Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lady Lattice Quilt

When I had the idea for this quilt, I thought it would be very simple. Cut a bunch of fat quarters into 2, 3 and 4 inch strips. Sew them together in random order. Cut strips and piece together. Ta Da! So easy, right? HA! Not so much. While the first steps of cutting strips, sewing them together and cutting rectangles from the big striped pieces was a breeze, cutting and piecing the rest of the top SUCKED! I learned that triangles and 45 degree angles are not for me.

Thankfully, the final product turned out beautiful! This is seriously one of my favorite quilts I've ever seen - and I made it! I will, however, never do this patter again!

I used a vintage sheet for the back. When it came time to actually long arm the quilt, I didn't want to add a whole lot tight stitching as the pattern is already fairly busy. So I created a large scale loop-de-loo pattern (yes, I am fairly sure that is the technical term!).

You can see the quilting really well on the back but it blends in fairly well on the front.

I am in love with the end result. I am giving this to my sister for Christmas but it will be extremely hard to part with. I hope she appreciates the time and effort (and frustration!) that went into this gift. Update: I just couldn't do it. I am keeping this quilt for me! Shhhhhh, don't tell Kelly! I am sitting under it right now!

I LOVE the fabric that I used for the stripes. (Thank you, Meredith!) It's Emperor's Garden by Maywood Studios.

The solid fabric was another vintage sheet. (Thank you, Alisa!) And as always, a HUGE thank you to Gloria for letting our QA club take over her kitchen and studio for long arming every few Sundays.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Inkodye to die for

Have you heard of Inkodye? It's light sensitive dye that you can use on fabric, natural wood and so much more. My awesome MIL got me 3 colors and I've been having a blast experimenting with them.

For our first try, my friend Alisa and I decided to dye canvas and go with an art/sewing/crafting theme. I covered large pieces of cardboard with garbage bags and wrapped the fabric around, securing it with tape. Mix the Inkodye with water and brush it on.

Now comes the fun part! Place cutouts or found objects (the flatter the better) in a pleasing pattern on the fabric and take it outside to sit in the sun. I used buttons and Alisa used art supplies.

While the dye goes on clear, it starts to change color immediately in the sun. In full sun, the dye takes less than 10 minutes. On a cloudy day, a bit longer. We did ours in late afternoon (see how the items are casting shadows?) This is not ideal. Next time I'll do it when the sun is straight overhead. But our first try fabric still turned out really cute and we had a blast!

I'm calling mine "ghosty buttons." Because of the shadows the low sun cast, the buttons aren't as sharp as they could be but overall I still really like the effect.

Alisa's art supply inspired fabric turned out really cool too! Some of the smaller objects didn't work as well, but I love that you can see the markings and text from the clear ruler and triangle she used.

We haven't made anything out of our fabric yet, but we are thinking of making crafting utility aprons. I am also considering making a cushion for my sewing chair out of the button fabric, but the blue really doesn't go in my studio space. I'd love to hear any other ideas of what we should make - leave suggestions in the comments!

Monday, July 9, 2012

We looked! Then we saw him step in on the mat! We looked! And we saw him! The Cat in the Hat!

Have you seen the Dr. Seuss prints from Robert Kauffman? There is a Cat in the Hat and Lorax set. My friend asked me to make a quilt for her little Baby B that arrived earlier this month (Baby B turned out to be Miss Hathaway Jane!) She gave me a fat quarter set of both lines (both colorways for the Lorax!). She wanted me to use the Cat in the Hat fabric for her and the Lorax fabric I get to keep. The Lorax is one of my all time favorite books. I haven't quite decided what I'll make with the fabric, but I am leaning towards another quilt - for me!

This post is supposed to be about the quilt I made her, so I'll stop rambling about the Lorax fabric. (Can you tell I'm excited about it?!?)

There were a couple of difference challenges with this quilt. First, the fabrics are all adorable but a bit busy. Second, my friend wanted something that could be folded and work for a crib but would also work more long term as Baby B grows into a toddler then "big kid." We decided together that something long and narrow would fit both needs - then I discovered the two big panels in the bundle were long and narrow, so it worked out perfectly.

I am not a good pattern follower. I like to make things up as I go and see where it takes me. The Cat in that Hat is zany and a bit crazy, so I decided the quilt needed to be too. As I said before, the fabric is busy so I didn't want that to become overwhelming. So I stuck with larger blocks of the fabric, and just turned everything to a 45 degree angle. I am really happy with the results.

What do you think? Squaring the quilt and appliqueing the center panel on were by far the biggest challenges.

I also wanted to use both big panels that came in the bundle so I did just a little something on the back.

I basically used every scrap of fabric in the entire fat quarter bundle and it worked out perfectly. I quilted my favorite go to "pattern" of meandering bumble bee. It goes nice with the straight lines of the quilt and its so simple to do, you can't mess it up!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Envelope pouch

This past weekend I was feeling inspired to make something for a friend's birthday. I had no real concept of what I wanted to do until I saw an A7 envelope sitting on the filing cabinet in my studio. I thought it would make for a cute clutch/pouch, so I opened it all the way up and used it for a "pattern."

