Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Obi-Inspired Hot and Cold Packs

Obi wrap 2

This post has been a long time coming. I bought One-Yard Wonders a while ago, but this is the only project I've made from it yet. But I've made this project three times! The first, pictured above, was for a birthday in early January.

obi wraps for Sandy and me

The other two, both made at once, were for an early February birthday (the Hope Valley one) and for me (the repro one--of course!). I filled all three of them with flax seed, and I can tell you that mine gets pretty hot pretty quickly and stays that way for quite a while. The ones I gave as gifts were very well received.

Obi wrap back

The best part about these (other than the fact that they're quick to make and only require one yard of fabric)? You wear them! It is such a simple thing but makes such a difference! The book is pretty good and comprehensive. I have plans to make a couple more things for sure, plus it's already proven itself to be a great go-to for quick gifts, so I'm sure I'll be spending more time with it in the future.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Elmore, the littler elephant

Elmore for Julie 1
Remember Eloise, the larger elephant, I wrote about here? Well, this is the mini version of the same pattern (though not too mini--he's about 9" tall when seated). I was afraid to try this smaller elephant first because I was worried that the curves would be too tricky to handle on a smaller scale. I am pleased to tell you, dear reader, that I had no problems!

Elmore for Julie 3
In fact, I just might believe that Elmore is even cuter than Eloise, if that's at all possible! He was made as a baby shower gift for my co-worker. I used the same lovely corduroys as with Eloise. The main difference is that I did a hand blanket-stitch to attach brown felt circles for the eyes instead of sewing on buttons (baby safety, you know).

baby shower gift for Julie 2
To complete the gift I paired him with these booties from Little Stitches for Little Ones which I've already made and blogged about a couple of times. A pretty good pairing, if I do say so myself!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Eloise the elephant

Eloise 1
Still in softie-making mode here, and still behind in my posting. It's been a rough week, as I took a nasty fall last Friday and emerged lucky to not have broken my nose or wrist, but still looking (and feeling) pretty awful. Not much crafting has happened lately, but I'm still catching up on posts for pictures taken last month. Seems like I just can't keep up, much less get ahead...

Eloise 3
But back to Eloise. Isn't she cute? This is a pattern from Indygo Junction, and Eloise was made as a sample for my LQS. The fabrics are super soft corduroys from Michael Miller. They were SO easy to work with! And the result is a soft yet textured stuffed animal. What's not to love?

Eloise back
The pattern comes in two sizes. I chose to make the larger elephant because I was worried about the curves being fussy in the smaller size (more on that in a future post), but I had no issues, not even with the curves in the sculpted trunk. And this elephant is big. The pattern says 18" high, which I don't think includes the limbs.

Eloise limbs
I'm not a huge fan of how the limbs go together--there's a bit of hand-sewing, and the stitching through all layers before stuffing leaves the limbs floppy. I guess I prefer a more sculptural softie, but I understand the motivation to make one easier for little arms to get around. In all, I really liked making this elephant and if I hadn't committed to giving her away, she'd still be at my house!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tethered Threads: January

Tethered Threads Jan blocks
These are the blocks I made for Rebecca for the January edition of my Tethered Threads quilting block party. All of her fabrics are the new Heather Bailey Nicey Jane, and they sure are nice! Rebecca just gave us freedom to do whatever, so I did some more improv piecing and pretty much like what I came up with.

Tethered Threads Jan block 1
I think I was thinking "garden" with this first block. I wanted to let some of the larger prints do their thing, like that green one and the pink and orange one on the far right. My original plan was to not use the pink in the border on the left and bottom and have the corners of the squares touch, but I went a little too big on that bottom left square and didn't want to chop anything off, so did a little more improv to make this work.

Tethered Threads Jan block 2
This block just kinda came together organically as well. I just wanted to continue using up all the small pieces I had, so once I pieced the log cabin blocks, I just went to town. I really liked using these fabrics and the freshness that results from all of them together. I didn't add anything of my own to these blocks and used up every last thread that Rebecca sent, too! There are more seams here than I typically work with, but I still think the overall effect is nice.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hunter's Star quilt for me

Hunter's Star
I am still getting to know Gloria, getting comfortable with her. So far, so good (knock on wood), but we haven't spent much time together yet, and I will admit I'm still pretty timid. I also have a number of projects to catch up on from when I was exclusively using my Brother, and this is one of them.

Hunter's Star on wall
This was my first Hunter's Star quilt, started in a class and then left to languish through the holidays while I finished these other quilts. I wrapped it up in late December/early January, and it now hangs near my crafting station in our second bedroom (referred to in our house as the "rec room").

