Thursday, May 15, 2014

The GIANT Plaid Quilt

This quilt was commissioned by my boss for his mother.  It is made of his father's flannel shirts and will be a gift for his mother. This quilt is quite large, 80x96"(I think it's the largest I've quilted on my machine). The top is 10" squares (the shirts were HUGE! 3XL) set on point with red sashing.  It is backed with navy fleece to be extra cuddly, with a stripe of plaid squares pieced into it. I quilted it sparingly so the pockets would still be open, and went with straight lines either side of the lattice sashing to keep the masculine feel and to create a plaid-type design on the backing fleece. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hawaiian Applique

Hawaiian applique is usually made with just two fabrics, one appliqued on top of the other, with a circular repeating pattern. Usually the patterns are organic, representing leaves, flowers, or animals. I decided to try my own updated version of Hawaiian Applique with a completely rigid and geometric pattern. I needle-turn appliqued the design onto the background fabric and then simply echo quilted it. The quilt is quite small, only 24" square.

 I decided to do simple echo quilting because I wanted emphasize the shape of the applique. Once again, I like the back as much as the front!

Here's a detail view of the front. It doesn't really match my decor, but it has a new home above my bed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hexagon Stripes Quilt

I recently finished what is probably my new favorite quilt. It's nearly twin sized, with a navy blue minky back. This is the first blue quilt I've made, which is surprising as blue has been my favorite color for at least the past 25 years. There were a lot of firsts in this quilt; it was my first experience with English Paper Piecing, the first time attempting hand applique (which it turns out I LOVE, look for more hand applique to come!) my first time quilting anything larger than a throw, the first time I used 505 spray baste, my first minky back, and my first time using silicone to reduce friction on my SewSteady table (minky is fuzzy and likes to stick, I used a dimethicone gel because I already had it, but many quilters recommend Sprayway 946 silicone spray).

The blue hexagons are cut from shirts that belonged to my grandfather. The red, grays, and whites are scraps from other projects, and the red silk with the three-legged-llama-dogs are from a tie that my brother got as a gift. The hexagons were thread basted to paper patterns, then whip stitched together into the stripes, thread basted to the gray fabric (a brushed cotton bed sheet from Target) then appliqued. I then spray basted the top, batting (my usual Warm and White) and minky, rolled it up and started quilting. The quilting on this one was kinda crazy, the echoes are a 1" zigzag, which means quilt an inch, stop, lift, pivot, repeat. I marked the peaks and valleys of the hexagons before quilting, which made it easy to eyeball the distance from the previous row of stitches.

Binding the minky made me nervous, so I ran it through my serger after I squared it up. I auditioned a few bindings, and wasn't really happy with any of them, so I asked my sister. Katie suggested red, so I went digging in the stash (it's in milk crates under the bed) and found this red solid. I don't know what it is, but it was the perfect color for this project.

It is by far the cuddliest quilt I've ever made. Something about the minky makes it drape so wonderfully. Any other quilt I've made with this much quilting has been so much stiffer than this. In the week since it's been done I think I've found Katie snuggled with it almost every day, unless I get to it first!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

First Finish of 2014

Last Saturday, my sister and I went to Target and saw all the Valentine's Day decorations. I immediately wanted to make a pink sparkly quilt, so I went home and made one. I used fabric from Tailored by Annette Tatum mixed with several pink and aqua bits I had under the bed.

I backed it with pink penguin flannel and quilted it with hearts and wavy lines. It's fun and cozy.

I stopped at the library to take pictures of the quilt yesterday and finally got pictures of my Christmas quilt and Katie's 12 Days quilt.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sunnyside Cookies

Yesterday was my sister's birthday so I had to send cookies! (of course). She and I are both fans of fabric designer Kate Spain, especially Sunnyside (and all the Christmas collections!). She sent me Sunnyside fabric for Christmas, so I made matching cookies for her birthday.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Quilts

If you just looked at the blog, you might think I didn't finish many quilts this year, but you would be wrong. Turns out I wasn't good a documenting quilts as I finished them. Here are a few, there are a couple more I don't have pictures of yet, but that's a goal for the new year: document my quilts (also, put labels on the backs)

The next quilt I started was made using this pattern by Camille Roskelley. The quilt isn't finished (a project for 2014!) mostly because it's massive. The matching pillows are finished with straight line and pebble quilting. I decided to try free-motion quilting last year, and will continue to work on that this year. So far these pebbles are the only project I've free-motion quilted.

There are two of the 14" Lucky Pillows with straight-line quilting

but only one 16" Lucky pillow with pebble quilting
 My next project was a Christmas quilt for my sister. I might have to call 2013 the year of the Christmas Quilt, since I finished three and started two more!

