Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Monday, September 14, 2015

New Toys, Part 2: Constructing the Styrofoam Wreath.

After two weeks of work, almost 300 photographs, and a ton of fun along the way, the wreath is finished! It turned out exactly as I had envisioned it, and that's the biggest surprise of all.

The photograph looks like it was taken in winter, but it was actually almost 90 degrees and humid out there on my porch.

These little toys are so very versatile! I attached them to a styrofoam wreath with long pins,  but I can see them used in so many different ways. I wish I had time to sew some different uses, but there is only so much time in a day.

These are just a few of my ideas:
  • Attach the toys to a ready made evergreen wreath. They would only need some little plastic or metal loops sewn to the back. Bits of wire threaded through the loops would attach nicely to the evergreen branches. 
  • Using the same little loops attached up at the top of the ornaments, the little toys would be wonderful tied onto a Christmas tree with pretty bits of ribbon. 
  • What about replacing the traditional bow on a package with a cute ornament? 
  • Stocking stuffers for older children!
  • I'm even visualizing mug rugs or Christmas stockings with fusible web appliques made from the templates

The pattern contains all the details for sewing the ornaments, so I'll focus on preparing the wreath in this blog post.

The Wreath

Any size or shape of styrofoam wreath would be fine for this project.

I started with a plain white 16" styrofoam wreath. I chose one with a flat top rather than one that was rounded. First, I wrapped it in a 2" bias strip from 1/2 yard of green fabric. Then I used an entire roll of sheer 2 1/2" green ribbon to wrap over the cotton.

 Wire based garland sections with holly, pinecones and evergreen came next.

I placed these on the wreath and used 5/8" sheer green ribbon tied on the back side of the wreath to hold these pieces in place The ribbon allows enough flexibility to allow positions to be altered here and there as the ornaments are attached.

I added some purchased pinecone decorations and a few small glass balls to lend color and variety to the arrangement. 

The toys and additional glass ball ornaments were added last. Long pins with pearl heads worked beautifully! I hooked them into the back side of the toys and then poked them into the wreath. 

In only one week, fall will officially arrive.  
May your last week of summer be wonderful!

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Toys!! Part 1

I worked almost exclusively on this one project this past week. My sewing room is a disaster, but I'm so excited that the wreath of little stuffed toys is absolutely finished!

There are fourteen stitched pieces in all. Two stars, two hearts, two tiny presents, a pair of mittens, a pair of candy canes, one gingerbread boy, one snowman, a stocking, and Rudolph.

The pattern for all the stuffed toys will come out next week, and I'll show you more about how I made this in next week's blog. 

This weekend I plan to enjoy our first couple of autumn-like days. For the first time since June I'll turn on the oven and bake up a couple of batches of goodies. We'll have zucchini bread, peach cobbler, and blueberry muffins by Sunday. Summer isn't completely gone, but my freezer will be full of homemade snacks and desserts. 

Have a beautiful weekend!!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Speed Skating


The ice skate pattern is finished!

One mug rug ...

... and one table topper - or wall hanging, if you prefer.  Wait! You might use only the center section from the table topper as a block in a different quilt, or on a pillow. As I quickly discovered, this is a multi-purpose pattern.

I was almost finished with the sewing on the table topper and mug rug versions of the design when I learned about Anna's need for a way to display her skating level badges. The timing couldn't have been better! If you read last week's blog post you may remember the story of how all of this came about.

What a delight it was to help Anna design her own background for those hard won badges! The child has a mind of her own. I pulled out tons of fabric options from my stash, but Anna was adamant. Bright colors. Pink skates! She chose the fabrics and she chose to have them made into a pillow. I personalized the pillow with letters from my "Alphabet Soup" pattern that spell Anna's name.  Look how bright and joyful this pillow turned out to be. Really bright! Anna loves it.

The pillow cover fits an 18" pillow form. It requires two 19" squares of fabric that are sewn together with 1/2" seams. I added a zipper closure, but that isn't really essential. 

My first choice would have been to place the zipper on the seam at the very bottom of the pillow, but as my fabric was a bit short, the back had to be made in two sections. As a result, the zipper is oddly placed - off center in the middle of the back. I don't think Anna minds that the back of her pillow is less than perfect. 

This excellent tutorial for making a zippered pillow cover is found on the blog, "My Tiny Sidekick". 

Now I need to get to work on the next project. I wish I could make up my mind! I still haven't figured out the pumpkin pattern, and I have an idea for a small basket with matching mug rugs.  I'm imagining something to use for afternoon coffee with friends. The mug rugs could be a bit oversized, but still not as large as a regular placemat, and the basket could hold muffins or cookies. Napkins, too, maybe? In country cottage colors? Red and white, perhaps?

Eenie meenie minie mo ....

Pumpkins, table setting, pumpkins, table setting...

Didn't I just go through this?