Hunter's Star front and back
I quilted this one in the same way I quilted the other two, minus the metallic thread--I just used a white piecing thread instead. I love the way it echoes the star shape inside and out, and it looks cool from the back, too.

Hunter's Star detail 2
So, the bottom line on these quilts: The pattern is a little fussy, yet forgiving. Piecing the stars into the border makes a huge difference--it's a lot of extra work, but I think it looks awesome. The overall result is impressive (if I do say so myself) and worth the effort.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Gloria 1
I'm interrupting my normal crafting blogging to introduce my newest acquisition (and hopefully my new BFF): Gloria Jem. She is a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 830 that I just purchased on Saturday (with a one-year interest-free payment plan because, hey, this chick's expensive!)

Gloria - ten inches
The details:
  • She comes with a glorious (hence her name) 10" of quilting space to the right of the needle. This was the key feature in my decision. My preference was for a mechanical machine, but there's no way to get that long arm space without going computerized.
  • Needle up/down, which means I never have to touch the handwheel
  • Fixed stitch button for stopping and starting--haven't used this one yet but have been chaining pieces with ease
  • Lights (2!!) that work! (the light on my Brother shorted out LONG ago)
  • Bobbin winder that works! (the plastic bobbin winder snapped off my Brother even longer ago)
  • All-metal parts inside. I'm hoping this will = workhorse!
  • Drop-in bobbin. I have this on my Brother and I LOVE it. Life-changing, I tell ya.
  • Automatic needle-threader. Same thing: Have it on the Brother, LOVE it.
  • Speed control. I'm hoping that once I get more comfortable I can just cruise.
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure. Could come in handy with knits and other fussy things.
  • All kinds of other things I'll never use, like 100+ stitches, an alphabet, 10 stitch memories...
  • And the best thing: Exclusive Sensor System (ESS). With needle down, the presser foot lifts slightly every time you stop (perfect for pivoting!) With needle up, the presser foot stays down. That's the setting I've been using for my piecing, but I know the needle down, presser foot lift will be amazing once I quilt with this. It's similar to a knee-lift, but completely hands (and knees) free!
Of course, today I did some Google-ing and found a lot of negative reviews of this machine. A lot. I think the only thing I spent more $$ on, ever, was my iMac. So these negative reviews are making me pretty anxious. So far I've only had two problems with Gloria: one is a little bit of thread nesting coming, surprisingly, from the top thread but occurring on the underside of the fabric. Both times I knew immediately by the sound and both times I kept re-inserting the bobbin because it just seemed like that would be the problem, but the problem wasn't fixed until I rethreaded the top thread. Not sure exactly what brings that on, as the first time happened after the machine was moved from the store up to my apartment and the second happened in the middle of some alphabet embroidery (gotta try out the bells and whistles, you know). I am keeping an eye on it.

The second issue I've been having is more bizarre but less of a problem. I've noticed after stitching (and I've been piecing quilt blocks) that occasionally on the bobbin side there will be a tiny knot of the top thread, like two stitches went down in the same place, though nothing is evident from the top of the seam and it's a tiny little bump on the bottom of the seam. This doesn't happen after sewing together intersections, or after stopping and restarting the same seam. I haven't been able to figure out what makes it happen, just that sometimes it'll happen twice 3" apart and other times I can sew a 50" seam and not notice anything. So, it's a little odd, and I wonder if it has to do with the needle; I've only been using the one that came in the machine and should probably swap that out for one of my trusty Schmetz.

Gloria on
Still, barring any major potential issues, I think choosing the HV Sapphire 830 was the right thing for me. I wanted to buy from a dealer, and the dealer closest and most easily accessible to me sells Husqvarna Vikings and Pfaffs. Of course I tried the Pfaff, and of course I loved the IDT, but the price was just way out of my budget. Not that Gloria was *in* my budget, but the Pfaffs were too far beyond even Gloria. My dealer assured me that there are rarely problems with the computerized portion of these machines, which was my main concern. The machine came with a warranty, of course, and the dealer was extremely knowledgeable, available, and even said there would be classes coming up for people who had recently purchased this machine (because apparently there have been a lot of people buying it lately). So I have a support system.

The bottom line? This was a big investment for me, both money-wise and in myself as a crafter. I am making a commitment to sewing and to quilting. It's a big deal, and I've been a little nervous around Gloria because I realize the momentous weight of this decision. It's going to take time to get used to her, but she's worth it. I plan on making this work and having her for a long long time.