The birthday girl is a big fan of coral and leopard/cheetah prints. Both of these fabrics were in my stash. There is one layer of quilting batting that I fused to the lining with heat n bond. Fusible batting would have been one less step, but I didn't have any on hand.

 I had about 20 minutes before I needed to give the gift, so of course, I decided it was necessary to make another item to go with it. I decided a little zipper pouch that fits perfectly inside would be nice so small things like change wouldn't escape if it was carried alone as a clutch.

I'm really happy with how it turned out. The different textures of the fabrics work well together and I love the little vintage coral button for the envelope closure. The gift was well received and I think I'll have to make more of these babies someday soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

30 Random Acts of Kindness

Kindness Cards

In honor of our 30th birthdays, my friend Michelle and I decided to do a day filled with random (for the recipients) acts of kindness. We had a blast and I would highly recommend doing something like this. It was fun, emotional, hilarious, rewarding and scary (in a good way!)

Care packages for the animal shelter volunteers, librarians, fire department and police department. (After the police wouldn't accept it - we repurposed theirs for nurses!)

Here's what we did (all in about 6 hours!):
1. Took a care package to the local librarians.
2. Left money and a Kindness Card with the librarian to pay someone's fine.
3. Took a snacks care package to the local fire station.
4. Took a snacks care package to the nurse's station at pediatric hospital.
5. Paid for a random person's coffee.
6. Left money and a Kindness Card with a pharmacist to help pay for someone's prescription.
7. Fed quarters to expired parking meters.
8. Paid for someone's shake at the local ice cream parlor.
9. Gave a Starbucks gift card to a family in the park.

I did a pet food drive for a week at work and ended up with a whole trunk full of food, treats and toys with no cost to us, which left more $ to spend on other items!

10. Took about 150 lbs. of stuff to the animal shelter including food, treats and toys.
10a. Took a snacks care package to the volunteers and workers at the animal shelter.
11. Left money and a Kindness Card in the pay phones at the hospital.
12. Gave three bouquets of flowers to nurses in the hospital to give to patients.
13. Left money and a Kindness Card in the beverages vending machines at the hospital.
14. Took crayons, cards and coloring books to the pediatric unit at the hospital. 

Special thank you to Lindsay, Alisa and Gloria for helping make the rosettes and headbands!

15. Made and gave a dozen baby rosette headbands to the maternity ward. 
16. Donated a couple dozen adult and children's books to the patient library. 
17. Gave money and a Kindness Card to the parking attendant in one of the hospital parking garages to pay for the next patient's parking. 
18. Put quarters in all the gum ball and candy dispensers at the mall. 
19. Gave a big bag of suckers to the children's museum to pass out to visiting kids. 
20. Bought movie tickets for a senior couple. 
21. Paid for a girls lunch at a fast food restaurant. 
22. Gave a Target gift card to a family in Target. 
23. Gave a Target gift card to a young pregnant girl in Target. 
24. Gave a Starbucks gift card to a guy in the Starbucks parking lot. 
25. Bought helium balloons and gave them to kids in the grocery store. 
26. Gave a woman in the grocery store parking lot a gift card to the store.
27. Gave a gas gif card to a woman in the gas station. 
28. Put a baggy of quarters with a Kindness Card in someone's laundry at the laundromat. 
29. Gave an elderly woman a grocery gift card in the grocery store. 
30. Paid for someone's snow cone. 

So now you're wondering, "Which ones were fun, emotional, hilarious, rewarding and scary?" Here are the stories and memories:

#7. Fed quarters to expired parking meters. Did you know that feeding other people's meters is illegal some places? We saw a meter maid writing tickets so we snuck down the block ahead of him, plugging expired meters. If you know either of us, stealth is not a strong point! I felt like we were doing something very naughty, which is always fun!

#8. Paid for someone's shake at the local ice cream parlor. It was a weird time of day, and no one was at the ice cream parlor so we had to wait around for a customer. The first person was a super nerdy, mildly creepy looking dude, so of course, I made Michelle pay! He was exceptionally confused and flustered. I am pretty sure this is what he was thinking, "Dear God! A GIRL! And she's talking to me! What do I do?!? What do I do?!?" It was hilarious.

#10a. Took a snacks care package to the volunteers and workers at the animal shelter. They were very excited and thankful that we also brought treats for the people. It seems people generously donate to the animals, never considering all the volunteer hours it takes to run a shelter! I'm glad we thought of this!

#14. Took crayons, cards and coloring books to the pediatric unit at the hospital. This girl was the only person who really, really wanted to know who we were. We told her simply "Tonya and Michelle" but wouldn't give her more. We weren't doing this for thanks or recognition, just for the joy of it.

#15. Made and gave a dozen baby rosette headbands to the maternity ward. The woman at the reception desk seemed very confused. We left the bag and a stack of Kindness Cards with her. After we walked away, she opened it up and got very excited. She caught us as we got in the elevator for a very enthusiastic thank you and told us how cute she thought they were. Again, super special thank you to my QA (Quilters Anonymous) girls, Lindsay, Alisa and Gloria for helping get these all done in one afternoon. You did a wonderful job and they were all beautiful!

