Only 128 more days until Christmas! Normally at this time of the year, I am thinking about Halloween and working on fall projects, but let’s take a quick detour to Christmas today. I have a whole stack of UFOs sitting near my work table, and I am slowly working through them. Today I finished up some wool Christmas ornaments that I started 2 years ago!
This is the “Trimmings” pattern from Wooden Spool Designs (ppst – the pattern is on sale at her website). It’s a great way to use up wool scraps. They also make lovely gift tags and teacher gifts.
My pumpkin obsessed son already has me working on things for Halloween! Threads that Bind has a very cute pattern called Pumpkin Farm that makes five stuffed jack-o-lanterns. My son saw the pattern and insisted that I buy it. Now he is expecting me to make him one new pumpkin each day for the next week.
“Crack” is the first pumpkin to be finished (although it will probably take a few more weeks to finish all five) and he turned out pretty cute. This is made with a very easy reverse applique process and only took about an hour to make. Since I know these pumpkins will get a lot of attention from my son (ie, he will eat, sleep, and play with them), I went ahead and used the cheaper wool felt blend for it. I don’t really care for this type of felt, it doesn’t look as nice and it pills quite easily. However, for a kid’s project, it’s just the ticket.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there and an extra special hug and kiss to my dear mom! I meant to get this posted yesterday, but time just gets away. I also noticed it’s been two weeks since my last post – shame on me!
Here is what I had waiting for me when I woke up on Sunday morning. On the other side of the card my son had drawn the entire lifecycle of a butterfly from the egg – too cute!
I’ve found some great picture at the thrift stores recently. The first one is a print from 1954 by Ken Davies called “Dearest Dolls”. From a bit of research, it seems as if this was a print commissioned by Family Circle magazine. This is painted in what is known as trompe-l’œil–painting something so realistic as to make it appear like it is actually a three dimensional object. All of his subjects involve some form of Americana and after looking at his website, I wish I could have a whole houseful of his paintings!
Here is another treasure I found, stitched by Pam Jersey in 1975. Her name is signed on the back of the frame. I’d like to get this cleaned, blocked, and re-framed and am tempted to find some vintage floss and stitch her name and date on the front. What do you think – is that cheating? This is going in my downstairs bathroom.
Finally, here is an old-fashioned cross-stitched sampler, no idea of the date or who made it. I figure it must be at least from the 60’s or 70’s…any ideas? This is a good reminder that you must always sign and date your work. You have no idea who might find it years later and really appreciate it.
Last week, my husband discovered a nest of baby rabbits in our back yard! They grow pretty quickly and recently were big enough to leave the nest. It was hard to get a good picture of them since we didn’t want to disturb them. The mama rabbit would come by in the evenings to check on and feed her two little bunnies. They are so cute and we were sad to see them go, but maybe they will come back to say “hello” on Easter.
Speaking of Easter, you probably have everything you need for your baskets, but if you are looking for a fun and quick project, click HERE for my tutorial on how to make a Sock Bunny! I made these last year was very pleased with the results. If you have time, you can also make a colorful vest, dress, or bonnet for your rabbit.
Happy Birthday to me! Yes, today is my birthday – one of my favorite days of the year (besides Halloween and Fourth of July) and I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a Cupcake Pincushion.
Awhile back during one of my thrift store runs, I bought a bunch of plastic ramekins with the idea of making something with them. Inspiration struck me when I was trying to come up a fun gift for a sewing friend and this cute little cupcake pincushion was born. In honor of my birthday, I put together this tutorial for you.
