Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gifted: another hippo

Sadie hippo face
I loved my first hippo so much that I knew I wanted to make more. As this one was coming together, my friend Sadie's birthday was coming up, so it ended up going to her.

Sadie hippo butt
As usually happens, this hippo turned out a little better than the last. For one, the butt is not nearly so crooked! There was something not as great about this one, though. The last one was made using a heavier weight pants fabric, whereas this is regular quilting cotton. I used Poly-Fil for both, but on this one fibers started poking through the weave. I don't think I overstuffed, but maybe the fabric is pulled too tight? Or maybe the weave is too loose? Or maybe I got a pokier batch of Poly-Fil than usual? (That is actually my leading hypothesis, if you can believe it.) Anyone else have issues like this?

Sadie hippo 1
Sadie said she really likes it, though it was promptly "adopted" by their 2+ year old son, who says, "This is Mommy's. I can just play with it."

And thus ends September! I don't think I'm ready for October yet, but I don't think I have a choice...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

S.T.U.D. September mini-quilt received

STUD Sept rec'd
At long last, I am posting about the lovely mini-quilt I received from JGmehlin for STUD's September anniversary-themed swap. It's a trip around the world with a pieced border. Fabulous, right?? And it's especially appropriate because Julie was in Italy when we started the swap and now is back in the US.

STUD Sept rec'd back detail
Here's a detail shot of the back. Julie used this great map fabric for the back and bind, and embroidered a dashed line from her home in Italy to her home in the US. It's so perfect!

STUD Sept rec'd + goodies
And as if that weren't enough, here's a picture of the quilt with all the goodies that came with it: thread, a ruler, and a bunch of tea things! I am a tea fiend, so it's always great to get those treats. Especially since I've come to realize that I'm a tea drinker in a coffee drinker's world.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sent: September STUD mini-quilt

STUD Sept sent 1

I've just heard from my partner that the mini-quilt I made and sent for STUD's September "anniversary" swap has been received, so here it is! I was inspired by the traditional one-year anniversary gift of paper to try some English paper-pieced hexagons. For the layout, I echoed my first STUD mini-quilt from September 2008, seen here.

STUD Sept sent detail

Here's a detail of my favorite flower. The fabrics in this were Robert Kaufmann repros sent to me in a previous swap and some Connecting Threads Mama's Cottons repros I bought for my birthday. I really liked making these hexagons, even though they did take quite a while. I then did a loose applique to attach the hexagons to the pieced background, then quilted just inside the applique to ensure it was attached. I quilted the background in my loopy, scribbly stipple. I really like a lot of things about this mini, so I'm happy with how it turned out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In progress: YBR quilting

YBR circles quilting 5
I've yet to finish hand-stitching the binding on these quilts, but I've completed the quilting and the binding is ON! I wasn't sure how to quilt them; I've done angular quilting and curlicue quilting on other Yellow Brick Road quilts before, but neither of those patterns seemed right for these. I brought the tops to my LQS, and that's where the circles idea came in.

YBR circles quilting 2
I traced plates and bowls of different sizes onto the quilts and quilted with my walking foot, which did a nice job around the curves. I used the biggest plate first and quilted one quilt, then tried to replicate it on the second quilt. It took me a couple of hours to get both of them quilted, but I like how they turned out, and they're both really similar to each other, so I'm happy about that.

YBR circles quilting 3
In the border, I traced my pincushion once per row and once in each corner, then connected them with diagonal lines. I free-motion quilted these. The circles are a lot more wonky than the ones on the top, but I do like the way the border echoes the design. And it's good to add a *little* wonkiness, right? Now all that's left is the hand-stitching, which I hope to finish in the next week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Softie menagerie

pig front
Not sure if two more animals counts as a "menagerie," but I'm going with it. These animals are the rest of JJ's birthday present, both made from clothes she has shrunk out of due to her awesome weight loss! This pig was made from her favorite pink shorts, which were super soft. I used the pattern from the Martha Stewart Christmas 2008 issue. I'm not sure why the lamb I made using a pattern from the same issue turned out awesome and this pig came out so wonky, but there it is. It's silly because the pig's legs are so skinny they can't really hold it up! And the snout came out really pointy for some reason. Still, I like it. It's got personality, right?? I had to do a lot of hand-stitching on this, like on the ears, because I had a hard time turning things inside-out that I had machine-stitched.

JJ elephant 2
This elephant was made from a lightweight cotton shirt of JJ's. The pattern is "Pull-Along Nellie" from the book Toys to Sew, which I love. Again, not sure why this guy came out so wonky. There are more photos on my Flickr page; for whatever reason, his butt is really pointy! I made the tail out of a knotted length of twill tape, and I used felt for the bottoms of the legs.