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!!
It's July!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

An Old Year Ends and a New Year Begins

Christmas is only a week off and my time is so full that I won't be able to complete one more sewing project in time for the big day. I still have Christmas cards to get out, a tree to set up, a couple of dozen sugar cookies to frost, Christmas brunch and dinner to plan, an entire house in desperate need of cleaning, and last minute gifts to purchase and wrap! I'm definitely done sewing until at least December 26th.

I hope that you are farther along than I am, but it's time to move on and think about the new year. What can you sew for January?

You might just start with my colorful, new "Celebrate" mug rug pattern that is ready just in time for New Year's Eve.

An Unplanned Mug Rug 

I truly hadn't planned on making this until I was cleaning up my sewing room and sorting some stray fabrics a few days ago. I spotted this piece of batik with splotches of bright colors on a black background. It had been a fat quarter, but it was now missing a 10 inch square making it about three quarters of a fat quarter. Not enough for anything large.

The colors reminded me of fireworks, and fireworks reminded me of New Year's Eve, and the idea exploded as a perfectly finished mug rug in my head. There was just enough fabric for a paper foundation pieced background and I had plenty of brightly colored scraps to add even more brightness. 

Other Winter Projects

If you are ready to start sewing soon after the holidays, you might choose other patterns suitable for January and February. Winter won't be for over awhile. In Nebraska it will just be getting into full swing! 

Here are just a few winter quilting ideas from my patterns.

I'll start with January. 

The upcoming year is filled with days worth celebrating. You don't have to stop with the New Year.

"Mitten Weather"
Heads and fingers can still get mighty cold.

"Winter Romance"
There's just something about snow that brings out romance, and around here the winter snow is only just beginning.

"January Chill"
Snow is also a invitation to play! 

"Snowball Fight"
After those hours spent in the cold, playing with snow or shoveling it from walks and drives, a cup of hot cocoa and a warm flannel quilt are just what a person needs. 

"Four Seasons"
And this little set of mug rugs fits every season, winter, spring, summer, and autumn.

And for February, the month of Valentine's Day and love -  

Here is an entire collection of hearts. 

"Hearts Afloat"


"February Valentines"


Wow! I didn't realize I had so many winter patterns!!

And, now I need to go to work. I just need to decide where to start!

Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Taking Care of Essentials with French Braid Oven Mitts

I won't be posting tutorials and sewing hints every week, but during this time right before Christmas I needed to stop and take care of some personal sewing. First came the shortening of some new pants. That's what happens when a person's legs are too long for petites, but too short for regular length.

The second new project was born of desperation and has turned into the pattern in this post. Every single one of my old oven mitts is fit only for the trash, and I have no choice but to replace them.

I am not about to spend good money on oven mitts when I have several drawers filled with fabric scraps. Did you know that some of those mitts cost over $100 each? What on earth are they made of? Not for me. In fact, I won't spend any money at all this time because I'm making my own oven mitts from materials I already have on hand.

Handmade oven mitts are not only a thrifty way to use scraps, but they can be great Christmas stocking replacements and cute, practical gift bags. Fill the mitt with the makings of something yummy or with other little goodies, slap on a bow, and watch the smiles grow. For several years I held December cookie exchange parties for my sewing group friends. One year I made oven mitts from holiday fabrics for every one of those friends. Then I hung the mitts across the fireplace mantle like stockings. They looked so pretty hanging there all in a row. The best part was that they were truly appreciated.

The mug rugs for the cookie exchange party were made from solid pieces of a single fabric. If I were in a hurry this year, I'd make my new ones in the same way. This time, though I was playing with an idea for quilt-as-you-go mitts so I could use up a few of those narrower fabric scraps taking up drawer space. I settled on a French braid design. It's actually a variation of a log cabin pattern. I'm very pleased with it, and it's super easy. That's a must for something that will be used to death in a year.

The Cutting Template

First things first - the pattern for the mitt, itself. You could buy a pattern, or you could use the pattern that comes with each package of Insul-Brite. If you do use the Insul-Brite pattern, be sure to add at least at least 1/2" beyond the marked stitching line for seam allowance. That pattern has terribly narrow seams that simply won't work when you are sewing through so many layers.

I much prefer drawing my own pattern to using something else. For one thing, I have rather short fingers, so many of the oven mitts found in stores are too large for me. If you have an old oven mitt that's a good fit, your pattern practically makes itself.

This is how I drew the template this time.

I first taped two pieces of cardstock together to make a sheet large enough for the outline of the mitt. Plain paper would also work, but I wanted something I could cut out and draw around easily and something that I could keep in a file for a long time.

Then I traced around an old mitt that is a really good fit.  I added 1/2" around the tracing to make a seam allowance and I drew the cutting line. As I sketched, I smoothed out those funny edges that old mitts acquire.

I cut the pattern out and traced around it on tissue paper. The tissue paper is so much easier to pin onto my quilted layers than anything else. It also has the advantage of being transparent which is important for this pattern. I made sure to mark the innermost point of the "v" where the thumb of the pattern meets the fingers section. If it isn't marked it's hard to know exactly how deep the stitching of that "v" should be.

Now that the pattern was ready, I could focus on making the quilted pieces.

