Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another New Beginning

Another chance to begin anew.

I don't have a need for resolutions this new year, so I thought about some other way to challenge myself.  There it is...that word...challenge.

I am challenge challenged.  Every time I challenge myself to a long term or ongoing project, I fail.  So I've given this some thought deciding it must be something that I know I can accomplish if I really want to.  My problem is that I hate having to sew something that I don't particularly want to sew at any given time.  So I've tried to think of a project that I want to sew and should be able to accomplish without the feeling of the dread of a time frame and deadline.

This brought to mind all the techniques and works of others that I've collected in my favorites in my flickr account.  There are so many that I want to try or just copy (for shame).  Then I thought I could use some decorative accent pillows around the place.  So this is my challenge for myself for this new year.

A Pillow a Month Challenge
 12 pillow covers by the end of 2012.  This is a way for me to play with some of those favorites ideas, without having to make a large quilt or just another wall hanging.  Now that I've made this decision, I know that it has to be reasonable for me to accomplish.  So, I'm not limiting myself to exactly one pillow per month.  Just that I will make enough pillows as there are months in the year. 

I'm very fearful that this challenge too will be unsuccessful at some point, but I'll begin with a very positive attitude that this will be done!  As with all new projects, it's an excited attitude to begin with.  Pillow #1 is now underway!  I thought 18" would be a good size.  I'm not so sure now, but this first one will be that size.  I think I'll probably work with a variety of sizes. 

I'll be back soon with a finished pillow to share my enthusiastic effort to begin anew!  If you like the idea and would be interested in joining me in this challenge, let me know and I'll figure out how to link your pillows with my pillow posts.  I'm sure if I had "partners-in-crime" for this challenge I'd have a much better chance at success

I'm off to ring in the new year with my sewing machine...because you forgot to invite me to your wild New Year's Eve party!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year!


I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous 2012.
Have fun ringing in the new year, but be safe!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas

Please help yourself to a Kiss

A mug rug I made last year.  I thought I'd use it now to offer you, my fabulous followers, a little chocolate treat and to wish you all a very Merry ChristmasThank you all for sharing and making this past year a real treat for me!

I think I hear some of you saying "I want to see the rest of that mug rug" cause that's what you'd hear me saying if this was your post.  So, here it is.

From Nancy Halverson's book titled 'I Believe'

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Office Supplies Tote

Part of the Christmas gift request is for this:

Now, I love office supplies, so that was pretty fun to shop for.  But the funner part of the gift request was for a tote to carry them all in.  And this is what I came up with for that portion of the gift:

The request was for colorful and not too big.
It measures approx. 8"high, 9-1/2"wide, 4"deep.  (I hope that isn't too big)

I think this clear vinyl zippered pocket will be a fun surprise.

Everything fits!

This was the most unexpected gift wish I would ever have expected.
I did not use a pattern.  I just made the bag up as I went along. 

A lot of experimental guesswork was involved with it's creation.
I sure did have a fun time with it though.

There was a time I would never have considered making something like this without a pattern.  I guess I'm getting brave in my old age or maybe it's just blind wreckless crazy...yeah, probably the later.

Go crazy!  It's fun!

Linked to Handmade Christmas Linky Party with Melissa at The Polkadot Chair Blog.  There's a lot of inspiration in that linking party...go check it out!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Tree Skirt

**No Math Required!**

I just knew all those years ago that math was NOT going to help me get through life.  (ok, just kidding)  But! really did not come in handy while I was designing this tree skirt.  Every calculation along with logic said NO, this will not work out.

Yet, here it is again! 

This one I made from the collection, Countdown to Christmas.  I think that's such a fun Christmas fabric collection.  The one in my tutorial went to my daughter, so this one is for me. 

Ho Ho Ho!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tutorial: Christmas Tree Skirt

Annie's Christmas Tree Skirt

Christmas Tree Skirt
how to:

To make this very easy but 'complicated looking' tree skirt, you will need this wedge ruler and 140 charm squares.

This one is by Omnigrid and is a 9 degree Circle Wedge. I've had it forever.

I made this tree skirt from 4 charm packs of Jovial that had 42 squares each.

Charms packs come in a variety of counts, so that will determine the number of packs you will need.

Arrange your squares in columns of 5 squares each. You need a total of 28 columns. Play with them until you have an arrangement that is pleasing to your eye.

Stitch each of the 28 columns into strips of the 5 squares top to bottom. 1/4" seam allowances throughout. Press your seams all in the same direction for all strips. All pressed toward the top or all toward the doesn't matter which direction you choose, just press them all the same direction. Keep them in your arranged order as you sew and press them. You just won't believe how quickly this will be completed.

Now for cutting. Take your first strip and place the wedge ruler aligned with the bottom of the strip ...

and aligned at the right hand edge of your strip.
Left handers can do the opposite, it won't matter, just cut them all the same way each time.

