September 26, 2016

Shirt Upcycle

A couple of years ago I made this apron using one of my husband's old denin shirt. I got the idea from the book Kitchen Stitches which has awesome projects, compiled by Karen M. Burns from Martingale (see original post here). I really liked all the projects in the book but this apron caught my attention. I raided Chuck's closet and found the perfect candidate for a makeover!

I added a cool trim as well as multi-colored ric-rac I had purchased in Brazil.  I love the worn look and colorful details. At the time I put it away because I did not know who I was going to give it to. Until this summer, when my mom came to visit. Since she had not been here in over three years, I had a lot of projects to show her.

As soon as she saw the apron she fell in love with it, so I gave it to her. This morning I was checking Facebook and this is what I found:

She had company over this weeekend and sported her new apron. I am so happy she liked it, and even happier I got to review that book, which Martingale is selling in eVersion format only - very convenient as we just print the patterns we want to work on. I save them all in a binder inside plastic protectors. Here is what the original Shirt Tails apron featured in the book looks like:

(Photograph by Brent Kane for Martingale, used by permission).
So, take a look inside your husband's closet and choose the shirts you know he has not worn in a long time. Then, following the easy instructions and adding some interesting trim, transform them into practical and lovely gifts. Customize them for the male chefs in your family, too.

After all, Christmas is coming and the goal is to stay ahead of the game.

Happy Monday,

September 20, 2016

Christmas gifts

(All photographs by Brent Kane for Martingale. Used by permission.)
I have been working on Christmas gifts at home and longing for the gatherings, the smell of yummy confections in my kitchen, and the surprised look that family and friends give me as they open the packages with the gifts I made. Handmade gifts are wonderful: they make you feel good as you work on them, they bring joy to the recipients.

If you enjoy making gifts as much as I do, you will probably like this book by Pat WysHandmade Christmas Cheer has 16 gift ideas you can make using embroidery, wool and cotton applique', quilting... The traditional Christmas icons (Santa, reindeer, Christmas lights, holy, wreaths, angels, etc.) are given a fresh makeover with Pat's touch of whimsy, which we have come to love and expect from all her projects.

I love everything about the stockings on the book cover (above): the fabric choices, the stitchery, the fun designs... But then, as I go through the book, I find other gems which are equally hard to resist. Here are some of my favorites:

Check out the embroidery design on this quilted place mat! You can also take a peek at the design on the hat that is holding the silverware. My dining room table would look wonderful with them!

This three skirt, with its colored and embroidered holy leaves on white background, looks just like a peppermint candy! 

The tea towels are lovely... and I like the idea from Brent's photo shoot - add Christmas cookies to the gift package when I deliver the towels!

How about this Candle Lamp? Super fun with beads and buttons...

As you can see, the hardest part is to choose which project to make first! Whichever you pick, there are step-by-step instructions with photographs and diagrams throughout the book, as well as a hand stitch primer at the end with all the information you need to choose fabrics, threads, and needles for the projects. The icing on the cake: ideas about how to jazz up your embroidery. Yeah!

I noticed that I start thinking more about embroidery at this time of the year, when the weather brings windy and rainy days as it prepares the landscape for the inevitable white blanket which will cover everything really soon. Handmade Christmas Cheer has beautiful, colorful designs with which to cheer me up, and all those who will receive the gifts I make. I think you will like this book, too!

Happy stitching,

September 14, 2016

Crochet Hat/Scarf

Although I was on vacation in San Diego, CA, last week, I had to work on some type of craft, or I would have gone mad. I did some embroidery (will show it soon) but made a run to the yarn shop after I received the book "Celtic Cable Crochet" by Bonnie Barker for review.

Oh... the patterns are sooooooooo beautiful! I am in love with the cardigans, shawls, cowls... All instructions are very straight forward and easy to follow. The last chapter has step-by-step photographs of the foundation stitches used throughout the book, which helped me a lot.

I wanted to finish a project from the book before I flew back home, so I chose the Dublin Duo (all photographs published by permission of Interweave and F+W Media Inc.):

This pattern was really fun, with arrows and reverse arrows. After a little while I did not have to look at the instructions so I was breezing through them. I did make one mistake on the scarf, which you will see below (Ryan, my 15-year-old son and model wasn't available for this photo shoot!).

The scarf was my first project. I had trouble working with hook size J, for some reason. The scarf is worked the long way and when I realized my edge did not look like the book I was too far into the project to frog it, so I repeated the mistake at the end and called it a day.

The cables look really nice, though, which is due to Bonnie's redesign of this traditional stitch. I also enjoyed working with a lighter yarn.

This is how my hat turned out. I think it is the first time I crochet (instead of knit) a hat. The construction was clever and fast. I used Heartland yarn by Lion Brand Yarns Size 4 (Medium weight) in color 113 Redwood, and crochet hook size J 10 (6 mm). The projects are soft thanks to the yarn and, possibly, to my stitches which aren't so tight.

One more Christmas present down, a bunch more to go. My next project from this book will have to be this scowl:

Super cute, huh? I may even do it in the color shown above.

