As bloggers, my SHWS sisters and I review our readership numbers regularly to see what posts have been popular with viewers. That certainly helps us figure out if we’re writing about topics that are appealing, informational, and–we hope–fun.
Here’s the rundown for 2013. Clearly you like clever people, projects, products, and how-to guidance. Some pre-date 2013, which shows that we’ve truly hit on a topic of universal interest.
This Christmas elf is officially on holiday . . . I’ve baked, cooked, decorated, and entertained; I’ve shopped, packed/shipped, and wrapped; and, best of all, I’ve hugged, kissed, and celebrated with family and friends; and now, I’m officially taking a break for a couple of days!
However, I do know that there are those among us who don’t kick back for a holiday breather and who want to jumpstart Christmas 2014 projects. For those hardy souls, I offer a FREE Santa Smiles Tree Skirt Pattern giveaway opportunity. You have been so supportive of my paper-pieced Santa Claus and Christmas Tree designs and I want to express my thanks to our dear readers.
Leave me a comment by Monday, December 30 and I will announce a winner in the Tuesday post. Here’s your seasonal question: What’s your favorite part of the Christmas holiday? To me it’s the teasing and laughter shared on Christmas morning with my sons and husband. Even though the guys are big boys now, we still see the essence of those wide-eyed, goofy little fellas who were so funny and joyful as they tore through their presents. Yes, the humor is more sophisticated now, and I am the butt of jokes for some of my gift choices, but there’s lots of love there and those moments are priceless to us.
If you believe thriftiness is a byword for quilt making well, then you’ve stopped by the right blog today. I’ve got a ridiculously quick seasonal project for your wool felt scraps (or for any other double-sided fabric).
After all my recent tree skirt madness, I’ve got an abundance of odd-shaped scraps of silvery gray wool felt that I’d used to back my first tree-skirt prototype. The felt backing was a recent attempt at quilting thriftiness: Why use batting and backing fabric, when wool felt could do the work of the two textiles?!!? Sure, it was a cost-saving alternative as tree skirt backing, but I ran into a couple of issues that I’ll share in case anyone else is looking for alternative quilt-backing fabrics. I pre-washed the felt to make it softer, but suffered shrinkage and ripply edges. Then, of course, I had to buy more fabric, piece the backing, and then watch those savings evaporate. The other issue to note is that batting adds loft, which is pretty cool when you want your quilt’s surface design to advance and retreat visually. That’s not as apparent with the flatter wool felt backing, although there’s lovely texture.
Where was I? Oh yes, an excellent use of wool felt scraps. Cast your memory back to SHWS Year 1 posts and you’ll see a post about a Quick & Easy Jewelry Pouch (with an earring holder)–you’ll find the instructions to download on our FREE Patterns page. My Jewelry Pouch 2.0 is even easier! In fact, it’s so quick that I’m not going to go all formal and write up pattern instructions. You’ll the hang of it with the project images and a couple of how-to sentences.
Wood felt scraps; embellishments like buttons, beads, trims, embroidery thread etc.; and a 6 x 12 inch quilting ruler
Cut one 6 x 12 inch strip of wool felt
Fold up one edge 3 1/2 inches.
Overlap the top edge 3 1/2 inches to measure a folded rectangle 5 x 6 inches.
Pin both sides, making sure the edges are even. Sew the seams using a buttonhole stitch by hand or sewing machine.
Add your decorative details.
Optional Bracelet/Necklace Folder Insert
Cut one strip 4 x 10 inches.
Mark the horizontal center line with pins placed at either outside edge.
Fold both edges to meet the centered pins. Pin both sides, making sure the edges are even. Create a folded rectangle 4 x 5 inches.
Sew the seams using a buttonhole stitch by hand or sewing machine.
I’ve been using the jewelry pouches as holiday wrap for the earring and bracelet combos I made for friends. The pouches are also terrific standalone gifts as they are stocking-stuffer size.