This wedge ruler will be about 3/4" shorter than your strip. When you rotary cut along the wedge just continue the cut to the edge of the strip without moving the ruler. It will work did for me every time. Don't stop at the end of the ruler to think about it, just continue the cut until you are off the fabric strip.

If possible, cut one side and walk around to cut the other side without moving the ruler. It's not necessary to cut the wedge this way, but it's quicker if you don't have to turn the fabric and re-align the ruler for the second cut.  For the second cut you will be starting with the narrow end that doesn't reach the edge of your fabric. I aligned my cutter with the ruler about 3" from the end and cut pulling backwards to the end of the fabric. Then realign your cutter in that cut to cut the rest of the wedge as normal.

If you trim your strip at the end of the wedge ruler, nothing bad will happen.  You will simply have a larger opening when your strips are all sewn together in a circle.  In the end I trim my opening larger anyway, but it is quicker to do it in the end than it is to trim every single strip wedge as I go.

You will now have these slices from your strip.

You will discard the slice on the right (the one with the very pointy tip) to your scrap collection.

The slice on the left will be flipped so that both wide ends are adjacent as shown below. This is how they will be sewn together and you will note that every other wedge now has the seams pressed in opposite directions so they can be butted when the wedges are sewn, huh?

As you get the wedges cut, keep the wider wedges in the order you arranged them in.  You'll need to find a layout that again is pleasing to your eye that includes the narrower wedges between the wider ones.

Begin sewing a wide wedge to a narrow wedge.

Press your seams toward the wide wedge. This will help avoid bulk in the center at the narrow tips, because the narrow tips will disappear to nothing.

Then sew all your wedges together.

Half way together...

Full circle...yeah! Do not sew the very last seam where the ends of your circle meet.

You will only use 27 of your 28 wide wedges, and you will use all 28 of your narrow wedges. Your tree skirt will meet at two narrow wedges which is where you will leave your opening.  You probably started sewing your wedges together beginning with a wide wedge, so you will need to add your last narrow wedge to the beginning of your circle.

This tree skirt has no batting. I didn't really want the thickness nor stiffness of a batted quilt. I wanted a very drapable skirt. I considered adding a layer of muslin inside, but finally decided on just the pieced top and a backing.

You can purchase extra wide fabric for a whole un-pieced back. I just went with one and three quarters (1-3/4) yards of a 44-45" wide coordinating fabric and pieced the section that extended past the width of the skirt.

Just like you do with layering a quilt with batting, layer the fabrics with wrong sides together and pin baste. It doesn't really show in the photo but this tree skirt is loaded with safety pins. Cut a slit in the backing fabric where you have left the circle open. Then trim the excess backing fabric away following the outside edge of your pieced top. You can trim the inside circle as well or wait if you decide you want the center opening larger.

I did want the center opening larger so I traced around a whipped topping lid. It seems like a good size.

Because the skirt could now be 'stretchable' as you continue to work with it, I suggest that you stay-stitch the raw edges at about an 1/8 inch from the edge all the way around the skirt.

I didn't want the skirt to be like a bubble with the front and back floating separately. I did faux quilting with stitch in the ditch along the length of each wedge.

In the above photo you see horizontal top stitching. I removed that didn't look good...and went with the stitch in the ditch along the lengths of the wedges instead.

Then I added a narrow binding.
The binding is cut on the straight of grain.  It is NOT on the bias.

All done!

This tree skirt is an early gift, so I stamped and stitched a tag for it.

Yeah! another gift crossed off the list!

Alternative finishing options:
You can easily add batting for a traditional quilted skirt. You could also lay the top and backing right sides together to stitch around the outside leaving an opening and turn the skirt right side out for enclosed seams. You wouldn't need all that pin basting for that. You could also add lace or a ruffle to the outer edge if you so desire.

As well, this tree skirt can be made for your smaller holiday trees...your Easter egg tree, your creepy Halloween tree, even that wedding money tree.  Just cut your wedges from a shorter charm strip and using the narrower end of the wedge.

Design Disclosure Statement:
As far as I know this is my own design. I don't think anyone would publish a mathematically incorrect pattern design. Mathematically incorrect because the narrow wedge has one angled side while the other side is straight. I just hoped they would all go in a circle the way I wanted them to and I was so not disappointed.

As with any of my tutorials that you might give a try, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact me. I'd be more than happy to help you.

There are so many possibilities for fabric arrangements for this skirt that I'd love to see yours when you have it together...seriously, I would.

Have fun, Annie

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Fabric Postcards

Christmas Greetings

I finally seem to have had time to sew several Christmas greetings as fabric postcards.  Every year I have big plans and every year I make all of one.  Once I got two made.

This year I have one for everyone on my "special card" list.  You know the ones...those who actually appreciate not only receiving your Christmas card, but appreciate your hand crafted greetings.

I have nine done this year!  Hurray!

