Scrap Wool Felt + a Button = Super Quick Xmas Gift

As I mentioned in my last post, this holiday season has me on the run. I don’t have much time to take on big projects with my gift giving. I love a good sewn project as much as anyone, but my quick go-to is always jewelry making. Bead stores have the best stuff for impromptu inspiration. And, if I still feel the need to add a stitch, well, I opt to make a jewelry pouch to hold my handmade gift. You’ve heard my schtick before and you’ve seen samples of my passion for pouches here and here.

This year I’ve been a bit obsessed with natural stone jewelry that I can dangle from a “universal” earring base.

Projects-J:  Earrings for 2014 gifts

The top row sports the universal base. All I need to do is slip off the dangling jewel and slip on another one. Very cool!

In honor of Christmas, I decided to make red wool felt jewelry pouches for my handiwork. I repurposed the wool from a tree skirt that I made a couple of years ago. The sad tale was that my pretty red skirt with  glued on felt snowflakes was taken out by a flood when the Christmas tree toppled and spewed water from the reservoir across the floor. That was also the celebration when my some of my votive candleholders shattered on the hearth. After all that I think the felt scraps should be directed to projects with inherently better karma, like gift giving.

Project-J:  Jewelry pouches for gifts

These pouches are 4 x 9 inches folded to 3.5 inches and machine blanket stitched along the edges. Super simple to make and very nice for stowing in suitcases for travel. The fun part is adding sparkle with a jeweled button or beads.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Jennifer Signature

 

It’s a “Hazy Shade of Winter” at SHWS, but I Will Conquer Xmas!

Despite not having to tackle my traditional major family party on the 24th, I have a feeling that Christmas is running away from me this year. We’re already in double digits on the December calendar?!? Where did the time go between that last bite of pumpkin pie and today? [soundtrack:  primal, panicked scream!] Keep it together, woman!

Okay, enough with the hysteria, here’s one of my accomplishments from this week:  a completed quilt. You might recall my posts on a quilt of crosses called Purple Haze (here’s the first post). I was on the fence about the finished quilt top. The good news is that I am a fan now! That attitude switch comes courtesy of Kathy August, the long arm quilter who took my quilt from slightly odd to FAB-U-LOUS!

Quilt-J:  Detail of reverse side of Jennifer's Purple Haze
Long-arm quilter Kathy August outlined each bird and then quilted the top in unevenly spaced horizontal lines.
Quilt-J:  Detail of Jennifer's Purple Haze
Front side of Purple Haze–can you see the bird outlines?

Kathy actually finished the quilting in October, along with my son’s birthday quilt, but I pretty much ignored the purple monster until last Thursday night when I picked up the folded quilt from the corner of the floor of my husband’s empty office-in-the-making, where it had languished for many weeks.

Quilt-J:  Auditioning binding for Jennifer's Purple Haze
Auditioning the Kaffe Fasset stripe from Westminster Fabric.

A striped fabric was my top choice for binding, although my stash was a bit thin on color/quantity candidates. I found about a half-yard of a Kaffe Fassett Westminister stripe with a sizable bias-sliced chunk removed. No way sufficient for a queen-size quilt. Ah well. I gathered the candidates and, the next day, took them to my friend Cyndy Rymer’s for an impromptu lunch with my quilt/dining group. Turns out they were in unanimous support of the stripe, which put an annoying internet fabric search for more yardage on my agenda. Until, that is, Cynderella went stash diving in her collection and found a complete set of 3-inch strips of that very fabric in her Kaffe box. (She’s got some wonders locked away in that fabric treasure trove!) Christmas lesson:  Seek and ye shall find.

Quilt-J:  Detail view of binding, Jennifer's Purple Haze
Detail view of finished binding

It’s truly amazing how well-planned and executed quilting (Kathy August’s amazing spin on my original minimal idea) plus a perfect binding candidate can win over a doubting quilt maker. I am enchanted by the result. I love it! That’s very good because I’ve got bedrooms to furnish for the return of my fellas for the holidays . . . they’ll have to flip a coin for the bed with the fancy new quilt.

Quilt-J:  Jennifer's Purple Haze
I had the B Team holding the quilt today, my A Team has grown up and launched. Looks like I’ve got to train the new guys on quilt holding techniques cuz, among other things, I just realized the quilt needs a flip to the right.