Katie's Christmas quilt featured a panel from an older Kate Spain Christmas collection. The majority of the blocks were a paper-pieced block called Arabic Lattice. This was a really fun block to piece. To make the quilt easier on the eyes I put borders on all the blocks. The back is the red floral print and is bound with a white-on-white swiss dot.
This is the blocks laid out to assemble the top

Next I finished a project I'd started a few years ago, one of the first quilts I started, and the only one to sit in pieces in a box while I worked on other quilts. The original blocks were poorly done, with uneven seams, poorly sewn bias seams, etc. It was overly ambitious for my skill level at the time, but with a lot more practice and even more study I decided it was time to take them out of the box and have another look. I ended up cutting them into triangles and re-assembling them. One I put the new blocks together I liked it.

I quilted with diagonal lines of various widths.

It moved to my mother's house at Christmas, and her furry friends seem to like it alright.

My next quilt finish is not my usual style (very little white!) but is a very happy quilt. The fabrics are Riley Blake and were provided to me by the Modern Quilt Guild for the MQG Riley Blake Challenge. The challenge rules allowed the addition of more Riley Blake prints or solids from any source. I added a second fat eighth of each of the challenge prints as well as Kona White and Michael Miller Orange. I backed the quilt with really fun fabric from Technicolor by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller (not challenge approved, but I went looking for fabric for the back and sashing after I had cut the tumblers, so I couldn't not pick it! 

I quilted it with circles I traced from dishes and candles. I stitched over the lines using my walking foot. It's the happiest quilt and I think it might be my most favorite quilt ever (so far) I finished it Thanksgiving weekend.

As soon as the happy quilt was done I pulled out some red and white fabrics I'd had for a while to make another Christmas quilt. I don't have pictures of it, but I did finish matching pillows as well. It's a standard star block made with squares and half-square triangles. 

I finished it about a week before I left for California for Christmas with my family.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Make a Sock Monkey Without a Sewing Machine

You will need:
  • A pair of socks, any size. The bigger the socks, the bigger the monkey. See below for tips for choosing socks to monkey-fy.
  • Sewing needles, the size or type doesn't really matter, as long as they're fairly thin (no darning or upholstery needles)
  • Thread, in a color that matches your monkey, or if you're really good at invisible sewing, any color at all, as well as a color for the mouth (I pretty much use white for all the monkeys, but I'm pretty good at invisible sewing)
  • Sharp scissors, for cutting thread and socks. 
  • Fluff. Also known as fiberfill or polyfill. This is usually sold in one pound bags, which is enough for approximately 1700 monkeys (or at least a dozen, this depends on the size sock you use)
  • Buttons for eyes. Quick tip: red, white, and yellow make creepy eyes, so choose accordingly (maybe you want a creepy monkey for Halloween?)
Optional tools I like when I hand sew:
  • A needle threader. This nifty one by clover is like a needle threading ninja. I can't figure out how it works, but it does
  • Thread conditioner. Thread Heaven will help your thread glide through the sock more easily and reduces tangles. 
  • A thimble. Socks are pretty easy to sew, but sewing with a thimble is a habit for me. I use this one, but in a small size
Tips for Choosing Socks:

  •  Crew style works best, ankle socks aren't great and knee socks can be used but make monkeys with super long arms, unless you cut the sock down to crew length)
  • A sock with a different colored heel makes a more fun monkey, since a heel becomes a nose/mouth. You could even get two pairs and swap heels for the monkeys!
  • Remember that sock patterns usually are right side up when you wear them, but will be upside-down as a monkey, for example, a pair of socks covered in hearts might be really cute on your feet, but look silly upside-down as a monkey. Try to pick patterns that are the same either way (stripes, argyle, spots) or that have multi-directional objects, unless you want upside down ghosts, or hearts, or chickens, on your monkey.


Turn one sock inside-out. Lay it flat on the table with it's butt (heel) up in the air.

With your sharp scissors cut up the middle of the sock from the cuff to close to the heel. 

 Then thread your needle and put a large knot at one end of the thread. I didn't take a picture of this, since you can't do it with one hand. Usually when you sew you want a smallish knot, but socks need a bigger knot to stop the thread. Sometimes a big knot still goes straight through, so here's what I do: Pull your needle through the fabric so the knot is on the back. Don't pull too hard, you don't want the knot to come through! Then loop the needle back over the edge and bring it through the fabric again in the same spot (or at least close) to where you started with the knot. This should anchor your thread.

This is where I do things differently. Start with one cuff end and, do your loop and knot, then take small running stitches go up one leg

across the crotch, then down the other leg.

When you get to the end of the second leg, tie a knot. I do this by making a small stitch, then pull the thread almost all the way through, but not quite, you need a loop of thread. Put your needle through the thread loop and wrap the needle with the thread making the loop a few times. Then gently pull the needle and remaining thread through the loop. I'm lazy and don't like re-knotting my thread, so I usually leave the thread attached to the foot for the next part. 

Turn your monkey body right side out through one of the feet, you'll have to reach in and pull the other leg free, but it will work. Once you're done it will look a bit like a dead frog.

