Monday, April 25, 2016

Quick and Easy Baby Gift (FAL #1)

My favorite go-to hand made baby gift recently has been a flannel receiving blanket.  They are quick, easy, inexpensive to make, cute and practical.  A can't lose gift!

I have had fabric ready for a blanket for my niece's new little girl for a while.  Actually, I had planned to gift the blanket at her baby shower last month, but it didn't get done.  There's really no excuse for that, though, because honestly, this is a project that can be completed in about an hour.

There's a tutorial out there in blog land which is very close to the process I use to make these, that calls it a 10-minute blanket.  I must be slow, because as quick as these are, I've never made one in 10 minutes.  Getting my two pieces of flannel to lie nicely together with no wrinkles takes me longer than that!

I also add a few details that aren't included in the version I linked to, above.

 I round my corners (using a bowl or plate as a template)
and that necessitates clipping which adds a whopping
thirty seconds right there!

I also add a few  of these little zig zag "bar tacks" through out the middle of the blanket.  It might not be completely necessary, but I feel like it helps the blanket maintain its shape in the wash, and not come out looking like a twisted mass of wet flannel sewn together at the edges.

And, I always add some sort of decorative stitch around the edge.  It just adds such a nice touch.

Flannel can be found in so many cute prints that its easy to make these blankets to match nursery or shower themes.  I use two one-yard cuts of flannel, which I almost always buy on sale, so they are also really economical to make and give. And because they are so quick, they are perfect for a lot of baby related situations.

For example, I once made a boy version AND a girl version and took them both to a gender reveal party. The mom-to-be got to keep the one that matched the inside of the cupcakes she was using to let us know what she was having.  I might have come up with that idea on the afternoon of the party while at WalMart shopping for ingredients for a pasta salad to take to the party.  I also might have cruised through the fabric department to pick up 4 yards in appropriate colors and a spool of ribbon that coordinated with both.  And, it's entirely possible that I also might have made my teenage daughter make the pasta salad while I whipped up the blankets!

I hope that the moms I've given these to find them to be useful.   They are a nice size,  perfect for swaddling,  and the double flannel makes them feel so much more substantial than the receiving blankets that come three or four in a pack at the store. I love it when I catch glimpses of my blankets being used and loved by babies in Facebook photos.  Makes me so happy!

This was one of my Quarter 2 FAL projects, and, yaaay! It's done!

Linking this up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts and Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

First Stitches

    This kiddo sewed on the machine for the first time!  

On the nights that her dad takes her to karate and her sister doesn't need to be anywhere, I try to hurry through the dishes and dinner clean up so I can spend some time in the sewing room. When she gets home, she knows where to find me, and comes upstairs right away.  Of course I'm always happy to see her and hear her karate stories.  But, I will admit, sometimes I get a bit grumpy at the intrusion into my space and time.  This might have been one of those nights.

She has a way of picking up, and inspecting every item on my table, and nothing ever gets put back where it belongs.  Feeling crowded and suddenly disorganized, and realizing that my goal for the night was not going to be met,  I could have shooed her away when she asked about my leader/ender that was under my presser foot.   But I explained its purpose, and she asked if she could sew it the rest of the way.  Somehow, I stifled a sigh and said, "sure."  

But then she decided she was too scared to sew on my fabric and began to dig in the felt bucket, instead.   She used my "big scissors" to cut some rectangles, and then, of course, we had to change the thread in the machine to something that "matched better".  

She is an avid art-maker and crafter and has hand sewn many many times. So she has a good sense of how things go together and what works or doesn't .   But, unlike her sister, she's never asked to, or shown an interest in using the machine before.  After some quick instructions, she was off and running!  I was pretty impressed with how she handled the machine.  She knew, from watching me sew, to drop the needle by turning the hand wheel and to start out slow.  She had good control and sewed very straight seams!   So much fun to see her try!  

 I might be in trouble, though, because as she headed out the sewing room door  she informed me "It's not done yet!" And she's already asked about the "fancy stitches" on the machine.

I have no doubt that if she decides to take up sewing she will excell at it.  This girl does everything in a big way.  In fact, at age 10, she is just one week away from testing for her black belt.  She begged for karate classes when she was 6, and has never missed a class or complained about going.  She practices at home and takes on leadership roles within the karate school.  It's amazing how much she has grown in her confidence and self discipline.  And her kicks are amazing  I can't wait to watch her earn that belt! 

Sometimes I lose a bit of sewing time to her questions and stories, her explorations and "Can we play a game before bed?"   But its all worth it.  And, I might just have another sewing partner in the house!!

And, because she's awfully darn cute...

