?

It is the Momo Wonderland and the Mendocino.  I also used the few precious scraps I had left of Nicey Jane and various other fabric scraps I love.  I only had a 1/2 yard (or even less) of the Mendocino but I had a full yard of the Wonderland so I'll be doing another project or two with that as well.

Oh, and I'll leave you with this:

This is the old binding I cut off the quilt and some scraps that are even too tiny for me to use.  I collect these in a basket for my daughters who put them to use in their craft projects.  They use the scraps in a variety of ways including as stuffing since they always seem to be making pillows and mattresses for their dolls.

I have a few other projects in this works this week including this one that I posted a peek of over the weekend.  And I think I might get back to a little crochet - it has been awhile.

Linking up to JAQ Studios - Made by Me WednesdaySew Much Ado - We did it! WednesdayFabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Okay, I'm off to check out the link parties to see what everyone else has been up to this week.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Liebster Award

Here is a peek at the small project I started yesterday.  I'll write about it later this week.  But for the actual subject of today's post:

I was so excited and flattered today when I opened my email to find a lovely note from Yzo at Chez Roo letting me know that she had selected me for the Liebster Blog Award.  The Liebster is presented to bloggers with less than 200 followers.  The rules are simple:  link to the blogger who presented the award to you (along with a thank you - Thanks Yzo!), copy and paste the blog award on your blog, and then spread the love by presenting the award to 5 other bloggers with less than 200 followers (and let them know that you have selected them by leaving a comment on their blog.)

It was hard to pick just 5 from among all the new blogs I've been reading (including the wonderful blogs I've found through link parties like the Small Blog Meet on Lily's Quilts which is where I met Yzo) but here are my choices:

Nik at bold goods
Farah Lin at Handmade by Farah Lin
Sarah at Silly Banana Sewing
Sarah Lou at Sarah-Lou
Suz at Claas Creations

Please be sure to visit these lovely new blogs as well as Chez Roo.  And thanks for the recognition Yzo!

Friday, April 20, 2012

An HST Doll Quilt

I finally tried making Half Square Triangles and now I know what all the fuss is about!  They really are fun and easy to put together.  Whoever came up with the right sides together, draw a line down the middle, sew two lines, and cut was genuis!

I used this charm pack from the "big order" from months ago that I had regrettably prewashed.

Made one and squared it:

Made many more and squared them:

Then I just started arranging and rearranging and mixed in some of the now completely gone solid yardage that I had in my stash (actually, I had to cut some off one of my WIPs - Yikes!)

And, the Sun and Water Blocks doll quilt was born (have I mentioned that my kids name the quilts???)

I'm again not sure this is exactly my aesthetic but I guess my aesthetic is growing.  And I really enjoyed the HST method so I think when my new fabric order comes, I'll make another one.

This was another doll-sized, stroller-size quilt.  I like making this size because it can be done in a few nap times, allows me to experiment with new techniques, and it is actually the most practical size for me right now - great for the stroller and floor for the baby AND great for my older girls for their dolls and for gifts for other little girls who love getting things for their dolls.

Linking up to Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict,  Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, and Sew and Tell Friday at Amylouwho.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The "Just Start Sewing Quilt"

Since my sewing time is limited to an ever-shrinking nap time, I need to have a project ready to go as soon as I put the baby in the crib.  And when I don't have a plan, I tend to waste those precious moments deciding what to do.  And to make it even worse, my fabric stash is running very low right now so I can't even start many of the projects on my list - What to do, what to do?!?  Well, what I did was dump my box of scraps out on the ironing board looking for inspiration.  Nothing immediately came to mind so I decided to just start sewing.  And this is what happened:

And then this:

I added some turquoise/aqua-y quilting and binding (attached to back first and then sewn down with a zig zag to the top - which is my favorite machine stitched binding method so far) and got this:

The "Improv Corner Quilt."

Sadly, I also had a lot of this:

I've used dark solids before and haven't had a lint issue but with this quilt - Wow!  I don't even have a lint brush so I had to use masking tape to remove the lint before taking the photos.  I'll see what happens after I wash it - any suggestions?

In other quilty news, I did start making granny squares this week.  My first two squares turned out less than stellar so I sewed them into a zip pouch instead and I'll start again when my kona yardage comes in the mail.

And, lastly, I used some of the leftover charms from the City Weekend pack I used to make this quilt and made up this quick bag.  I used the bright thread to quilt this as well - it looks so much more subdued here, don't you think?

On the list for this week:
1.  Writing a project list!
2.  Using the rest of the squares from my Little Apples Doll Quilt to make a pillow and a bag.
3.  Trying again with the Granny Square Quilt (when the Kona arrives).
4.  Finally trying HSTs.

Linking up to JAQS Studios - Made by Me WednesdaySew Much Ado - We did it! WednesdayFabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.