See ya Friday here at SHWS . . . perhaps I’ll reach holiday zen by then, but I’m not optimistic. In the meantime, though, take a gander at my stress-relieving effort for the Christmas season–month-long Ballet Conditioning classes led by Katarina Wester, a former soloist at the Royal Opera Ballet in Stockholm, Sweden and an incomparable teacher. (Jennifer was not harmed as a result of Katarina squishing her straddle split because she weighs nothing, but J. may be very sore tomorrow!)

Inspiration-J:  Katarina Wester's hard-core conditioning class

p.s.  Hazy Shade of Winter–Paul Simon!

 

Jennifer Signature

St. Nick Stockings

While I was visiting my home town in Iowa a few weeks ago, I was part of a 2 day “Quilt Fest” fundraiser. I shared a project with the quilters called St. Nick Stockings. I can’t take too much credit for this pattern, because it started with a freebie pattern from Moda called Secret Santa Stocking. You can get a Moda’s free downloadable pattern here: Secret Santa Stocking.

Moda Secret Santa Stocking

If you know anything about me, you know that I can’t ever leave well enough alone. I decided to enlarge it, make a few different sizes, then add a lining and a contrasting cuff. Here are my 3 sizes that I used for class samples.St. Nick's Stockings
It was so fun to watch the quilters at Quilt Fest come up with different fabric combinations. Here are a few of the stockings created that day.

 Iowa stocking 1     Iowa stocking 3

Iowa stocking 2   Iowa stocking 4

Iowa stocking 7   Iowa stocking 8

Iowa stocking 5   Iowa stocking 6

 Aren’t they fun?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Pati Fried Signature

Simple Wedge Tree Skirt

Friday already? Yikes! I’m still curious about where November went. I’m guessing like many of you, this is a busy time of the year. Thanksgiving always seems to sneak up on me and then I start rushing in preparation for Christmas. I’m not one to purchase gifts throughout the year, but instead I wait until I’m inspired. I guess that’s why they call me “Last-Minute Laura.” Oh well, it works for me.

I’m still organizing my sewing/quilting room and promise to share photos as soon as it is ready for viewing. It amazes me how much stuff one person can collect over a 30-year period. I am happy to report that I HAVE donated lots of it, but there is still so much left to organize . . . one box at a time.

I needed to take a break from all the boring work and decided to do something simple and creative. I may be one of the last sewers/quilters who wraps the base of the family tree with a piece of holiday-printed fabric. Not this year, I decided it was time to actually make a proper skirt for our tree.

Our tree isn't up yet so I must use a cabinet for display.
Our tree isn’t up yet so I must use a cabinet for display.

I was recently given a 9-degree wedge ruler and thought it might be fun to cut and sew pieces together to form the needed circle. It’s pretty simple, and just 5 fat quarters are needed to make this skirt.

skirt4

skirt5

After sewing the 40 wedges together, I felt it needed some decorative trim around the edge. Prairie points! After sewing them on I preferred the look of them folded inward and so I decided to secure them through the layers with red beads. I think it makes for a nice finishing touch.

Buttons, beads or even bells could be used to secure the points.
Buttons, beads or even bells could be used to secure the points.

OK, skirt done. Now I just need to get the tree up so I can enjoy the new look, at least until the presents make their appearance. Speaking of presents, here’s a fun website I stumbled across today. If you enjoy unique gift wrappings you will enjoying watching the many tutorials. I am anxious to try the pleated one, it’s adorable. Click here to watch the beautiful Japanese gift wrapping by SHIHO Style and Design.

Enjoy!

Laura Signature

Blackbirds & Blossoms OH-LA-LA! Our Completed Quilt-Along Quilt

Quilt-Along-J:  Center blockHow did December sneak up on us so quickly? Seems like were were just introducing our first Quilt-Along quilt and, in the blink of an eye, we are revealing the finished product. With the help of our talented friend and long-arm quilter Cyndy Rymer we were able to complete it in time for this post. I attached the binding last night and, since we had a bit of sunshine today, I was able to take a few nice shots outdoors.

We are quite pleased with the quilt and hope you feel the same. If you have been following along and have any photos to share, we would love for you to send them our way. We always enjoy seeing your work.