3 oz plastic fluted ramekin
6″ Sq. Fabric
Size 5 Perle Cotton
Saucer (for template)
Glue (I used Allene’s Quick Dry glue)
3/16″ glue dots
1. Trace around the saucer on the square of fabric. The circle should be roughly 5 1/2″ in diameter.
2. Thread an embroidery needle with a 36″ piece of perle cotton. Make a running stitch around the outside of the circle with about a 1/4″ seam allowance. (Figure 1)
3. Gather the circle and stuff tightly with Poly-fil. Gather tightly and tie off, but leave about 28″ of thread for the long tail – do not cut. (Figure 2)
4. Poke the needle through the top center of the pincushion and come out at the bottom center. Wrap perle cotton around edge of pincushion and come down through the top center again. Pull on thread to make tight (cushion will dimple on the side). Wrap cotton on the opposite side and come down through top center again and pull tight. Proceed in this manner until you have done this a total of 8 times. The cushion will now be segmented into 8 parts. (Figure 3)
5. Bring thread up through center one more time so that it is coming out through the top center. Take red button and place in top center of pincushion. Thread the perle cotton through button holes and then down through bottom to secure button. Repeat 2 – 3 times. (Figure 4)
6. Apply glue to inside of ramekin. (Figure 5). Place cushion inside ramekin and let dry for a few hours.
7. Cut 18″ of ribbon. Use glue dots to secure ribbon to outside of ramekin (place glue dots about every inch around top). Tie into a bow. Put a dot of glue to secure bow. Add some pins. Enjoy! (Figure 6).
First off, here’s my monthly stash reduction report for February 2012:
Used the last month: 4 yards
Used Year to Date: 5 yards
Added in the last Month: 2 yards
Added Year to Date: 32 yards
Net Used for 2012: +28 yards
As you can see, I had a much better month then January, since I actually used more fabric than I bought. My overall net went down by 1 yard, so surely by the end of the year my net fabric used will be running in the negative (that’s the goal).
I also had time to finally finish two pillow kits that I’ve had for at least 4 years! The first is a cute little wool bunny – perfect for Spring. This kit is from a LQS (local quilt shop), and I think the owner of the shop drew the bunny pattern. This is wool applique on top of one of those colorful cotton dishtowels. The trim is a cream colored fringe that sets off the pillow perfectly.
The second pillow is from a Crabapple Hill pattern (I think it was a freebie pattern she offered a long time ago). It is stitched with Red, White, and Blue perle cotton. I love the fireworks!
What projects have you been able to complete this month? What are you working on for Spring?
Looking for a quick gift or a fun home dec idea? Here’s a set of Pretty Patchwork Heart Pockets that can be sewn together in about an hour. This tutorial includes directions for making both versions!
Make a bunch of these and place in a pretty basket or bowl. Use clothespins to attach them to ribbon and create a fun garland or window swag!
You can use scraps for this and make them in a variety of colors – red and white for Valentine’s Day, green and white for St. Patrick’s Day, red/white/blue for Fourth of July, orange and black for Halloween, or red and green for Christmas!
The back features a small pocket. Tuck in a gift card or some dried flowers.
From Fabric A cut:
Three 4.5″ squares
One 5.5″ Square
One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle
From Fabric B cut:
Three 4.5″ squares
One 5.5″ Square
One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle
Take one Fabric A 4.5″ square and one Fabric B 4.5″ square. Pin the squares right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam on the right and left sides. Make two sets (Figure 1).
Cut these units into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″. Make sure you are cutting parallel to the seams you just made (Figure 2). Do this for both sets.
Press the seams towards the darkest fabric to create two pieced units (Figure 3).
Take the center rectangles and sew them to the appropriate side of the pieced units (Figure 4). Press the seams to the darks. You now have two units of alternating fabrics (A-B-A and B-A-B). Make two sets.
Take one of each type of square (A-B-A and B-A-B), make sure stripes are going the same direction, and pin them right sides together. Sew along the shorter sides with a 1/4″ seam. Do this for both sets. Cut each set into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″. You will be cutting perpendicularly to the stripes (Figure 5). Press the seams.
Sew the center strip to the appropriate pieced unit to make TWO nine-patch blocks (Figure 6). Do not sew the other strips to make blocks. You will now two nine-patch blocks and two sets of partial blocks.
To make Version 1, sew the partial blocks onto one nine patch block (Figure 7).
Take make Version 2, sew the 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangles onto one nine patch block (Figure 8).