Random Other Matters
Back in early November Laura announced our guest-book-reviewer program. We’ve selected our trio of reviewers and will be sending the books out for their insights. Reviewers note: I’ll mail the books just after this insane holiday rush is complete!
Tana Doss get Making Fabric Jewelry by Martha Le Van from Lark Crafts.
Patchwork Please! by Ayumi Takahashi Interweave/F+W Media goes to Lynn of Sprinkles of Flavor.
Mary Kolb get the Pretty in Patchwork Doll Quilts by Cathy Gaubert from Lark Crafts.
Santa Smiles Christmas Tree Skirt Pattern
So, in other matters, I promised one Santa Smiles tree skirt pattern purchaser a set of beads to embellish their Santa Claus faces. The winner is Karen Stewart.
I’ve got a paper version of the tree skirt pattern coming up shortly for sale at www.rosiequilters.com. I’ll let you know when it’s available–you could actually get a jump start on Christmas 2014!
Well, if you recall, I promised to reveal the contents in today’s posting. But first a little background. I’m lucky enough to be part of a group of five creative women who meet from time to time to share our latest projects, offer inspiration (and–occasionally–moral support), and just to enjoy each other’s company. Each year we plan a holiday dinner to celebrate our friendship and to participate in a secret Santa exchange. As we’re all avid quilters, it’s not unusual for some–if not all–gifts to be items we’ve crafted ourselves.
This year, I drew Kim Butterworth as my “giftee.” Here’s what Kim found inside that package.
I love the idea of keeping a special book as a journal, sketchbook, or idea book, and–as Kim is a super creative lady–I suspected she might too. Rather than purchasing a decorative book from a stationer or bookstore, I thought it would be fun to create something more personal. Here’s how I did it.
The cut sizes of the cover and lining fabrics, fusible, and batting will depend upon the size of the book you plan to cover. The book I chose measured approximately 6″ x 8 1/2″, with a 1/2″ wide spine. We’ll use that for our example.
Figuring Measurements and Cutting
(Tip: Keep track of the measurements by writing them down and labeling them as you go.)
1. Double the width of the cover and add the width of the spine. To this figure, add 6″ for the book flaps and 2″ for turnover allowance. Label this measurement A. (Example: 6″ width of book x 2 = 12″ + 1/2″spine + 6″ flaps + 2″ turnover = 20 1/2″.)
2. Add 2″ to the length of the book for turnover allowance, and then add another 1/2″ for “wiggle room.” Label this measurement B. (Example: 8 1/2″ length of book + 2″ turnover + 1/2″ wiggle room = 11″.)
3. Cut the cover fabric and one piece of lightweight fusible equal to measurement A x measurement B. (Example: 20 1/2″ x 11″.)
4. Subtract 2″ from measurement A. (Example, 20 1/2″ – 2″ = 18 1/2″). Label this measurement C.
5. Subtract 2″ from measurement B. (Example, 11″ – 2″ = 9″.) Label this measurement D.
6. Cut one piece each of cotton batting, fusible web, and lining fabric equal to measurement C x measurement D. (Example, 18 1/2″ x 9″.)
No more math. Now comes the fun part!
Making the Book Cover
(Note: Construction is similar to that used for the checkbook cover I shared with you last December.)
1. Fuse the lining fabric, right side up, to the batting using the matching-sized piece of fusible web.
2. Apply the larger (matching-sized) piece of fusible web to the wrong side of the cover fabric.
3. Center the prepared batting, lining side up, over the fusible-web side of the prepared cover fabric. Starting with the two long sides, turn the cover fabric to the lining; press to fuse. Repeat for both short sides, squaring the corners; press. Clip excess fabric at the corners on the diagonal.
4. Fold the unit in half, lining sides together; press. Unfold, and then fold both ends of the unit inward 3″; press. Insert the book to check for fit.
5. Remove the book; refold the cover. Measure and mark the center of the front and back of the cover (not the flaps) for ribbon placement.