I'm linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Emma's Owls

There will soon be a new baby in my family!   My niece is having a baby girl this month,  making me a great aunt (uuugh)  for the third time. I really dislike that term.  Makes me feel really old.    Great  Awesome Aunt sounds better to me.   I've even put that in writing (on a quilt label)!

I'm happy to say I've finished a quilt for our new sweetie!

 The baby shower had an owl theme, and the new mom has made lots of owl decorations for the baby's room.  So, some owl fabric had to be found for the quilt.  Brown and pink were the mom-to-be's request, and they look so cute together.  The owls are grey, and I usually don't like gray and brown together, but I think this works.

I think it makes a sweet welcome gift for baby Emma. 
A look at the back, courtesy of the wind.  Whoops.  Should've cut off the orange yarn I used to hang the quilt and then moved my scissors.  Heehee.

This little quilt went together very quickly.  The small size, simple design and large blocks certainly helped with that.   Even the quilting and binding seemed to take less time than I was anticipating.  I had planned to just quilt in the ditch along each seam, but then changed my mind.  Eyeballing the diagonal lines created by the design was quick a/nd turned out really well.  And, as a pleasant surprise, I got the "joining the binding ends together" part right on the first try!  Whoo hoo!

The actual making time of this quilt may have been quick, but it is part of a special tradition.  My mom was a quilter, and taught me to quilt.  When her grandchildren started arriving, 26 years ago, she made baby quilts for each of them.  All the quilts were the same design, but were made with different fabrics.   My youngest daughter received the last one, 10 and a half years ago.  At that time, my mom was just starting to have a lot of health issues, most related to diabetes.  She was having trouble seeing, had some sores in her feet that made getting around difficult and was having some trouble making her hands do what she wanted them to do.  She finished Emily's quilt, though, with some help from her oldest grand daughter,  who was 16 at the time.  I love that - the oldest making a quilt for the youngest.

Emma will be my mom's second great grandchild.  She isn't able to quilt anymore, and hasn't, since she made Emily's quilt.  That make us both very sad.  I would absolutely love to share sewing days with her, swap blocks and raid each others stashes.  I have hope that I will be able to do that with my own daughters, some day.

I have decided that the tradition of Grandma's quilts will live on. I will make a quilt for each of my mom's great-grandchildren, in the same pattern as the quilts she made for her grandchildren.  Colors and fabrics will change, just as in the original 6 quilts.  

I made the blocks in Emma's quilt a bit larger than the ones in my daughter's quilts.  I wanted to be sure that the owls weren't too chopped, and I really didn't feel like fussy cutting to be sure I had whole owls.  My mom hand-quilted.  I'm not sure she ever machine quilted anything.  Baby quilt, table runner, wall hanging, bed quilt...didn't matter, she spread  it out over her dining room table and quilted in the morning, when the light was best.  I am not much of a hand quilter.  I find it extremely relaxing and rewarding, but I just do not have the time.   

Even with a few differences, it's pretty clear that these quilts belong together.  It makes me really happy to see them hung together like this.


My mom embroidered each child's name on their quilt, but didn't include a year or a label.  I thought about adding those, but decided to stick with what she did originally.
I think my niece must have done the stitching of Emily's name.  Makes my heart smile!
I had a lot of fun taking these outdoor photos.  To the great embarrassment of my pre-teen, I lugged the quilts, camera and a bag of stuff I thought I might need around the yard, the cul de sac and (gasp!) even out of the subdivision!  "Mom!  What are you doing?! You are a crazy person!  People will see you hanging quilts in trees!!!"

That's ok.  I know my neighbors, and I am fairly certain that there are much more dangerous forms of crazy living in our neighborhood.  And, if the neighbors wondered if  I was crazy, then seeing the  lunatic grin on my face as I hung these beauties up (seriously, SO MUCH FUN) surely convinced them.  I'm OK with that!

Come on, baby Emma!  We want to meet you, and your quilt is ready!

I'm linking up here this week:
Michelle's Let's make baby quilts
Monday Making at Love, Laugh, Quilt
Fabric Tuesday on Quilt Story
Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts
Let's Bee Social at Sew. Fresh Quilts
My Quilt Infatuation's Needle and Thread Thursday
Crazy Mom Quilts Finished Friday

Be sure to stop by and check out all the lovely links! 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Quarter 2 FAL Goals

I have decided to join the Finish Along Link up hosted at A Quilter's Table, and 8 other places around the Internet.  They have just opened the link up for the second quarter of the year.  This is my first time joining in.    So many quilty bloggers seem to be keeping themselves on track each quarter,  and having fun,  that I thought I'd give it a try!

