October 30, 2012

Linky Party

Just linked to the Tuesday Linky Party at Today's Creative Blog, Quilt Story, Ladybug Blessings, Not Just a Housewife, Crafty Confessions, Creative Itch, Homemaker on a Dime, and Freemotion by the River (phew!). Go check out all the fun stuff they are featuring!!! (As for me, I am going to bed now!)


Star Mat Tutorial


This is the tutorial I promised for the Star Mat I am making for Christmas. In fact, I will make a few of them to give as gifts and for the Holiday Festival I will participate in within a couple of weeks - I am sure the ladies will like to give them as gifts, too!

However, as I mentioned in a previous post (here), you can use this pattern with any fabric to match your home decor, or for another Holiday.

Although this is a simple project, the tutorial is very detailed so as to make it easy on you. Be prepared for lots of pictures, as usual!

Here is a list of what you will need:


Basic sewing supplies
2 coordinating fabrics for the top - 1 strip of each, 6" x WOF (width of fabric)
matching fabric for the backing - 22" x 24"
batting - 22" x 24"
ruler with a 60 degree line on it (I use a 6" x 24" Omnigrid ruler)
mat and rotary cutter
contrasting thread for topstitching
monofilament for SITD (stitch in the ditch) - optional

Here are my two strips of coordinating fabrics for the star mat top.


Using the 60 degree line on the ruler, lay it along the length of the first strip. Cut on both sides to create diamonds. Each strip will yield five diamonds, but if you are making one mat, you will need only three diamonds from each fabric.


Cut 1/4" tips from the two long ends of the diamonds. You can use the Bias Ruler (see here) or...
... another favorite ruler of mine, the Wonder Triangles ruler.
Place two contrasting diamonds right sides together, and stitch one side starting from the wide tip you just trimmed to the middle of the diamond, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Do this for another set of diamonds. Remember, this second set is part of the bottom of the star, so the diamonds you are sewing now must be in a different order than the first two you sewed. In my case, the first two I sewed were green onto red. The second set was red onto green.
Press seams flat.
Now, add the third diamond to each half of the star mat you just sewed...
Press seems flat again.

Here is what you should have by now: the top and the bottom part of the mat, which you will now sew together.
So that the points will match, I like to put a pin through the point on one block and then through the point on the other side. This pin just stays like that - sort of loose on the fabrics. I then pin to the right and to the left of this pin. This way the fabrics won't shift. Now, pin the rest of the blocks together.




Press seams flat again. Here is what the front will look like:
... pretty...

On your cutting table, lay the batting first, then the backing with right side "up". Next, place star onto backing with the right side "down".
Pin together the layers, then cut them. You will also trim the tips of the star again (the backing and the batting layers).
Sew a 1/4" seam around the three layers of the star, leaving about a 2" opening on one side (be sure to back stitch on both sides of the opening, so when you turn the star right side out, it won't rip the stitches.
Do cut a "pie" or "v" on the inside corners of the star, so that when you flip the star right side out, the inside corners will lay flat. Be careful not to cut too close to the stitches.
Turn star inside out. I like to use a chopstick on the points so they will be as 'pointy' as possible despite all the layers.
Top stitching time: first, close the opening by turning the fabrics inside and pining it. I start top stitching there, a bit closer to the edge (1/8" of a seam as opposed to 1/4", and then increase it to 1/4" seam after the opening area, just to ensure the two ends are sewn well and will not open). Use a contrasting thread, and increase the stitch length (in my Bernina, regular stitch length is 2.4 and I increase it to 3.0 for top stitching). Notice that I top stitched using a walking foot, which handles thickness better than the regular foot.
After top stitching, and still using the walking foot, I change the top thread to monofilament and stitch in the ditch across the star.

This is what the back of the star mat looks like after I SITD...
... and your star mat is done! Easy, huh?

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Send me pictures if you decide to make it, and let me know if you have any questions.

Imagine a Christmas (or Thanksgiving) table set using these mats as chargers under each plate! Beautiful!


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October 29, 2012

Bias Ruler

This Bias Ruler is a 'must-have'! Bias binding used to be a hassle as often I would have to undo the stitches because the strips would not line up perfectly. No more!

Cut the strips with the ruler, making sure you also cut on the two notches at both ends of the ruler. Then, align the strips perpendicular to one another, matching the notches. Voila!

I have so many rulers, but this one will be used all the time... I got it a few weeks ago and used it for the first time this weekend.

Have you worked with this ruler? If not, you make consider getting one - I am so glad I did!

Do you have a ruler you can't work without?



October 26, 2012

Snow pumpkin?

My friend Celeste and her daughter brought over this awesome pumpkin the other day. I love how they decorated with black and white ribbon - against the white paint. The black tulle ribbon on the stem completes the look.

Today I am calling it 'snow pumpkin' because, if you notice on the left side of the picture, we got two inches of snow yesterday (see next picture). No fair! This is still October!!!

Sapphire the cat went out on the deck for less than a minute this morning, curious about the white stuff on the floor... Too cold for her paws!

Can you believe this? The lovely fall weather didn't really last long this year.

Back to creative Celeste and her gift: this is another fast project (pumpkin, white paint, ribbons, tulle, and glue gun). However, everyone will notice and comment on it, as has happened to mine.