Sooooo drumroll . . .  here are some photos showing an overview as well as details shots featuring some of the design motifs Cyndy used throughout the quilt.  I am also adding some notes that Cyndy made about her quilting design process.

QAL1

QAL5

Cyndy: “I have to admit it was a terrifying honor to be asked to quilt the fabulous quilt-along project that Laura, Jennifer, and Pati created. But hey, I love a good challenge. And the quilt suits my taste – very whimsical and fun. I’m still a young punk in the world of long-arm quilting, and I admit to hanging out on every pro quilter’s corner looking for tips. Last year, I bought a Nolting Pro 24 machine with an Intelliquilter computer system, which allows me to use other designer’s digitized designs as well as those of my own design. And, I have to admit, this was my first stab at designing. Let me tell you, it is NOT easy. I created the quilted designs in the large triangles, but the stitching path was not very elegant. I used the repeated circles in the quilt as the inspiration for most of the quilting, but did free-motion echo quilting in the areas around the center of the quilt. I thought about feathers for the outer border, but thought a vine with circles and leaves to be more appropriate. Hope you agree! What fun.

 

QAL7

 

QAL4

 

QAL6

Check out our Pinterest Board to see all the photos of the quilt, and all of the projects that were inspired by this quilt. Blackbirds and Blossoms Pinterest Board

Happy December everyone! Hope you have enjoyed the project as well as the insights of our quilter, Cyndy Rymer.

Until next time, happy holidays!

Laura Signature

 

 

Memory Board Game, A How-To-Make Tutorial

Since many of you have requested instructions on making the Memory Board Game I made in a previous post, I’ve decided to write a short tutorial giving the simple instructions. It’s a fun and easy project to make, using vinyl chalkboard fabric on the cover. It is a perfect “quiet” game doubling as both a drawing board and matching game board. Start collecting your favorite fun fabrics and  kid-type prints and get ready to create!  In case you missed the original post on this project, it was included here, with the review of Lisa Fulmer’s new book “Craft Your Stash”.

Screen shot 2014-10-26 at 7.56.34 PM

The finished size of the game board is 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″. It folds in half like a book and is secured on the side with a ribbon tie. You can certainly make your game board any size, in fact you may want to adjust it to accommodate the size of the picture squares, or rectangles. Just have fun with this one! Will make an adorable game for a special little one in your life.

 

Supplies

 

Here’s what you will need:

10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ piece of vinyl chalkboard/blackboard fabric

Two 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ pieces of felt

Two 2-1/2″ x 10″ pieces of Timtex or Peltex (heavyweight stabilizer)

Twenty- four kid-prints or fun fabrics; dots, numbers and letters work well too.  May be more or less, depending on size of prints.

1/2 yard of fusible web

20″ piece of 1″ ribbon, cut in half

Thread & glue

Rotary cutter – I used a scalloped edge blade for added interest

A walking foot will be helpful for stitching through the layers.

Box of colored chalk

Fabric to make small pouch to store chalk and matching squares.

 

Instructions:

1. Press the fusible web onto the wrong side of all the kid prints.

2. Cut the fabrics into squares, using the rotary cutter. Need two squares of each image. Remove the paper backing from the fusible web.

3. Arrange one-half of the squares onto one piece of felt, leaving a larger space in the center to allow for folding in half.

Board1

 

4. Arrange the other (matching) set of picture squares onto the other piece of felt.

5. Press to secure the picture squares and then stitch both horizontally and vertically approximately 1/4″ from the edges of the squares.

6. With the right side of the chalkboard fabric facing out, layer with the pieces of stabilizer and then one piece of felt.

7. Insert one piece of ribbon on each side of the board, between the layers. Use a little glue to hold in place.

8. Stitch through all layers around the entire edge of the board.

Board3

9. Use the rotary cutter to cut around the picture squares which were stitched to the second piece of felt. These are used to match/cover the picture squares stitched to the board.
Here’s the final game, front and back.
Game board with matching pieces.
Game board with matching pieces.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
10. Consider making a small fabric pouch for storing the matching squares along with a box of colored chalk.
Hope you found this helpful. Until next time everyone, take care everyone.