Materials and cutting

Materials for each oven mitt:
  * Insul-Bright - 2 pieces 9 1/2" x 14"
   Cotton batting such as Warm and Natural - 2 pieces 9 1/2" x 14"
   Backing fabric - 2 pieces 9 1/2" x 14" (I used thin muslin.)
   From mixed scraps
     - one 7 1/2" square
     - one 8" square
     - one 9"  square
     -  sixteen strips, 1 1/2" x 7 1/2"
     -  one strip, 1 1/2" x 6 1/2" for the loop
     -  one strip, 1 3/4" x 15" - 16" for the binding  (The length of this strip may vary depending on the measurement around the top of the oven mitt. If you prefer, you could use double fold bias tape to finish the top of the mitt.)

*Note: Two layers of cotton batting can be used instead of a single layer of batting and a layer of Insul-Bright. This is the way I used to make all of my oven mitts. They are fine for most purposes, but the Insul-Bright does add extra insulation from heat.  

Stack the backing, Insul-Bright, and batting in that order to make two quilt sandwiches, one for either side of the oven mitt.

 The Insul-Bright is slippery, so I used just a light spritz of quilt basting spray to help keep things in place while sewing.

Cut out the fabrics. Cut each of the three squares in half diagonally to make half square triangles. 

Make the quilt as you go quilt sandwich for the oven mitt.

1. Lay the widest side of  a triangle cut from the 7 1/2" square right side up at the center top of the batting of the one of the two layered quilt sandwiches.  

2. Lay one of the 1 1/2" x 7 1/2" right sides together against either short side of the triangle. Line the edge of the strip up with the square angle of the triangle. Stitch along the length of the strip with a 1/4" seam

3. Fold the strip out and press. Lay another strip along the other side of the triangle right sides together. Again, line the end of the strip up with the corner of the triangle. Stitch, fold, and press as before.


5. Continue in this manner, alternating sides and stitching strips until there are four strips on either side of the quilt sandwich to complete the French braid effect.

6. Lay a short leg of a triangle from the 8" square as if it were another strip. Align the right angle of the triangle with the right angles created by the alternating strips. Stitch along this edge with a 1/4" seam.

My seams must not all have been exactly 1/4" because the strips were getting a little out of alignment. I made a minor adjustment with the triangle to line everything up again.
 7. Press this triangle out.

8. A triangle from the 9" square is sewn on last. Lay the bias edge of the triangle over the last strip and sew with a 1/4"seam.

9. Press this triangle out.

10. The quilt sandwich for one side of the oven mitt is finished. Make the sandwich for the other side of the mitt in exactly the same way.

Construction of the mitts

1. Use your oven mitt pattern to cut one side of the mug rug from one of the quilt sandwiches.  Flip the pattern over and cut the other side of the oven mitt from the second quilt sandwich.

2. Mark the dot for the "v" on the lining of both pieces of the oven mitt.

3. Place the two sections right sides together and pin from the outer wrist to the center of the finger section. Stitch around this portion of the mitt only. Sew with a 3/8" seam allowance. 

Half an inch seam allowance was added to the pattern, but you should sew with a slightly smaller seam allowance. When turned right side out some of that 1/2" seam allowance you drew on your template will be taken up by the sheer thickness of the layers of fabric, batting, and insulation.

4. Trim close to the seam from the top of the wrist to about 1" down. Reinforce that seam with a machine zigzag stitch. Here I go using my good old blanket stitch again. I do like the clean edge created by this stitch. 

5. Make the binding for the the top of the oven mitt.  Fold the oven mitt open and measure the top. Measure the top of the wrist. Cut the 1 3/4" wide strip about 1/2" longer than that measurement.   

Note: If you are going to use ready made seam binding, cut it about 1/2" longer than the distance across the top of the wrist and sew it in place. 

6. Press one edge of the binding strip over 1/4". 

7. Pin the right side of the raw edge of this strip to the wrong side of top of the oven mitt. 

The right side of the binding is facing the wrong side of the oven mitt. 

8. Sew with a 1/4" seam. Fold the binding over the front of the oven mitt and attach it to the right side of the mitt with a top stitch close to the edge of the binding.

9. Make the loop for hanging the oven mitt from the 1 1/2" x 6 1/2" strip of fabric. 

Top stitch close to the edge of the fold.

9. Fold the loop in half. Place it about an inch down from the wrist opening on the right side of one section of the thumb side of the mitt. Make sure the loop points up at an angle. Pin it in place and stay stitch it very close to the side edge of the raw seam.

10. Pin the two halves of the oven mitt together, taking care that all edges are lined up. Sew the rest of the way around the mitt. Reinforce the "v" with one or two extra rows of stitching.

 11. Trim the entire seam close to the stitching. Machine zigzag stitch over the seam.

12. With a sharp scissors, snip almost to the point of the "v". You will be cutting through some of the zig zag stitches, but be careful not to cut through the straight reinforced stitching.

13. Turn the mitt right side out, press smooth, and you are finished!

Wishing you a super week!