6. Center a length of decorative ribbon over the marked guideline, making sure to leave tails for tying. Use matching thread to stitch the ribbon to the front and back cover.
7. Quilt and/or embellish as desired. I used stencils to trace and fuse Kim’s name to the front cover. An embroidered monogram, rows of decorative stitching, lace, buttons, and beads are just a few other options. Be creative!
8. Refold the two flaps back toward the center, lining sides together. Starting with a few backstitches, topstitch a 1/8″ seam all around the perimeter of the unit. Finish with a few backstitches.
Insert the book, tie the ribbons, and your gift is complete!
I hope you find time for some stitching this holiday season! Best wishes . . .
P.S. Click here to read Jennifer’s earlier profile of Kim Butterworth, and to see some of her wonderful work.
Can you believe that Christmas is just a week away?
If you’re like me, the next seven days are jam-packed with holiday-related activities. As the classic embodiment of “last-minute Lulu” (to borrow a phrase from our sister blogger emeritus, Christie Batterman), that means I’m scrambling for clever (translate: quick, easy, and budget-conscious) ideas for–among myriad other seasonal activities–secret Santa and ornament exchanges and for freshening up our usual holiday décor.
Enter Pinterest. (Okay. I’ll admit it. I’m hooked!) During a recent browse, I came across a little goodie that was a perfect match for my time, pocketbook, and “in stock” materials.
Immediately I clicked on the link to find the source, and discovered a delightful DIY site called funEZcrafts. This site is loaded with great ideas: simple, fun, and–in many cases–utilizing materials already on hand in the workroom of any enthusiastic quilter/crafter. For the Button and Yarn Snowman Ornament, the required items were a few white, red, and black buttons (Buttons? Do I have buttons?!!); a bit of red yard; a scrap of narrow red and/or green ribbon; scissors; a ruler; and a toothpick.
Bingo! I was in business. Within minutes, I had a cute little snowman, ready for the tree.
Enthusiastically, I returned to the funEZcrafts site. Here are a few other sweet and disarmingly “doable” projects to be found under the Christmas Crafts tab. For example, I loved this jaunty Felt and Twig Snowman.
Each project on the funEZcrafts website includes a chart and photo illustrating the necessary materials and clear, step-by-step, photo-illustrated instructions. Hint:Looking for something to keep the kids or grandkids busy, engaged, and entertained in the countdown until the big day? You’ll find terrific ideas on this site for great kid-friendly gifts for teacher, babysitter, or grandma. Check under Felt Crafts for such diverse projects as a business card holder, cosmetic pouch . . . even a cupcake paperweight. (Just be sure the young ones are old enough for projects that involve small items such as buttons or beads.)
Many thanks to Sara at funEZcrafts for granting permission to use photos from her site. Oh, and by the way: It didn’t take long to realize that my button Frosty ornament had other possibilities as well. Here, he becomes a festive “add on” to a secret Santa gift.
In Friday’s post, I’ll reveal what’s inside that package, along with instructions for making the contents.
And now, as I promised, the second half of my holiday trip to the Central Coast of California. We spent an entire day in Solvang, the Danish Village and had so much to do and see!
Everywhere you turned was a picture perfect view.
Solvang was definitely dressed for the Christmas Season.
Every store front had it’s own Christmas tree.
Yes, that really is a thatched roof!
It was fun to see how each shop business decorated their tree.
Some had a bit more personality than others.
We couldn’t pass up a chance to get a tour of the town on the trolley.
Lovely drivers, don’t you think?
More European architecture. I loved every building.
We finished off with the local cuisine.
And some yummy pastries.
What a great day in Solvang! It definitely put me in the holiday spirit.
Pati’s Thoughts on Building Community in Our Quilt World
As the year comes to an end, one of my favorite local quilt shops is closing. It is giving me time to think about how our brick-and-mortar shops are more than just places to buy fabric and the effect a closing has, not only on the owners, but on our quilting community.