Laura Signature

 

 

Quilt Assembly How-To’s for the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along

Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! quarter view--thought we'd wait for the quilting to premiere the whole quilt . . .
Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! quarter view–thought we’d wait for the quilting to reveal the whole quilt . . .

Project-J:  Quilt-Along Quilt Assembly Instructions

Project-J:  Quilt-Along Quilt Assembly Instructions

Project-J:  Quilt-Along fabric layout

Project-J:  Quilt-Along Quilt Assembly Instructions

Double border detail of our quilt-along.
Double border detail of our quilt-along.

Project-J:  Quilt-Along Quilt Assembly InstructionsThere you have it, a road map to a completed Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along. Click the Pattern tab for all the instructions. Next month we’ll show you the completed quilt and discuss other finishing details. Thanks to Laura for the final measurements and instructions!

Start your sewing machines . . . Jennifer Signature

 

Don’t You Just Love it When Quilt Blocks Fit Together?

Theme and border fabrics for baby hexie quilt:  Wee Wander by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabric. (click image to visit Sarah Jane)
Theme and border fabrics for baby hexie quilt: Wee Wander by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabrics. (click image to visit Sarah Jane)

Hello. Yes, I’m still in project-making mode here and have just completed a baby quilt for the daughter of family friends that I’d love to share with you. Initially, I thought I’d go full Modern, but her mother’s words uttered years ago rang in my memory, “Rebecca is such a girly girl.”

Somehow minimal stripes and lots of quilted negative space weren’t suitable for her, especially with the naïve and pretty prints I’d selected for the baby quilt. I’d cued their selection on a preview photo of Rebecca’s freshly painted nursery.

A Pinterest tour (yes, again, I turned to that dazzling output of creativity) yielded good inspiration, but nah, I didn’t bite. For some reason hexagons piqued my interest, plus they are fun and current. I had so much fun making a Kaffe Fassett hexagon quilt last year that I decided to pull the book from my shelf and take a look. Okay, I felt a shiver of excitement—that was a good sign. If I reduced the number of hexies I figured I could execute a sweet little quilt.

Assembling hexies--opted for an inset detail with the setting triangles for a playful touch.
Assembling hexies–opted for an inset detail with the setting triangles for a playful touch.

Little did I know that “why not?” decision would set me off on one of the best quilt-building weeks I’ve experienced in ages. I had a blast because the pattern assembled like a dream and the cotton/linen fabric combination I’d selected made for perfect pressed seams with my brand-new iron. (Had to trash the old one because it sparked and burned me—fair warning: make sure your iron cord is intact, not worn to bare wire!)

Pressed like a dream--classical sewing technique suggests the reverse side should match the front in execution . . . maybe I had one of those moments?!?
Pressed like a dream–classical sewing technique suggests the reverse side should match the front in execution . . . maybe I had one of those moments?!?
Stained glass view:  back lit finished quilt top.  The insets of the setting triangles illuminated.
Stained glass view: back lit finished quilt top. The insets of the setting triangles illuminated.

As a technical sewer I’m typically a bit haphazard. Now I don’t mean to say that I’m sloppy, I just don’t always end up with a full set of perfect blocks and my quilt tops might have some squirrely matches as a result. Not so with the baby hexie quilt:  aren’t those points delicious?

Sewn with care, this Kaffe Fassett pattern builds perfectly!
Sewn with care, this Kaffe Fassett pattern builds perfectly!
Detail view of the long-arm quilting of Cyndy Rymer.
Detail view of the long-arm quilting of Cyndy Rymer.

I delivered the quilt to the new parents this past Saturday and met tiny William, a perfect little sweetheart of a baby boy. Very manly! Parents and grandparents are over the moon with his arrival—although the novice mother and father could do with a good night’s sleep! Oh I remember that well . . . one groggy night I got lost on the way to the nursery right next door to our bedroom!

Mini hexie quilt label made with scraps.
Mini hexie quilt label made with scraps.
Ready for delivery along with Woodland Bunny by Jellycats--I've got my own Jellycat puppy standing guard by my sewing machine (yes, small obsession!).
Ready for delivery along with Woodland Bunny by Jellycats–I’ve got my own Jellycat puppy standing guard by my sewing machine (yes, a small obsession!).