Stuff your monkey with fluff, enough to hold its shape, but not so much it bulges. If it looks a bit lumpy (it will at some point) hold the monkey between your palms and roll it like you're making a playdough snake. You can also use a chopstick to help with the stuffing. Use the wider end of the stick to pack the fluff in and the narrow end to fluff it out a bit if it's been packed too densely. To help it sit up, fold the monkey in half so its butt is in the air and squeeze to make its butt round and full. 

The next step is to sew the feet shut. You have two choices here, leave the cuff end or fold it inside, unless you've used a cut-off knee sock, then you'll have to fold the ends inside. I decided to tuck the cuff inside on this monkey because I liked how it looked with this sock pattern. If you left the thread attached to the leg before you turned it right-side out, just use this thread to sew up the foot. 

If you haven't (also for the second foot) thread your needle and put a large knot in the end. Anchor your thread with a loop inside the leg. I've tried to show pictures of how I sew invisibly (my cousin called it the Wiggle Stitch when we were sewing monkeys a couple of weeks ago) but it's difficult with only two hands.

The trick to making it invisible is to never let the thread be outside the sock, I attach the bits folded inside to each other. Because socks are knit, this is easier to do with sock monkeys than with anything else I've tried to sew invisibly (mostly pillows) It's a wiggle stitch because when I sew it looks like I'm just wiggling the needle back and forth from one side of the foot to the other (I kind of am, but catching fabric on the needle with each wiggle)

When you get to the other end, push the needle back into the foot and come out somewhere near the middle. Make a knot.

To hide the knot, put your needle through the knot and out somewhere in the leg, it doesn't really matter where. Pull the thread taut and trim. The end of the thread should disappear into the leg.

Lay your second sock flat and cut where I've indicated. You could draw the lines before you cut, or just guess. First cut around the heel, this will be the nose/mouth. Second cut from the cuff to past the curve to the foot, tapering at the end. This will be the tail. Third cut along the line from the heel to the tail, then along fold to separate the rest of the leg portion of the sock into two rectangles. These will be the legs.

From the foot of the sock cut two rectangles 

(for this one I cut on the line then on the folds to make two pieces) 

 Fold the rectangles in half the round the edge away from the fold. These will be the ears.

Fold all the pieces in half, right sides together. Pin them along the open edges. This will make them easier to sew.

To sew the tail, anchor the knot at the small end, and with small running stitches sew along the open edge. When you get to the end, make a loop to secure the stitches so they don't come undone when you turn the tail right-side out. If you want to be lazy you can leave the thread attached to use for sewing the tail shut and then to the body.

Hold the tail so the seam is centered on the bottom and sew the tail shut. Depending on how big the tail is you might want to stuff it. A chopstick is useful for this.

Hold the tail against the butt of the monkey with the end pointing to the monkeys tail.

With small whipstitches attach the top (non seam) side of the tail to the body.

Hold the tail straight out and sew the seam side of the tail to the monkey's bum. Once it feels securely attached tie a knot, and hide it like you did with the feet.

Now is the time to decide if you want a neck. I make a neck on larger socks, small children's socks aren't usually big enough for a neck. To start a neck anchor a knot on the side of the body. 

Wrap the thread around the body several times, pulling tight to separate the head from the body. When it feels secure tie a knot and hid it like with the feet and tail.

To make the arms sew the cuff end shut first, then sew down the long open side. Anchor the stitching at the end. Turn right-side out and stuff.

Turn the edges of the end of the arm in and do the wiggle-stitch to close it. 

Attach the arm the same way we attached the tail, just below the shoulder area. Repeat for the other arm. Make sure the seams are on the bottom so they don't show.

For the ears, fold them right sides together and with a running stitch (start with a know and loop anchor, like always) sew the entire edge. Loop and knot at the end of the seam.

With the sharp scissors make a slit in the fold.

Turn the ear right-side out through the slit.

Line the ear up with the toe seam and attach with invisible stitches.

For the nose/mouth, turn the edge under and pin to the face, near the neck (if there is one) or just above the arms. Stitch with invisible stitches. 

Stitch around the entire nose/mouth, pinning as you go.

Leave an opening at the top to stuff with fluff.

Using invisible stitches close the remainder of the nose.

To add the mouth, after you tie the knot, hide the knot, making sure to bring the needle back out at the corner of the mouth.

Catch one or two loops of the knit in the middle, place the needle into the other corner of the mouth, catch another couple of loops then go back across and run the thread back through the middle loops again. 

Repeat until the mouth is as thick as you would like.

Put the needle back through the corner, you could make a knot or be lazy and pull the needle back out where the first eye should go.

Attach the button for the eye. Once again, put the needle back down through the button and pull it back out where the second eye goes.

Once the second eye is attached, make a knot behind the button and pull the thread through the top of the monkey's head to hide the tail.

Enjoy your new friend!