Friday, October 30, 2020

Playmat and a Halloween Craft

It was Fire Monkey's birthday earlier this month and I usually try do a homemade gift for either Christmas or birthday.  This year I had the perfect thing and I didn't want to wait for Christmas.  In his room, he has an IKEA rug with a town on it, great for setting up scenarios with his trucks.  With school being virtual, his "recess" is outside in our yard, alone.  He will frequently take some trucks out with him and play on the grass or on our deck.  I wanted to make him a playmat primarily for outside play, though it will also work as another blanket for him if that's what he wanted.


I had the perfect fabric.  Last February, I spent some time with my dad in Portland, OR and he was within walking distance of a craft thrift store called Scrap.  (You can read about my visit here.)  One of my finds there was a yard of this great building/car fabric--it was a full yard for $3.  According to the selvedge it's Connector Playmats by Deborah Edwards of Northcott.  I wanted it to stand up to being on the ground, so I bought a washable shower curtain (polyester) at a discount store and used that for the backing.  I did simple straight line quilting using the lines already on the fabric.

He loves it!  He's been taking his bin of trucks out on the deck every day.  

Yes, we have enough fire trucks to staff every fire station

Speaking of Fire Monkey, we made a really fun and simple Halloween craft over the weekend.  The idea came from Bernie of Needle and Foot--Mummy Jars!  Only supplies needed are jars, mod podge, cheesecloth, and googly eyes.  (Well, and we used paint brushes for the mod podge.)  We made three mummies.  Yes, the one-eyed mummy was intentional, and made by Fire Monkey.  You can decide if it's a cyclops or a minion.  


Bernie put candles in hers but I decided to try glow sticks instead. I bought a few packages at the dollar store.  I bought the sticks that are pendants for necklaces but I wish I bought the bracelets or necklaces that are bendy because we could have coiled them into the jars better so they didn't show.  But the glow sticks do give a nice glow.  We have been putting the glow sticks in the jars just before we leave for our after-dinner walk.  It's pretty dusky by the time we get home and the mummies glow a little on the porch.


And where do mummies live?  In a pyramid, of course!   At some point after I showed him the mummies on Bernie's page and asked if he wanted to make some, Fire Monkey started talking about mummy houses and wanting to make a mummy house.  Well, as far as my husband was concerned the only possible mummy house is a pyramid, so Husband made one out of cardboard.

I'm not sure if other people can see them when they walk by but we've had them out on the porch.  Walking past neighborhoods and looking at their Halloween decorations has been one of our favorite things to do for the past few weeks.  Thanks to Bernie for a fun idea!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Stitch Reference

Most of the time, I use straight stitch on my machine.  I also satin stitch or blanket stitch when I applique.  I zigzag from time to time.  But it's nice to use the decorative stitches once and while, and when I do, I always forget which ones I like and what they really look like when stitched out.  I've been thinking I need a stitch reference for a while so I finally stopped work on other projects and made one.

At some point a few months ago, I saw a stitch reference guide online.  (I don't remember where.)  It was neat, but it felt overly complicated.  Each stitch was on its own small piece of fabric and they all had to be cut and stabilized and the edges pinked--for 136 stitches, that seemed like a lot of steps and a lot of work. 

I kept mind simple.  I cut muslin into rectangles just slightly smaller than a standard 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper.  I used a micron pen to divide each sheet into 16 rectangles.  I used that same micron pen to write the stitch number in an upper corner, put some stabilizer on the back of the whole sheet, loaded a nice red thread into the machine (Aurifil 2260), and stitched away.


By skipping the button hole stitches, which I have never used, I was able to fit all the stitches on 8 pages.  I placed each page of stitches in a plastic protective sheet, which I happened to already own, and put them in a binder that I already owned.  (photos are without the protective sheets due to glare)  In fact, this whole project was made with supplies I already had.  It took me just a few days worth of sewing time, and I now have a great reference of all my stitches.  I used this when picking stitches on my Funky Flower and I'm hoping that being able to see all of my stitch possibilities stitched out will mean I use them more often.  I realize this is not the most exciting project in terms of blog post, but I'm excited to have it to use.

fancy stitches in action

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Island Batik Ambassador 2021 applications open

Applications for being an Island Batik ambassador for 2021 are now open!  Applications are due November 9th.