Isn’t it fun to share quilted love with a new generation? Check back on Friday for the next installment of the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along–it’s time to finish up the quilt top! Type “Quilt-Along” in the blog Search bar to find the prior installments–also refer to the Pattern library for instructions.

 

Jennifer Signature

 

A Quilt From The Wild Blue Yonder + A Giveaway Winner

Quilt-J:  Wild Blue Yonder by Jennifer Rounds
A finished birthday quilt called Wild Blue Yonder–sorry, way too big to fit in the viewfinder!

Wow!  Seems like ages since I sat at the keyboard to type a post. My blogging sisters Laura and Pati have been very busy. In that interval I’ve been hard at work on a personal quilt-making project, a birthday gift for my oldest son. My children have reached the age when they need household stuff of all sorts; a fact that my eldest is still having trouble processing. Last Christmas was a real eye opener for him when his brother got very excited unwrapping a blender. His expression and snarky remarks were priceless:  du-du-du-du, du-du-du-du . . . we’ve entered the Twilight Zone! Let’s hope he’s emerged by now and will welcome a birthday quilt.

Quilt-J:  Finished scrappy blue quilt top

Impromptu is the byword for my gift inspiration. It all started at Pinterest with an image of a simple, two-color quilt that could plumb the depths of my stash of blue fabrics. Hmm: that’s a maybe for my (grown) baby . . .

Quilt-J:  LuluBloom quilt on Pinterest

I really don’t know why after collecting countless images from Pinterest that that blue-and-yellow quilt fired my creative jets. What actually impels forward motion? Easy. Check. Colorful. Yup. Guy friendly. Hope so. Doable without a single fabric purchase? Maybe . . . Whatever it was, I was in for the adventure.

Quilt-J:  Scrappy blue quilt
Countless pairings of blue prints paired up again and again and again.

Many, many miles of stitches, later plus one tiny fabric purchase to lively up the mix–only an eighth of a yard, I swear–and I was done. Wild Blue Yonder clocked in at 92 x 102 inches. Yikes, that’s a lot of backing fabric! I did have significant yardage of pair of fabrics as backing candidates, but the blue edged toward grayish green.

Quilt-J:  Auditioning quilt backing
Nope, can’t do it. Wrong blue tone. So much for a thrifty project.

The quilt sat marooned on the constructed backing for a week while I struggled with the limitations of the challenge I set for myself. To date I’d spent $3–purchasing a backing would throw my ideal budget awry. What set me shopping for an answer was something surprisingly effective; my husband remarked, as he took a look at the quilt that was taking up the floor in his soon-to-be office:  “That backing doesn’t work.” The budget exploded, but I found a fantastic super-wide batik that required absolutely no seaming.

Quilt-J:  Kathy August's machine quilting
Big Blue Yonder machine quilted by Kathy August in a mod motif.

As I decided to share the quilt on the blog, it behooved me to backtrack and establish the provenance of the idea. It turns out I hadn’t “pinned” the actual image, instead I’d taken a screen shot and left it on my desktop with scads of other images. Here’s where the story gets twisty. I went off to Australia to check the origins of the bicolor strip quilt idea before checking the blog of the quilter who made the actual quilt. So first I learned about a fantastic quilting mom Down Under who designs very pretty quilt patterns in between having beautiful children. And then I did the logical thing and backtracked to find the designer of the quilt pattern I used as inspiration. She is a creative mother as well.

Quilt-J:  Scrappy faced binding
Scrappy faced binding for the perimeter–except for the backing this was a true stash buster.

The upshot of my online adventure is that I’m confirmed in my amazement of this prolific, clever, and creative new generation of quilt makers. Not so long ago there was pessimistic talk about the future of our creative arts and the loss of brick-and-mortar shops. The present and future don’t look quite the way we expected, but Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, and a boatload of other online venues show that creativity is aflourishing globally. To me that’s humanity’s redemption. Despite truly vile things, there are places where beautiful expressions of our artistry flourish.  Please, please, please: beauty must trump ugly–Make, Create, Share! (Okay, I’ve appropriated Lisa Fulmer’s tagline–hope she doesn’t mind!)

Giveaway Winner Here

Congratulations Beth T, you are the winner of a copy of Lisa Fulmer’s fabulous book!

Jennifer Signature