Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Burst of Sun in Fabric

Inspiration can come from anything. Or anyone. The trigger for the Sunburst Table Topper came from the planting done by one of my neighbors. The bright golds and orange colors are absolutely perfect as summer draws to a close.

Sunburst Table Topper 

I wouldn't have thought of this design at all if the neighbor hadn't planted a long, long row of sunflowers right next to the sidewalk. They grew and they grew until they were well over 10 feet high and topped by huge golden blossoms with dark brown centers. Every day as I've walked by I been compelled to stop and see what these fascinating plants have been up to. The golden petals have faded and are now dropping as the seeds ripen into black gems.

There was also a need for a small table topper. This one is only 18" in diameter. There's a little round cabinet in our family room that desperately needs a new topper. A Christmas topper has been sitting on it all summer because I have nothing else the right size. Spilled water soaked into it sometime during the winter and ruined the wood. It went undiscovered for several days, but that by the time I found it permanent damage had been done. I'm a bit tired of looking at poinsettias for months on end, so a new topper was definitely in order. Poinsettias will get their turn again soon enough.

As long as I was making something new, I chose to work on some brand new techniques. I'm always up for a challenge, and I've never made Dresden plate blocks. My experience with hexagons is limited as well, but the combination of those two patterns seemed perfect for my little burst of sunshine. I had a lot to learn!

I had originally thought to make this as the top portion of a square or octagonal block. Then I discovered that the pointed ends of the Dresden plate sections are made with the edges already turned under and completely finished! This wouldn't need to go onto another piece of fabric for background. Nice!

I'm getting ahead of myself just a bit, though. Let's start with the hexies. Lovely hexies, pretty hexies. Must they be stitched together by hand? It's so tedious! So I got out my handy dandy invisible polyester thread and set my machine for a very short, very narrow zigzag stitch.

Then I pushed those little basted hexies tightly together side by side and connected them the easy way! This was fun! In on the left, in on the right and done.

I liked this so much that I skipped the hand applique, too. I connected the hexies to the inner Dresden plate in the same way I'd connected them to each other. Then I used the technique one more time to sew the inner Dresden plate to the outer one. Not totally invisible, but definitely close. A word of warning, though. If you do this, make sure you get polyester, not nylon invisible thread!

I may have made a mistake in the cutting of the pieces. I should probably have cut the outer Dresden a few inches up from the bottom of the template. As it is, there is some fabric wasted when the excess is trimmed off. I decided to leave it like that, though, because the centers of the two Dresden plates line up perfectly and it's much easier to center the inner ring on the outer one. 

Now we get to the finishing of the table topper. This is where I was getting ahead of myself. In order to have those points at the outside of the topper I needed to make some alterations in how the batting and backing were attached. 

The batting had to be cut smaller than the quilt top.

The backing was trimmed just 1/4" larger than the quilt top all the way around and the inner points were clipped back to the batting. 

Unfortunately, not all hand stitching was eliminated. But, it seemed like a great tradeoff. Stitching around the outside was nothing at all compared to all the applique I might have done by hand!


Wishing you many golden days as the weather grows cooler. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Just Playing Around

This really has been a week of playtime.

Yesterday was my birthday and I spent part of the day at school giving book talks to three classes of fifth graders. It's one of my favorite things to do, and made for a lovely birthday activity. The children all sang "Happy Birthday" for me, and my teacher friends gave me a lovely vase of cut flowers - which I accidentally left in the classroom! I'll run back today to pick it up. 

The kiddos wanted to know how old I am. I usually just answer, saying that I'm too old to care if people know my age, but the truth is that I've never quite grasped why that was an issue with some folks. I told them and enjoyed watching their mouths drop in surprise. Anything over 30 seems ancient to them. "You're older than my grandmother!" one child gasped. I used to tell my students that I was born the year after the Pearl Harbor attack so they could do some research and figure it out for themselves. In actuality, I was born almost nine months to the day after that event. Now, what should I make of that tidbit?

I actually have done a bit of sewing this week. Not much, but some.

The Sunburst table topper is almost finished. I hadn't worked with Dresden plates before, and they are so popular right now. It was past time to get on board and learn the ins and outs of something new, so I doubled them and put two in one design. Just for good measure, I threw in some hexis. May as well do it all in one piece, don't you think? Along the way, I most definitely learned a lesson or two! More about that later when I have the table topper completely finished. 

Here it is as it was a few days ago. 

I've been fiddling with Christmas ornaments, too. As I said, I'm just playing around right now. Something on Pinterest caught my eye and I was off.  As always. 

As for Pinterest - my goodness! I went through my boards, rearranged lots of stuff, and deleted over a thousand pins. Then I got to the cookies and candies board. Big mistake! I should have just deleted the whole board without looking! This was the result.  We used to make similar little stovetop goodies when I was a teenager. I cooked them one day, but had to give them all away to the neighborhood children the next day. Too dangerous!

Yum!! Cocoa, milk, butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and oats.  

The next day my sweet son brought me chocolate covered cranberries. Sometimes a person just can't win. I can almost see the pounds adding on. 

Back to the sewing brainstorm from Pinterest: If you've been following my facebook page, you may already know that a new batch of little stuffed ornaments will be coming soon. I'm just getting started, and this project is taking me waaaay back to when I was eight or nine years old. I tried to make little stuffed toys by hand. I hadn't quite grasped the idea that seams take up space, so they didn't come out right. It didn't really matter. Lopsided with stuffing pushing out from gaps in the seams and all, I loved them anyway.  Thank goodness it's working a whole lot better now than it did on the first go-round.

What next? A snowman? Hearts? Hmm...

 Happy September, everyone!