Ambassadors create a project each month based on a challenge theme and prompt.  These challenges are a fantastic way to stretch your creativity!  I've really enjoyed being an ambassador these past 2 years and I feel like I have really grown as a creative quilter from the challenges.  I've also been pushed technically, as some of the challenges have lead me to a very specific idea I want to execute and I needed to learn the skills to do them--like figuring out a log cabin layout for Mountain Cabin or making a 3-D bag like Running With Scissors.  

It's hard to pick a favorite from 2020 but it just might be Mountain Cabin
You can find more details about what Island Batik is looking for and their expectations for Ambassadors plus the application form here.  Feel free to ask me any questions!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Buffalo Companion

A few weeks ago, I showed Buffalo Explorer, a donation quilt I made for my guild's 2020 philanthropy project.  I had more of that blue animal print, so I made another quilt that is similar, but not identical, to the first.  I'm calling it Buffalo Companion.

I had already cut the blue animal print into 10" squares, so I just added 2 1/2" strips to each square to make a completed block. This is Kona Tomato and Kona Curry.  (Sounds like lunch!)  I used the same new-to-me quilting motif of a straight-line grid on the diagonal going one way and wavy lines going the opposite diagonal.  I like this motif and will keep playing with it.

The back is a teddy bear print that was in a bag of I Spy scraps I was given by a quilter cleaning out her stash--she saved her novelty prints for me! I used all of the teddy bear fabric except a 3" or so strip that I'll cut up for more scraps.  Always nice to finish off fabrics, or come close. Since the animal print was already cut into 10" squares and I've now made two quilts with it, I gave the rest to another quilter so I could cross this off my list and get it all out of my sewing room :) 

And here are the two together so you can see why I call them companions.  The first Buffalo quilt was on my list of projects for my PhD (Projects Half Done) with Quilting Gail.  I don't know if I get credit for a second finish but I'm glad to have two finished quilts to give to Friendship Trays.  

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Birds & Butterflies

Playing with scarps is always fun but playing playing with someone else's scraps is even more fun!  A woman I knew from Project Linus who lives in an adjacent neighborhood to mine contacted me over the summer.  She was sorting through her fabric and had a bag full of novelty fabrics & scraps that she thought I might be interested in, seeing how much I love novelty fabric.  It was a treasure trove!

My guild's philanthropy project this year is quilts for kids ages 2-5 who get meals as part of Friendship Trays, a local Meals-on-Wheels type organization.   I've been through the bag of scraps from Mary several times and one time, a fun bird print really stood out to me.  I had also been admiring a print with red butterflies.  Turns out there was a second butterfly print, this one on a red background.  I thought all three would go together.  In all cases, I had width of fabric though not a lot.  I figured out how to maximize what I had and get a good sized quilt.  For all three of these fabrics, I used it all!


two butterfly fabrics

Also in the bag was a red print with hearts which I thought would make a nice binding.  I believe I used all of it as well.  So four fabrics used up and one fun kid's quilt! The back is a fabric I had, a flannel ladybug print.  I don't use flannel often but I loved sewing on the binding, the needle would glide right through it! 

backing and binding

My guild met in person for the first time today, outside, in a parking lot.  It was so nice to see people in person--it was most social I've been in 7 months!  We all wore masks and everyone brought camp chairs and the weather was beautiful.  So I was able to turn this in to our president in person. She says we are getting close to our goal of 200 quilts!

bird print from the center

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Funky Flower--Thread Painting with Aurifil & Island Batik

October's Island Batik challenge is Thread Painting with Aurifil. I always think of thread painting as closely related to free motion quilting, and FMQ is a skill I do not possess, so I'd been worried about this challenge. My inspiration came from a sentence in the prompt: "Imagine that fabric is your canvas and Aurifil thread your paint!" After mulling it over for weeks, I decided my "painting" would be in the form of the decorative stitches from my machine. 


I've been wanting to do a large, bold, single flower for a while and I had the perfect fabrics--a 10" stack of Floralicious. 