Only three designs, but I thought that was pretty good for me. Sometimes I struggle with the small size blank slate and other times I get more ideas than I can apply. You wouldn't think a Christmas theme would be a struggle, but for some reason it was. I'll get plenty of ideas once it's too late to send any more. Ain't that always the way!

JOY Snowman

My favorite Nancy Halverson snowman on my favorite fabric background.

With bells on his toes...
(thank you so much Carol for sending me that binding fabric!)
Well, I wish I could blame old age for not sewing one of his legs, but shit like that happens every now and again. After having a personal but not so quiet hissy fit about it, I thought of my other dear friend Samm who would look for the bright side of this failure.  It can only mean one thing.....that when I become famous this card will be quite valuable with it's stitching flaw...right? 

Wishing you a good mail day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It Was Ugly!

Ok, individually the pieces in this charm pack weren't "all" ugly (I do like a lot of the batiks that are available now)...but together and as a charm pack, I would not have chosen it ... and I didn't. 

I received it as an extra in a swap.  See, I'm not the only one wanted to make it go away.  And I have to admit my first thought was to send it off again to someone else in a swap as an extra.  Well, I couldn't do that.

So it's been kicking around here and it's been in the back of my mind since late last Spring.  I've never considered making a quilt for my's just not something that would ever make his list of wants.  BUT, I've decided that it could make up into a nice man-quilt.  Even if he doesn't end up being the man that gets it.  We'll see.

So I've chosen a couple of fabrics to sew with the charm pack and I've decided on a design, and that's what I've been working on between Christmas projects.

And I'm thinking it's not so ugly anymore.  The blocks are going together quickly and I'm rather excited about how it's all coming together and how it's starting to look.  I have a ways to go yet.  This is about a third of the blocks that I need.

I'm happy to be working on another throw quilt again (this will be only #5 for me) rather than just small projects.  It makes for a happy mix of stitching therapy!  More progress to come later. 

I hope you are all accomplishing all the Christmas sewing projects you have on your list.  I'm finished with my Christmas sewing list ... unless I see something inspiring on some of the holiday blog hops or on your blog that I think I just have to stitch up right away!

Doing my best to make the season jolly!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

To Prewash or Not

Is it personal preference to prewash fabric prior to use in a project, or is it necessary?

This question has been a topic of discussion and debate forever.  From what I've read, the answer is more personal preference.  More times than not I read so many answers informing us that quality fabrics purchased at quality quilt shops will not have a problem with fabric dyes bleeding when laundered.  If you choose to believe that, well, that is your choice.

This is a quality cut of fabric purchased at a long established quality quilt shop.  It's also the reason why I always prewash my fabrics.

I had already drained the basin a couple of times before I thought to take a photograph.  I have serious doubts that color catcher sheets would be able to save all my hard work in a project from this piece of gorgeous red fabric.  It took me half a day and over night until the dye stopped bleeding.  (Dark blues can be as much a problem as reds can be.)

It doesn't happen to every red fabric but how are you going to know when it will bleed and when it won't.  There's only two ways to find out...the hard way (washing your already completed project) or by prewashing.

I just don't think the risk is worth not prewashing fabric. So, for me, I see prewashing as necessary.

I'm off to wash some more new fabric pieces.
Happy stitching to you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rubber Stamping Laundry Test

I've done a Rubber Stamping
Laundry Test

I've stamped with rubber stamps on fabric for some of my small projects.  I've used StazOn ink for this technique even though it states on the ink pad that it is NOT for fabric.  It is a permanent ink and has not washed out or run when I have dampened it (usually to remove the purple air soluble ink quickly). 

The projects I have stamped on have not been ones that will ever be washed (fabric postcards) and ones that would seldom, if ever, be washed (wall hangings).  Because I've been questioned about the permanency of the ink on fabric and during laundering, I've stamped a test piece of muslin and laundered it 6 times.

This piece is my original stamping.

This piece is after the 1st washing in a regular heavy duty laundering.

This piece is after the 6th washing in regular heavy duty laundering and about three times with a good dose of stain remover added to the load.

It definitely has faded some.  Mostly with the first wash.  There isn't much noticeable difference from the first wash to the 6th wash.
I know that it's rather difficult to photograph all these tests on different days with a variety of lighting although I placed them always in the same place and used an on camera flash.  The facts are still visible in the stamping in any case.

For the projects that I use this technique on, I'm completely satisfied with the results that this ink is waterproof on fabric.  I wanted to know that when I mailed my fabric postcards and they got wet from rain, or what have you, that the ink wouldn't run. 

I will say that I have heard that VersaMark Ink is better on fabric.  I don't know that this is true, and I was hoping to have been able to get a pad of this ink to test it with the StazOn, but I have not found it locally yet.  However, I will find it and I will test it.

In the meantime, for me, StazOn ink works perfectly for my purposes.

Still happily stamping along,