How lucky I am to be surrounded by wonderful and creative friends! Oh, and I almost forgot the other part of her gift! Check out this cute Halloween pillow:







Cute, huh? She knows I love cats... My boys have been playing with it, and I am glad Halloween will end next week - I will put it away before it frays completely (although the stitched line around the pillow will hold it together regardless of how rough they are)!

For Halloween, I prefer "cute" rather than "freaky"... How about you? What do you do, and how do you decorate for Halloween?


October 25, 2012

Star table mat

This is a quick and fun quilt project! You can customize it for any season. It can be used as a mat for a candle holder, or as a charger. I will make a tutorial for it soon.

In the meantime, here are the two I've made so far. Others will be coming up as I just got more cute Christmas fabrics.














There is batting in between the layers, and I top-stitched using contrasting thread. I decided to only stitch in the ditch, but any quilting would look great.

I can imagine a table set for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner with these as chargers. It would look so festive! If giving as gifts, I would give them in sets of 8 at least.

On to the next project! I am on a roll this week!





October 24, 2012

Christmas Wreath Wall Hanging

I just finished this wall hanging yesterday. The wreath motif came from a Christmas Tree Skirt I found in an old book. It took a while to make templates and cut out all the pieces, but I like the way it turned out. I machine appliqued the wreath and embroidered the words.






The picture is not great (rainy day makes for weird pics), but here is a detail:


It measures 17 1/2 x 15 1/2. The cross-hatch quilting contrasts well with the shape of the wreath, even though I had to start and stop many times as I was quilting up to and inside the wreath (I used free-motion to outline the wreath inside and out, which tied up the starting and ending points of the cross-hatching quite nicely). As for the embroidery, I wanted the letters to look simple.

Has Christmas been on your mind, too?


October 23, 2012

Creative mending

My youngest son, Ryan, asked me to mend his jeans for him. They are one of his favorites - the other one is just like this one! He actually told me how he wanted me to do it. At first, I thought he wanted me to cut out fabric and sew it on top of the rip (or I could use one of those patches that we glue on the pants). Well, this is what he wanted:


I call it "Ryan's broken heart jeans"... Now, he wants me to fix the other one, too. I wonder how long this 'patch' will last, and also wonder how many of you will look at this and say: What? Is she crazy? Well, I made an 11-year-old happy today!


October 22, 2012

Pinterest...

... is not a good idea if you can't fall back asleep in the middle of the night. Ask me how I know this... Plus, what is up with all those weight loss pictures under DIY and Crafts? Do they appear under other categories, too?

Tell me what you do when you lose sleep. Since my quilt room is across the (short) hallway from my bedroom, and right above my kids' bedroom, I am afraid sewing is out of the question. Crochet? Knitting? Ai, ai, ai...


October 18, 2012

Busy week...

Whew! It is hard to believe it is Thursday already! I don't know about your week, but mine has been crazy...


... canning pears...

... hand quilting with the guild...

... teaching machine quilting class...

... running errands...


The closer we get to the holidays, the crazier things get around here. In order to get it all done, or close enough to it, I need to prioritize, be efficient, and stay calm. The Christmas row quilt needs two more rows, the drunkard's path blocks are ready to be sewn together, and the Christmas gifts are coming along.

The kids are off school today and tomorrow, so no quilting will be done for sure. I will, however, have time to go through books, magazines, and patterns looking for items to make to the Holiday Boutique coming up in November. (Maybe I will even set up my etsy store!)

What is on your to do list?




October 17, 2012

In the wee hours...

One thirty in the morning and I cannot fall back asleep. Two weeks into this diet, and I sort of miss being able to eat bread and butter whenever I am hungry.

Waking up during the night is tricky, as the brain starts engaging in overdrive at the wrong time: prepare for class I am teaching on Thursday (scheduled before I knew my kids would have no school that day, and since everybody I know will be traveling, I have no babysitter!), the upcoming 15-minute talk on Sunday at church which still needs to be written, other looming deadlines...

(The cup of mint tea I prepared was drained quicker than I noticed!)

Well, let's try the reverse: what have I already accomplished since Monday? First and foremost, I HAVE ALREADY VOTED!!! Pears are canned. Four small sewing projects I started last Saturday are finished. Three loads of laundry done. Yesterday's phone calls returned. Husband's car taken to dealership for repairs. Another embroidery block almost finished. Kids are still alive despite their tantrums over... whatever.

(I am hoping to be so tired remembering all that I did that I will crawl back to bed. Not working yet.)

Too early to call my mom or sister in Brazil. Preparing tomorrow's dinner would be too noisy. Counting sheep doesn't work as I find them so cute that I stop counting them and start designing baby quilts in my head. Too late to take Melatonin. Have prayed twice and I bet God did not appreciate being disturbed at this time of the night (He lives on my time zone, in case you did not know). Eating is out of the question...

(I make sure I do not feed the cat when I am awake during the night: 1. I am giving her an opportunity to show empathy towards my diet; 2. If eating during the night increases my likelihood of one day having diabetes, it can't be good for the cat, either...)

Last option: move to a more comfortable couch and read the scriptures under one of my quilts. I will let you know how it worked out...

In the meantime, what do you do when you are Sleepless in Seattle???


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