Celtic Cable Crochet has 18 modern projects which are perfect for gifts or to add to your wardrobe. I am happy I decided to make the Dublin Duo! It was a fun break from sewing.

Enjoy your day,

September 12, 2016

Fabric fun

Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting Hoffman California-International Fabrics in Mission Viejo, California. You know Hoffman: they are famous worldwide for their amazing Bali batiks, as well as Asian-themed, tropical, novelty, holiday, and other fabrics created by their talented designers.

These batiks are screaming "Turn me into a modern quilt"! 
When I get my hands on one of these bundles I will be happy to oblige!

Rube P. Hoffman started the company back in 1924 and, to this day, the Hoffman family maintains a tradition of quality and innovation, keeping their fabrics interesting and fresh - something we quilters and sewists love (not to mention surfwear manufacturers)!

The Hoffman family has won many surf competition titles. Watch this cool, short video to learn more about how surfing is a major part of the Hoffman brand.
These prints are so dang cute!
Gorgeous print!
After meeting with their creative and marketing gurus, I had the privilege of going on a tour of the warehouse. Let me tell you: I am ready to rent a space there, pack my quilting studio, and move in. I could be their Resident "Fabric Tester": choose, pet, and cut. My resume' is already being re-written.

Hoffman's two families - the founding family and the wonderful group of people who have been working there for generations - ensure the rest of us are pretty happy. Of course, at times things may not go so smoothly at the office... We can all relate, right?

They are already packing fabric prizes for the Houston International Show. Boxes and boxes of fabric bundles which, right now, sound much better to me then chocolate. Go ahead and call me a turncoat.

Note to my family: this is what a perfect Christmas gift looks like to me. Just saying...
I went to California to rest. I came home relaxed and with lots of inspiration after enjoying long walks by the ocean, working on crafts (will show them soon), and taking in eye-candy of the textile kind. I am one happy camper.

Wishing you a fun Monday,

September 8, 2016

Portuguese Cupboard

I love Timeless Treasures new fabric line called True Blue. Above is the quilt I designed for that line which I called "Portuguese Cupboard". It is available as a free download at the Timeless Treasures site - check it out and look for the fabric line!

The prints in the True Blue collection (19 in all) are beautiful with tea cups and saucers, delicate flowers, tone-on-tone options... everything to add texture and interest to the quilt. This design is made up of two simple blocks with fabrics carefully placed to form the squares on point which appear on the background. Easy-to-follow instructions help get this project cut and put together in no time at all. 

Timeless Treasures has great projects on their site so, after you download Portuguese Cupboard, check out the other patterns. They are worth it!

Happy Thursday!

September 6, 2016

Round Robin

As I promised in my previous post, here is Lisa's quilt. Doesn't it look gorgeous? The pattern for her center block is called Flower Patch by Thimble Blossoms. Deb added the large gray border and the HSTs on point. I added the narrow gray border, the 1/4 circles plus the large gray border to wrap up the design.

Lisa did a great job quilting it... and the result is a bright, fun round robin wall hanging. Round Robins can stretch us a bit and I love it. Have you ever been part of one?

Speaking of Lisa, a little while ago I took some pictures of her wonderful quilt studio:

Her studio has a wall with white shelves for fabrics, notions, and her precious possessions. It is such a happy place!

This corner is close to her windows, but the whole room is sunlit. Her long-arm quilting machine is on the wall opposite from the one showed, but this is my favorite corner...

Except for this summer, we meet at her quilt studio once a month for a few hours of quilting and socializing. Aren't we lucky?

Happy quilting week!

September 1, 2016

Christmas Table Topper

Last Fall, my friends Deb, Lisa, and I started a small round robin. We each made a quilt block (or a quilt center) and took turns adding borders to it. 

This is how my quilt turned out - don't you love these prints in the Holly's Tree Farm fabric line by Moda Fabrics? (My favorite quilt holder is not around much now that school started, so a bench will have to do...).

This square table topper measures 33-1/2". Lisa added the first few borders: blue print with flying geese, cute striped flange, the red and green border and the large striped border. Deb added the large border with pinwheels and corner blocks. I treasure this quilt!

The colors in this picture are sort of funky but I wanted to show you the simple quilting lines, the backing, and the binding up close.

As I quilted I made sure not to touch the flange. It took me a while to finish this project because there was so much going on during the first part of this year. Now that it is ready I can't wait to use Christmas season might come earlier to my house because I need to see these pretty colors on the table!

 Here is Deb's quilt (I will post Lisa's quilt picture as soon as I get it):

I  made the fence border with apples on the corners (yes, the flower print is Liberty of London!), and Lisa added the last border - I love the houses! She printed Deb's last name and appliqued it under the tree. Cool way to personalize and add meaning to the quilt. 

I love the quilting lines and the random print leaves. Actually, I like everything about this wall hanging! 

I hope this post has inspired you to start your own round robin. You don't have to have a lot of people in your quilt group to do one. As for us, we are going to start another one this Fall. Stay tuned!


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