Quilt shops are meeting places for all of us like-minded quilt fanatics to share ideas, catch up with dear friends, and find inspiration for our next projects. They are places for new quilters to learn and grow, and for finding guidance when needed. They are spots for organizations to gather and focus on making children’s quilts or pillowcases for soldiers. Let’s not forget that quilt shops also generate income for their talented and supportive employees; and the wonderful teachers that host ongoing courses and drop-in classes.
I realize that times change and life moves on. I also realize, as our dear Laura pointed out to me, “When one door closes, another one opens.” This is very true. But I am seeing the end of an era for me and friends with my local shop’s closure; and I am feeling a bit melancholy.
I would like to remind everyone how important it is to treasure your community of quilters and support your local quilt shops. The community it builds makes us who we are. The old-fashioned quilting bees weren’t just solo acts. They gathered many quilters, at many different skill levels, and personalities to create, inspire and support each other. I feel the same way about the quilts I have created over the years. When I look the stack of quilts in my sewing room, I am reminded of the class I took for the blue one, the help my friend gave me on the red one, and the blocks I swapped for that scrappy one. They are cherished memories for me. These treasured moments took place under the roof of a brick-and-mortar quilt shop. I wish everyone well that has been affected by this closing. Just watch, my friends, another door is opening for us all.
When my husband and I got married, we made the mistake of having our wedding during the week of Thanksgiving. Through the years, most anniversaries have been spent traveling to or from relatives for family gatherings. This year, our 25th anniversary fell on the day before Thanksgiving. As we were hosting the holiday, and we knew it would end up another ignored event, we planned a getaway for a few days afterwards. Sunday came, all the leftovers were gone, and we ventured off for a drive down the central coast of California for a few days to be spent exploring Santa Barbara and some of the surrounding towns (and wineries!). It was a wonderful getaway and I thought I would share some images of the Holiday Season on California’s Central Coast.
Santa Barbara has a style all of it’s own when it comes to dressing up for the holiday season. I would describe it as somewhat “Coastal Mission Christmas.”
I would never have thought to pair palms with poinsettias, but it was a glorious combination.
Notice the adorned seal in the background?
And of course, the lobby of The Biltmore was over-the-top spectacular.
I thought I had a pretty substantial nutcracker collection – until I saw this array!
Orchids, missionary statues, and holiday ornaments. Really beautiful.
Okay, not very festive, but I loved these tiles and just had to share!!!
Off for a bit of shopping and some nibbles.
An early Christmas present from my sweet hubby. Well, this is Santa Barbara, right?
The end of a beautiful day. And then . . . there is a knock at our door . . .
I believe I could get used to spending every anniversary in Santa Barbara!
On Friday, I will share photos of the sweet town of Solvang, a Danish-influenced village near Santa Barbara. We spent an entire day perusing its shops and bakeries.
And the winner of Laura’s tea towel giveaway is . . .
Congratulations to Ellen McCaulley for winning Laura’s giveaway contest ! Ellen had so many great ideas for every personality. Ellen: you will be hearing from Laura soon!
Ahh, I’m seeing gift baskets everywhere these days. ‘Tis the season! I both enjoy giving and receiving them as they often contain some special little personalized treasures that have been carefully inserted with the recipient in mind. Having a theme gives me direction while on the hunt for items to include in my baskets.
You may remember from one of my previous posts, I mention the new spices I purchased in Portland at Penzey’s Spice Shop. I have decided to put together some holiday gift baskets for my girls that would include some of these spices along with some additional baking goodies. While on an outing to Cost Plus, I found these wonderful accessories.
The small containers are not only adorable, but so perfect for storing spices. I love that the ceramic tops come in different colors and coordinate with the bowls and measuring cups. Some decorative labels will help to identify the spices.
Seems that once I get on a roll, all sorts of possibilities become available. Tuesday, I found these wonderful tea towels on sale at my local quilt shop. I purchased four (two black and two blue) thinking I would do some quick hand embroidery or add simple appliqué shapes to each one. Instead, I found myself slicing and dicing to make quick-and -easy aprons. Note: I just went back today and purchased the pink and a few more black.
