Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter Mini

Lately, I can't seem to get enough of all things miniature!  So with Easter right around the corner, I thought it was high time that I made an Easter mini.


I designed this simple little 6" project around the Easter egg buttons.  Aren't they darling?!



They're Just Another Button Company buttons, specifically the "small blue," "small pink," and "small lavender egg(s)."  I've had these buttons for a while now, waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them, and I'm thrilled with how they look tucked into a wool appliqué basket.

I thought about framing my project, but decided instead to layer it with batting and backing fabric, and to bind it with a wide binding that does double duty as an outer border.  I'm so happy I did, because I just love the look of the wide binding!  This is my first time using single fold binding as a wide binding and it turns out that it was super easy!  For the half-inch wide binding, I cut my fabric strip 2¼" wide.

To display my little project, I decided to attach a length of the gingham ribbon to the back of the mini so I can hang it wherever I like—preferably directly in front of me!  


Here's a link to the pattern for the Easter basket. And if you don't happen to have gorgeous Easter egg buttons in your stash yet, don't despair!  I think this project would also be cute with little wool eggs, maybe even embellished with a bit of embroidery.  Hmm... now my wheels are turning again!

Happy Easter and Happy Stitching!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tiny Houses

Last week my daughter was home on break from college and feeling crafty, so I taught her to paper piece.  It's my latest attempt to turn her into a quilter and I think it's working!

We made tiny houses, and I mean TINY, and my daughter handled the bits and pieces like a pro.

Here's my house pre-embellishment:


The colors for my little house were inspired by this beautiful house in Providence:

 

I just love this house.  Definitely going to have a yellow house someday!


Here's my daughter's house:


This color palette is so her.  She loves Halloween and all things spooky.  I never would have thought of making the sky black and the grass burgundy, but I just love it!

After we paper pieced our tiny houses, we embellished them with a bit of simple stitching and popped them into 3" frames.

Here's my finished house with window boxes, flowers, and a few seagulls—in my mind this house is on the coast, hence the seagulls.


And here's my daughter's finished house, complete with a scary tree, moon, stars and a ghost peeking out of an upstairs window.


Even the Gothic frame that she chose screams of my daughter's personality—very Haunted Mansion!

Here are the two finished houses together:


I find it amazing that, in the hands of two quilters, one little pattern can result in two very different, but equally charming quilts!  I'm also struck by what a difference a little embellishment can make.  The original houses were sweet, but the little stitched details took them to an entirely different level—food for thought!


If you'd like to try your hand at some very tiny paper piecing, here's a link to the pattern that I drafted.  


You may have noticed that the above pieces don't really look like they'll fit together into a square block.  Here's how to make it work:
  1. After you piece all of the units, stitch together units E and D (these are the two sections of the first floor of the house) 
  2. Stitch unit C to the top of the E/D unit
  3. Join a 3/4" x 1 3/4" strip of background fabric to either side of the C/E/D unit
  4. Stitch unit B to the top of the above unit.
  5. Join a 1 1/4" x 2 3/8" strip of background fabric to either side of the above unit.
  6. Stitch unit A to the top of the above unit.
  7. Finally, join a 1 1/4" x 4 1/8" grass fabric strip to the bottom of the above unit.

Your pieced tiny house block should measure 4 1/8" (unfinished).  The excess background fabric around the house will give you enough leeway to wrap the block around the piece of glass that comes with a 3" frame before you reinsert it into the frame.

But before you frame your tiny house, don't forget to embellish it with some tiny stitching! 

Happy tiny quilting!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bloom Where You Are Planted

We're supposed to have a snowstorm here in New Hampshire tomorrow, and with a potential accumulation of 14-18 inches of snow, I can't think of a better time for a little spring stitching!!



These wooden buttons were the inspiration for this sweet project:


I saw them online when I was ordering some homespun fabric from Jubilee Fabric (jubileefabric.com) and I couldn't resist.  They're tiny—only 3/8"—but perfect for scattering across a background.