I rarely do scrappy backgrounds but I decided it would be the perfect look for the bold, funky look I was going for. I pulled the turquoise fabrics from the stack and then got out a stash builder roll that was in most recent ambassador box--I had gotten a pack that was all turquoise strips, so I used those to add to the pretty prints in Floralicious. I wanted the thread painting to also be quilting, so I layered my scrappy turquoise pieced back with Hobbs 80/20 Bleached batting and Island Batik solid white for the back. I quilted in organic wavy lines, hoping the quilting would look like a gentle breeze blowing.

Once I had the background done, it was time to start on the flower. I worked backwards: I knew I wanted the stem to go under the petals and I wanted the leaves under the stem. I had all the pieces made so I laid them out to get a feel for placement, then I started on the leaves. There were no true greens in Floralicious so I used other greens I had in my scrap pile. I picked out a fun leaf-like stitch and just got started!

After the leaves were in place, I moved on to the stem. I recently went to a meeting of the Triad Modern Quilt Guild as a guest when Latifah Saafir was the speaker. She did a demonstration of how she makes bias binding and I was glad to be able to use it so soon after her presentation. I did a total of 3 rows of stitching on the stem.

Now on to the petals! I was really excited about these bright colors. The petals are 2 layers sewn and turned inside out. At one point I was considering only partially stitching them to add a 3D element but I decided that would detract from the decorative thread work so I ditched that idea, but had already prepared all the petals. I also didn't really want the look of raw edge applique for this project. Here is the back after the first 6 petals have been stitched.

For each petal, I picked stitches and thread color when I got to it, I did not have an overall plan. I just played! And it was grand! I used Aurifil 2000 in the bobbin for most of it, though there two places where I felt I needed a darker bobbin thread to keep the light thread from showing on the top. When I did the wavy line quilting before adding any of the flower on top, I used 1148. I used a total of 16 different Aurifil colors in the decorative stitching, for a total of 18 different threads used. All were 50 weight except for one 28 weight, because that's what I had, and monofilament in smoke which I used to attach the flower center before adding the bright yellow flower stitch on top. Ready for that list of threads? 2605, 2884, 1231, 2735, 2783, 2810, 2245, 1243, 2520, 5006, 2530, 2260, 1104, 2130 (28 wt), 2134. 


I used a Schmetx Microtex Chrome needle for most of the stitching, though I did use a Schmetz top-stitch needle for some of the decorative stitching. 

Materials in this project were provided to me by Island Batik, Aurifil, Schmetz, and Hobbs.

Our prompt specified that finished projects were to be larger than 24" x 24". Twenty-four inches square is 576 square inches. After finishing the flower, I trimmed the edges to make more of a rectangle than a square. My finished project is 21" x 34" which is 714 square inches. I'm hoping that qualifies!

I was torn on what to use for binding. I tried several things, including the green of the stem and some of the background fabric. I didn't like them. In the end, I used a 10" strip from each of the 12 fabrics used in the petals. And the binding came out exact. Seriously. Exact. I did use a straight join instead of the typical diagonal join, partly because I only had 10" of each fabric and partly because I knew this would be a seasonal wall hanging that would not get much wear and tear. I've been close on binding before but never been exact like that!

I enjoyed using
Island Batik Floralicious as my canvas and Aurifil thread as my paints! I like the decorative stitches, and I like that you can see some from a distance and others you need to be standing in front of it. I like to hang seasonal quilts on my door and I am very excited to use this next summer. I started calling it Funky Flower and the name has stuck. My Funky Flower makes me smile every time I see it.




Sunday, October 4, 2020

October OMG

Another month, another monthly goal!  Today we put together our new couches.  I like them quite a bit but they need more throw pillows.  I was making us a menagerie of animal cushions but I stalled out.  I have two paper piecing patterns enlarged and ready to go, both the giraffe and the lion from the zoo animals paper piecing series by Kristy of Quiet Play. My goal for October is to make the giraffe pillow.  This will be a double whammy, as the pillow is also on my list of projects for my PhD, Projects Half Done, with Quilting Gail.


The Current Menagerie

I'm linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts for her One Monthly Goal linky party.

September OMG finish link-up is open!