Here’s what you will need to make one apron:
Two tea towels
1/2 yard of ½”-wide elastic
1. Cut a 4″ wide strip from each long side of one of the towels. Since these towels have stripes, I cut 1/2″ away from the inside stripes to allow for seam allowance. You may adjust width depending on the design of your towel.
2. Turn and press the cut end of each strip and then stitch through all layers. These make the two waistband ties.
3. Cut the leftover piece of the first towel to measure 12-1/2″ x 12-1/2″. Fold, press, and stitch a narrow 1/4″ hem on all sides. This will be the apron bib.
4. On the second towel, measure 1-3/4″ in from one long side. Turn and press to the wrong side, and then stitch close to the folded edge. (Note: The folded edge should already be hemmed, so simply stitch close to the fold.) Stitch again 1/2″ from the top folded edge to form a casing. Finally run a 1/2″ wide piece of elastic through the casing. The length of the elastic will depend on the desired finished width of your apron.
5. Use safety pins to secure the elastic on the ends, and then insert the waistband ties into the casing on each end. Stitch through all layers to secure.
6. Finally, attach the bib top to the apron skirt with two stitching lines. Use a ribbon or leftover piece of of the towel to make a short neck band. I turned the top corners of the bib back and secured with decorative buttons.
8. You can keep your apron simple or consider adding embellishments, such as rick-rack, pompoms, ruffles, embroidery, or appliqué. I’m heading out of town tomorrow and plan to bring these with me to add some hand embroidery both on the bib and along the bottom edge. Note: There is a leftover piece after cutting the bib top that can easily be used to make a pocket – no waste!
I think this simple idea offers many possibilities and I hope you try some of your own. I have an extra set of pink and blue towels and would love to give one set away to one of our readers. Just leave a short comment by end of day Sunday, December 8th, telling us what your favorite gift basket would include and we will announce the winner in our next post on December 10th.
Happy Holidays, dear readers! We’re now, officially, amidst the hustle and flow of winter celebrations and rushing about like mad things. I’m adding my bit to the insanity with a Santa Smiles Tree Skirt/Table Topper pattern. I placed a quickie message about it at the end of my last post about Diana McClun’s first and latest quilts, but now Laura’s lending me her Tuesday slot so I can give you more information.
After much hand-holding by an extended community, the tree skirt pattern is done and available for sale on my rosiequilters website as a downloadable pattern. Along the way I had to make not one, but two tree skirts! Which turns out to be a good thing after The Great Christmas Tree Toppling of 2009, when I lost both my tree skirt and a rickety tree stand.
The Christmas trees are bedecked in iridescent German glass beads and Swarovski crystal stars because sparkles are a holiday requirement.
Just in case you needed another look . . .
And another one . . .
Here’s the lowdown: The pattern consists of 2 downloadable PDF documents. One is the instructions in full color (printable on a home color printer/or copy shop) and the other contains the paper-pieced patterns (black & white, 11 x 17 inches, printable at a copy shop, unless you happen have an oversized home printer). While the first tree skirt took me ages to finish, the second one took a week and a half (in between work, exercise, spouse etc.). If you’re familiar with paper-piecing, then the project comes together pretty quickly.
You’ll remember that my original holiday paper-pieced blocks debuted last Christmas and that I even managed to set the blocks in a table runner before the year ended.
The table runner pattern + a NEW full-sized quilt pattern is available in the latest issue of The Quilt Life, on newsstands right now. Visit the magazine website for more information and the downloadable patterns–just click the image below.
Better watch out, better not cry because Santa’s smiling at you!
A Special Promotion for One Lucky Pattern Purchaser
I’m holding a limited number of the vintage German glass beads that I used to embellish the tree skirt and I’ll give away a full set of the beads for Santa’s face to one random purchaser of the pattern on my rosiequilters website by Sunday, December 15.