Set these two heart fronts aside and make the pocket. Take the remaining two of the 4.5″ squares, and press it on the diagonal right sides OUT (Figure 9).
Take one of the 5.5″ squares, place it right side up, and then pin one of the folded triangles on this to make the pocket. For best results, use contrasting pocket on the backing fabric (Figure 10).
Pin one heart front and one heart back right sides together (Figure 11).
Download Heart Template here. Trace onto piece of cardboard and cut out template. In order to create sewing line, place template on pinned hearts and trace around it (Figure 12). DO NOT CUT. Sew around the line you just drew – leave a 3″ opening in one side for stuffing.
Cut off excess fabric and leave about 1/4″ seam. Clip corner, curves, and heart center. Turn inside out (Figure 13). Stuff lightly and hand-stitch opening closed.
I have to confess, I’ve already blown my stash reduction resolution made at the beginning of the month – it’s a lot harder than I thought! In my defense, I had good reasons for purchasing the following items (and some of it falls under the rule exceptions).
Here is a bundle of Halloween fabric I purchased at an online quilt shop. This fabric line features “Boo Kitty” and is designed by Bonnie Sullivan of All Through the Night. There are several good reasons why I needed this much. First, it was on sale for a very good price and there was a 1 yard minimum cut per fabric. Second, this line was released years ago and is VERY hard to find. Third, I have the cutest pattern for a Halloween table topper that uses this fabric and I WILL make it – I promise!
Here is my haul from the thrift store. I usually find nice large pieces of corduroy and denim that I can use for my bags. There is a new pattern in the works and I will need to make a few prototypes. It’s better to use fabric from the thrift store since it is so cheap (about $1 a yard).
So, as you can see, all these purchases were justifiable. But just to keep things honest, I am going to write down my MONTHLY stash report (it’s apparent these need to be done monthly, in order to have the desired effect of actually reducing the stash):
Three (actually two and half) sewing days until Christmas!! I am sure many of you are busily finishing up your hand crafted gifts so they are ready to be opened Christmas morning! But, what if things aren’t going as planned and you find yourself in the same dilemma as my friend Jen:
Dear Keep It Thimble,I’m guessing most people are experiencing what I am right now, which is last minute Xmas-freak-outs. I’m trying to decide if I should give up on some of my gifts. I had planned on making PJ pants for all the kids, and reversible totes for the girls.So far, I have 1 and ¾ PJS done. The third pair is not even cut out yet. Here is the clincher: Thursday and Friday will be spent getting ready for Xmas – so there is no time to sew. Do I have time to make 3 bags and 1+ jammies before then? What would you do?
Great question Jen, and I wanted to share this since I am sure many people are in the same boat. I, like you, had grand plans to make all my Christmas gifts this year. Last Friday, I came to the realization that I didn’t have time to get all my gifts finished.* So, I baked homemade treats for my friends and bought things from the store for my family (gasp). In the meantime, I decided that birthdays are the best time to give someone a handmade gift. That way you have more time to make each person something special and unique, and you don’t paint yourself in a corner and end up sewing like a maniac for 2 – 3 days (something you want to avoid at the holidays since there are other things that will need your attention).
In your case, I think you should try to finish up the PJs and then make the bags for either a birthday gift, or a New Year’s present. If it is a New Year present, you can put a book or a calendar in there – a new start for the year or something.
*Of course, it was my fault for procrastinating too much, and had I started them in September (as planned), things would have turned out differently.
Also, if you do find that you need to bake instead, here is a delicious (and easy fudge recipe):
1-1/2 pounds white candy coating, coarsely chopped
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chopped gumdrops
Line a 9-in. square pan with foil; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the candy coating, milk and salt. Cook and stir over low heat until chips are melted. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and gumdrops.
Spread into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Using foil, remove fudge from the pan; cut into 1-in. squares. Store at room temperature. Yield: about 3 pounds.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 piece) equals 74 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 11 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, trace protein.
Originally published as Gumdrop Fudge in Quick Cooking November/December 2002, p9
Have a great holiday and remember to Keep It Thimble!