#18. Put quarters in all the gum ball and candy dispensers at the mall. After we'd done this, we wandered the mall doing other acts of kindness. A while later we saw a little boy with two giant handfuls of candy, grinning ear to ear. At first I was a bit annoyed he used as many quarters as his hands could hold the candy. But then I decided, to a kid, that was like hitting it big on a slot machine and his elation was contagious!

#20. Bought movie tickets for a senior couple. Unexpectedly, this became a favorite act for both of us. After we paid, the woman pulled us aside and asked a bunch of questions about what we were doing and why. Then she told us that she and a friend started the "Pay It Forward" curriculum for the state of New Jersey schools. She took two Kindness Cards so she could pay it forward for each movie ticket. Our conversation ended with hugs and the knowledge that at least one of our acts of kindness would definitely be paid forward. It was awesome!

#24. Gave a Starbucks gift card to a guy in the Starbucks parking lot. After waiting for a while in the parking lot (everyone goes through the drive thru and not into the store!) we were beginning to look suspicious and act silly. The poor guy we gave this too ran a gauntlet of emotions as we approached and gave him the gift card - every single emotion clearly displayed on his face. It was funny.

#25. Bought helium balloons and gave them to kids in the grocery store. Besides the police who could not accept our care package (as it constituted bribery - OOPS!) one little boy was the only person to turn down an act of kindness. He was very serious about not wanting a balloon. It worked out because we only had 2 left and gave them both to sisters, who would have had to share otherwise.

#27. Gave a gas gif card to a woman in the gas station. This woman had let us go in front of her in line, then watched us purchase the gift card. When I turned around and gave it to her with a kindness card, she was SHOCKED! It was pretty funny and an over the top reaction for a $10 gas card. We could see her animatedly telling others about what we did as we drove away.

#28. Put a baggy of quarters with a Kindness Card in someone's laundry at the laundromat. Let's face it, laundromats are scary, even in Iowa, even in the middle of the day. It was full of some unusual looking men, so after a tiny bit of hesitation, we threw the Kindness Card and quarters into someone's basket as they had their back turned and ran out the door! Were we being over dramatic? Yes. Was it hilarious, fun and exhilarating at the same time? Definitely!

#29. Gave an elderly woman a grocery gift card in the grocery store. This woman was super sweet and thankful. We got another hug from her!

The final, mildly unrelated story of the day: Before we even got started, I found a roofing nail... in my foot. It wasn't terrible but resulted in me limping all day and a trip to urgent care the next morning for a tetanus shot and to get a small piece of shoe dug out of my heal. Thanks, Karma, for your kindness to me while I do 30 selfless acts.

Again, this was a wonderful experience and I plan to do it again in the future. Now it's your turn. Grab a good friend and start your random acts of kindness day. I promise you will have a blast! I'd love to hear about it if you do it/have done it. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Return of the Ghastlies

I realize it's nearly May but I'm just now getting around to posting pics of some things I made for Christmas gifts. I made these for my mother-in-law.

Ghastlies Table Runner

Ghastlies Oven Mit (front & back)

Four Ghastlies Placemats 

What made me finally remember to post these? I bought several yards of the newest Ghastlies family print, Family Reunion, when I was on vacation earlier this month! YAY! I can't wait to get reacquainted with the family with some new projects!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chevron (zig zag) quilt

I actually finished this quilt a while ago but hadn't been out to take photos. December and January were nearly snow-free and unseasonably warm. So of course I waited until February when it's cold and there's 6 inches of snow on the ground to take pictures.

This quilt was SO simple. Sew a bunch of strips together, cut into squares, twist and sew back together! What? That's not enough for you to make one too? Check out Bee Square's tutorial.

I even made giant chevrons on the back using vintage sheets.

Instead of traditional binding, I used giant ric rac from Pick Your Plum. Have you signed up for PYP yet? It's 1 deal per day, all super affordable crafting/sewing/creative supplies. I love it!

For fabric, I used 11 different prints from Ruby Heirloom by Joel Dewberry.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cheater French Onion Soup

This French onion soup is ridiculously easy and fast - there are only 5 ingredients! And you make it right in the bowl so there's less dishes which is always a plus in my book.

I am going to give amounts that make 2 dinner servings or 4 servings if it's with a meal, but since you are making it right in the serving bowls, you can easily make more or less depending on how many people you're feeding.

3 cups beef broth
2 T. cooking sherry
1 sm canister French fried onions (like you put on green bean casserole)
1 sm baguette (day old works best)
2-4 cheese slices (I've used swiss, muenster, provolone and mozzarella - use whatever you like)

Divide broth and sherry equally between oven safe bowls. Split the canister of French onions equally between bowls. Top each with a thick (about 1") slice of bread and a slice of cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Done! It's delicious and so simple.

The cheese in the red and yellow bowls is mozzarella and the cheese in the orange and blue bowls is swiss. Any of the cheese will brown up nicely - just in different amounts of time. I could have left the swiss ones in a bit longer, but I'm impatient!

One last tip: don't skip the sherry. Even though it's a very small amount, it adds a complexity to the soup that you really do miss without it.


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