Back to the project!  First off, you can find the pattern for this little stitchery here.  The finished project measures about 5" square, but start with a larger background square (8" or so) so you can comfortably use an embroidery hoop.  You can trim the background square later if you like.

After tracing the pattern onto the background square using a light box and a water-soluble marking pen, I used size 8 perle cotton and a wrapped backstitch to stitch the "Bloom" and the big flower stem.  For the rest of the lettering and the little flower stems, I used two strands of embroidery floss and a backstitch—lazy daisies for the little flower leaves.  I appliquéd the felted wool flower and leaves using a single strand of embroidery floss and a whipstitch.  And finally, I used six strands of floss to stitch down the little buttons, making an "x" pattern in their centers.

I went back and forth about how to finish this project.  I thought about making it a little quilt with a loop that could be hung on a door knob or hook, kind of like this project that I made last November :

Give Thanks Mini Quilt

I also thought about adding a patchwork border and finishing it as a small pillow, but ultimately I decided to frame it.  To do so, I layered it with a thin piece of batting (flannel would also work), wrapped it around the glass that came with the frame, and inserted it into the frame.  Fast and finished!!


Happy Stitching!!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How To: Orange Peels

Last month I posted about a mini orange peel quilt that I was making just for fun.  Here's a look at how it turned out!



I love everything about this little quilt—the saturated colors, the graphic design, even the simple machine quilting.  I'm not sure why I waited to so long to give the orange peel a try, but I'm glad I finally did!  Along the way, I picked up a few tricks for making smooth edges and fairly sharp points that I'd like to share with you today.


Here's my method for making orange peels:

1.  Start by adhering two sheets of freezer paper together by lightly pressing one atop the other with a medium hot iron, making sure that the matte side of both sheets of paper is up and the shiny side down. (This step results in thicker templates)

2.  Next, trace the orange peel shapes onto the matte side (not shiny) of the double layer of freezer paper and cut out each shape (through both layers) along the drawn lines.  Lightly press a freezer paper shape to the wrong side of your fabric with the shiny side of the freezer paper down.



3.  Cut out fabric shape being sure to leave a ¼" allowance around the outside edges of the freezer paper template and trim the pointed ends as pictured below.  Pull the freezer paper template off and use a fabric glue stick on the matte side of the freezer paper to lightly glue the template back to the center of the fabric shape.  At this point, the shiny side of the paper should be facing up away from the fabric.



4.  Using the tip of a medium hot iron, press the ¼" fabric allowance to the freezer paper template as indicated below.  Pay particular attention to how the fabric overlaps at the ends of the orange peel shape.  Don't worry about the little dog ears that hang over the shape at this point.  By taking care to overlap as follows, you'll be able to neatly tuck them in when you're appliquéing.  If you're left handed, you should overlap your points in the opposite direction.



5.  Finger press your background fabric square lightly on the diagonal to help with the placement of the orange peel shape.  Align the center of the orange peel shape with the pressed diagonal line of the background fabric and pin shape in place.  (Note:  To help make sure your finished appliqués are centered, cut your background fabric squares a little bigger than necessary and then trim them to size after appliquéing.)

Begin stitching along the lower right side of the shape and appliqué up to the point of the shape.  Once you've stitched the point to the background fabric, gently fold and tuck in the dog ear under the fabric shape and up against the stitching already in place.  Then continue appliquéing the remainder of the shape, stitching around the second point in the same manner.



6.  After you've finished appliquéing your orange peel to the fabric background, use sharp scissors to cut a small slit in the background fabric behind the orange peel shape and gently loosen and remove the freezer paper template from your work.  Press your appliqué from the wrong side and trim the block, making sure the orange peel is centered in all directions.




And that's it!  Perfect-ish orange peels!

Now that I've tackled my first orange peel project, I can't wait to give it a try again.  If you'd like to make your own little quilt, here's a link to the orange peel template I used for 2" finished blocks.

Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hearts and Tarts

Happy February!

This morning I flipped over the calendar page and ta-da!



It's my Hearts and Tarts table runner and it's the February quilt in the Better Homes and Gardens American Patchwork & Quilting 2017 Calendar.  



This beautiful calendar, available online at The Meredith Store, features 12 gorgeous quilts, complete with full project instructions and even suggestions for alternate colors and sizes.  

My Hearts and Tarts table runner is simplicity itself.  I paper pieced the heart blocks with a variety of pink solids and used candy pink perle cotton to big stitch quilt in the sashing and borders.  This quilt is soft and pretty—perfect for Valentine's Day!



Here's a close-up of the big stitch quilting:



And here's the little quilt I made to test the idea for Hearts and Tarts.  The blocks in this little cutie are 3" square.



And because I can't get enough of these sweet hearts, here's a fun little project that you can make with a single block.  It's a 4½" square pillow that you can use as a pin cushion or embroider with a message and give as a valentine.



If you'd like to make your own little heart pillow, you'll need to print a foundation pattern for the 3" heart block (find the pdf here).  You'll also need some scraps of pink and white solid fabrics.  

From the pink solid, cut:
1 rectangle, 1¾" x 2½" (area A1)
1 rectangle, 2¼" x 3¼" (area A4)
1 square, 5" x 5" (pillow back)

From the white solid, cut:
1 square, 2" x 2" (area A2)
1 square 2½" x 2½" cut once diagonally to yield 2 triangles (areas A3 and A5)
1 square 3" x 3" cut once diagonally to yield 2 triangles (areas A6 and A7)
2 strips 1¼" x 3½" (side borders)
2 strips 1¼" x 5" (top and bottom borders)

Putting this little pillow together is very easy.  Once you've got the block made, stitch a white 1¼" x 3½" strip to either side of the block, pressing seams towards the white strips.  Then stitch a white 1¼" x 5" strip to the top and bottom of the block, again pressing seams towards the white strips.

Layer your pillow top with a small piece of batting and then embellish it as desired. I embroidered the "Be Mine" and "XOXO" using a backstitch and two strands of embroidery floss.  Then I used perle cotton to big stitch quilt in the border ¼" around the outside of the block.  The layer of batting will give the stitching a bit of dimension and will help keep the front of your pillow smooth when you stuff it.

Once your pillow top is embellished/quilted, layer the pillow back atop the pillow top with right sides together.  Stitch on all sides using a ¼" seam allowance, but leave a little space unsewn at the bottom of the pillow for turning.  Press the seam to set it, clip your corners, and turn the pillow right side out.  Stuff the pillow gently using fiberfill and blindstitch the opening closed.  And that's it!  


Before I go, here's another example of the gorgeous photography that you'll find in the APQ 2017 Calendar.  December features my Winter Wraps lap quilt in the most charming scene—I just love this picture!


Happy Quilting!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just for Fun

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of teaching a beginner's log cabin class at the Upper Valley Food Co-op's Sew-op.  The women I was teaching were all friends and we had a great time chatting and sewing (ok, mostly chatting!).  At one point during the class, one of the women asked me if I still quilt for fun or if it's just for work and while I answered that quilting is always a joy for me, I realized that it's been too long since I made a project just for fun and just for me.

The solution:  a mini orange peel quilt!  I've always wanted to make an orange peel quilt and I love all things miniature, so I'm going to combine the two and make it with fabrics leftover from my log cabin class.

After a couple of nights of prepping leaf appliqués, here's what I've got:



Aren't the colors gorgeous?! I just love these batiks!

Each finished leaf block is going to be 2" square.  My mom will think I'm crazy, but I can't help myself; I LOVE small blocks.  Not sure what I'm going to do for a border yet, but hey, there are no rules here!  This is just for fun — appliqué here I come! 

I'll keep you posted...