So, not the most successful batch of crafting I've done, but the hippo turned out great, and I think the wonkiness of these other two critters just adds to their personality. Right?!? Or maybe I just get sentimental and can't bear throwing away things I've spent time working on... Whatever the case, these got me back in softie-making mode, and I have a bunch more hippos I'm working on, so stay tuned for pictures. First, though, I have some quilts to finish...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gifted: hippo

hippo on SFQ 1
Here's the birthday present I alluded to previously: a stuffed hippo! Not just a stuffed hippo, though. This hippo was made for my friend JJ who has lost over 40 pounds! The hippo is made out of her favorite pair of chinos, which she shrunk out of and can't wear again. She asked me to make her a softie out of them, and I was happy to oblige. 

hippo on SFQ 3
The fabric is fabulous. It's a little heavy, but really soft and wasn't too hard to work with. Finding a pattern proved to be difficult. I was at the point of trying to design my own when I found myself at the library looking at a bunch of vintage books on making stuffed animals! Lucky me, one had a hippo in it--the book is Soft Toys to Sew by Family Circle Books, but looks like it was recently reissued as Creative Soft Toys to Sew by Sally Milner. Check out the cover here--the hippo from the pattern is that green felt creature on the bottom left. 

hippo butt 2
I didn't really change the pattern pieces, but I moved stuff around a lot. I did button eyes instead of making stuffed eyeballs (which were not cute on the original), I folded the ears in half and pieced them in to the head (instead of appliquéing them on), I made a completely different tail, and the biggest thing I did was to sew inner seams instead of exposed seams with a zigzag stitch. I am loving the Denyse Schmidt plaid accents on this guy! They were perfect. 

hippo on SFQ 3
It was hard to give this guy away. He is so soft and has so much personality, even though his butt is a little crooked. So, yeah, I fell in love. I am making more, and hope to be able to keep one! 

I gave JJ a couple of other softies, too, so look for them in an upcoming post. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Finished: Scrappy Friendship Quilt

SFQ done 1
My Scrappy Friendship Quilt is completely finished! I think I put the last stitch in the binding on 9/4. Since then, the quilt has been washed, dried, and is quickly becoming much-loved. 

SFQ quilting detail 1
I like how the free-motion curlicues blend in to a lot of the dark fabrics. The quilting is definitely there, but it doesn't pull away from everything else that's going on in the quilt (and there is a lot). It's kind of like an "I spy" quilt in a way--just seeing that little bit of fabric reminds me of the project(s) I used it in. 

SFQ front and back
Everything came from my stash except for the backing, which is this fabulous Heather Bailey print. 

SFQ scrappy binding
Even the binding on this quilt is scrappy! I always save whatever is left over after a quilt, so that's where this binding came from. I was surprised I had so much! This 84" square quilt didn't make as big of a dent in my binding stash as I thought... 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Replacement apron

zig zag apron front
Remember this horrendous craft fail? And how the only way to deal was to make a new and cute apron? Done and done! I actually spent about a month and a half working on this, off and on. I finished it mid-August but forgot to take pictures for whatever reason, so here we are! The pattern is from the Spring 2009 issue of Stitch magazine (buy it! love it!). The instructions were clear, the pattern pieces fit together, the apron is cute and functional... A definite improvement on my previous apron! 

I followed the pattern pretty exactly, except I used a machine zig zag stitch for the appliqué instead of doing it by hand, and I omitted the appliquéd bubbles, too. I don't mind handwork, but I have plenty to do already, and after my last spectacular failure, I didn't want to invest a ton of time into this if it wasn't going to work out. 

zig zag apron back
Possibly the best thing about this apron is how it wraps around the sides. And how the ties criss-cross in the back, come through button holes, and tie in the front. It's cute, it flares like a skirt, and it offers full-coverage for hip-wiping. When I cook, I'm a wiper. 

So, this is the last of my August finishes (other than some birthday stuff I already hinted at and can show you next week). I am making good progress on some WIP quilts and hope to have three finishes this month, plus my minis for the swap. I already have one done, so two more + two minis to go. Stay tuned! 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some progress

YBR labels in progress
Happy September! I was just looking over my posts and realized that I only posted 6 entries in August, compared to 8-10 every other month of the year. Sheesh. I'm not really sure what happened there. There was some traveling, and me being sick (I still am coughing a bit--I wish this bronchitis would just let go!), but I'm not sure why I don't have more to show. Maybe it's just that I've been plugging away at things, like the project above. That's my in-progress labels for the Yellow Brick Road quilts my gramma and I pieced back in June. Yes, June. I have just finished the labels, so need to attach them, piece the backing, sandwich the quilts, quilt, and bind. Between those two and the scrappy quilt I'm still hand-stitching (3 sides down! 1 to go!) I hope to have 3 quilts completed this month! 

hippo sneak peek
I finished my replacement apron a few weeks ago, but have yet to photograph it. One thing I have finished but can't show you is a special little project, pictured above. A friend of mine has a birthday coming up. She has also lost over 40 pounds recently! So, she asked me to make her a softie out of her favorite chinos: a hippo. Full reveal to come in a couple of weeks, after she's seen the little guy. I must say, though, that I have fallen in love with him! And I am back on a little train of softie-making, so expect to see more soon.