So,  here are the things I want to finish by July 7.

1.  T-SHIRT QUILT. This will be a new experience for me,  but I'm looking forward to it.   It's for a friend's daughter,  but my own girls have plenty of t-shirts, so I figure I should start perfecting the process now.   And if it goes well,  I have two more people interested.  Needs to be done by July 25, so perfect for the FAL.
A very small sampling of the graduate's many show t- shirts.

2. LEADER AND ENDER HST QUILT  This was the first time I used a charm pack,  and the first time I tried used the leader/ender method.  I loved it!   The colors are going to be perfect in our living room. I'm looking forward to getting rid of some of the assorted fleece blankets that congregate there and finally replacing them with a quilt.   I need to press,  trim and decide on a layout.   Should be fun!

These big HST's have been waiting forever to be pressed,  trimmed and pieced into a top. 
3. LITTLE LETTERS IN DOTS. If all goes well,  these little cuties will be my county fair entry this year.   They make me so happy. Can't wait to see them as a completed top.   I haven't decided how to set them,  yet.   Should I use the same Irish chain setting I used on AJ's quilt or try something new? Hmmmm.
These were a lot of fun to piece. What a happy little quilt it's going to be!

4. 241 BAG. I have wanted a new purse/tote for myself for the longest time.  I really just need to bite the bullet and make the first cut.  Well,  choosing a weight of interfacing would be good too..
What am I so afraid of???
5. FLANNEL RECEIVING BLANKET. I feel a little guilty even putting this on the list. At most,  it's a 90 minute project.  I just need to sit down and get to it, some day.   But,  baby has not been born yet,  so I keep putting it off.   It's so simple that it seems out of place among my other projects,  but,  I just read somewhere that every list should have one item that can be completed and crossed off quickly to give a immediate sense of accomplishment. this is it!
Cute, and quick! 

  Also on my list for this quarter but not part of the FAL:  shortening those darn pants and working on round robin quilts (border #1 & 3 on my pen pal's quilt, and border # 2 on mine after I get it back from her.)

This seems like a lot!   I know my typical pace,  and I know how life has a way of messing with my to do lists.  I'm sure I'll be rolling some of these over to next quarter,  but I am hoping that the FAL motivates me to keep moving all of these things toward the finish line!

I am linking up with the FAL at A Quilter's Table, and I'm very excited about that!!!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

New Fabric!

New fabric!  Isn't that one of the best phrases in the English language?  I'm not much of a stash builder.  I try hard not to buy fabric as my mom did when I was growing up.  She very often bought a yard or two "just to have it."  Those words are ingrained in my brain, and there was a time, in my teens when I found her habit annoying and senseless (which was probably the case for most of what she did).  For this reason, probably, I try to avoid purchasing fabric that I don't have an immediate need for.

I try to buy for a purpose, and stash the left overs.  But sometimes things happen.   It's been happening a lot, these last few weeks, and I LOVE it!

Such pretty packaging from BrewStitched.  And it arrived so quickly!

I was thrilled, last week, to win a give away offered by Bernie of Needle and Foot.  I won a selection of fat quarters provided by Sheryl of BrewStitched!  I enter  giveaways from time to time, but have never won, and let me tell you, it made my week!  So fun, and what a treat to receive some lovely fabrics in the mail.
These are the four provided by Sheryl.  Aren't they pretty?
As soon as I heard that I won, I popped over to BrewStitched to say thanks, and couldn't resist being a few treats for myself.  Cheryl was able to send all of my new lovelies together.  They came beautifully packaged and she processed my order really, really quickly!  Like, almost immediately!

I need to work on fabric photo shoots...
I am really excited about the Art Gallery print on the bottom.  Aqua and navy is one of my favorite color combinations, lately.  The selvage says, "Feel the difference," and, BOY! can you ever!  So soft and rich feeling.  I don't have any firm plans for any of these, and that's kind of exciting. So many possibilities

The cream with gold metallic pattern (second from the top) was a recent on-line purchase with a plan. It's secret sewing so I'm not going to reveal the plan, yet.  The others in this stack were either discovered during the quest to find and purchase that fabric, or ordered WITH that fabric to qualify for free shipping.  You do that, too, right?  Isn't it better to pay for more fabric to use, than to pay more to be sent less fabric?  That's logical, right?

I really like this.  It just makes me happy.  I think it works on its own in large pieces or cut up as a low volume.

And when you can achieve free shipping with something this cute, well, why not?  I have a graduation quilt on a very near future to do list.  This will find its happy place there.

Oh, it's fun to build a stash. "Just to have it!"

Linking up this week with Sew Cute Tuesday.