Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day: Quilter's Edition

I don't know about all the other mommies I know, but I had THE MOST WONDERFUL Mother's Day courtesy of my wonderful husband and our little minions. I got my favorite breakfast (pancakes!!!) made and ready for me when I was done sleeping in. I got some beautiful flowers, and I also got some cards with options for the day's activities. My options were:
  1. Go to the aquarium.
  2. Go to a NEW quilt shop.
Hmm... I absolutely LOVE the aquarium. Probably more than the average person. I love the aquarium like children love the aquarium. Yes, that's it. I'm a huge woman-child when it comes to going to the aquarium. But the quilt shop... I felt selfish picking that one, but Scott actually anticipated I'd pick that one and bought me some Swedish fish (which I also love) so I could get my own kind of aquarium experience. I suppose he knows me better than I think.

QUILT SHOP!!! He took me to the Fabric Shack in Waynesville, OH, and it was the most amazing fabric experience I've ever had in my life. We were there for a couple hours, I think, but I made my seemingly-selfish outing about my kids. What better way to spend Mother's Day than to start a quilt for your firstborn? Yay! It's not about me, anymore!

The people there were amazing! This is the stash I ended up with before I left. I think most of it's Moda fabric, which is my new favorite. The brown deer on the chartreuse are my favorite of this lot. Oh, and the RVs. They're pretty awesome, too. :)
I told myself I didn't want the quilt to be too 'baby', but it ended up a little 'kiddy' anyway. I don't care. I love it! (If you don't know the song by Icona Pop, it's one of Joey's favorite songs, and I just sang that as I typed it.)

Since I bought the fabric yesterday, I have completed my very first quilt block. Ever. And it is glorious.
So out of this seemingly selfish quilt shop outing for Mother's Day, came an awesome quilt block that I made and am immensely proud of. And it's all for Joey. (Rosie will get hers in time; no worries.)

Happy Mother's Day to me!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Make Your Own Rubber Stamp!

This is a really fun and easy project (depending on your stamp design, I suppose) that will set apart your crafts from everybody else's. Seriously... who else will have this stamp?!

Customizing Your Own Stamp

*image to transfer (make sure it's flipped horizontally so it will be the right way when you stamp it)
*linocut or a large eraser (whatever fits your image; Michael's sells linocut!)
*rubber cement
*cutting tools

1. Use the rubber cement to adhere your image to the linocut block. Please make sure your image is flipped horizontally! I made this mistake the first time I did it, and wanted to kick myself when I went to check the proof. :) Argghhh!

2. Know which part of the image you want to be the stamp. I wanted Ohio to be the stamp so I would cut all the linocut away except the state of Ohio. Use your sharpest tool to cut around the image's outline so you can start cutting away the larger portions of what you don't want.

NOTE: If you wanted the stamp to be the outline around the state of Ohio, you would cut away the state itself.

I also wanted the heart to be an outline so I took a finer tool and then traced around the outline of the heart. I then used a small, curved tool to cut out the inside of the heart at an angle so I didn't weaken my state outline.

3. Now it's time to check your proof! Stamp your image to make sure you have all the necessary linocut cut away to get a nice, crisp image. Cut more if you need to.
And now you have a totally unique, one-of-a-kind rubber stamp. Just another thing that makes you awesome. ;) If you wanted, you could mount your linocut stamp onto a wooden block. Our local arts store sells wooden blocks so you might have to do a little looking. I haven't seen those at Michael's, yet. Or you could make your own! I just ran a couple lines of removable adhesive down the back of my stamp so I can use it on any of my acrylic stamping blocks. Whatever you do, have fun with it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Quilted Spring Table Runner

Now that you've had plenty of time to finish your beautiful spring placemats, here's what you can do with the scraps. Did I tell you how lovely your placemats were? Great job. :) Now let's make a table runner!

Quilted Spring Table Runner

Finished measurements: 20" x 14"
Seam allowance: 1/2" (unless otherwise stated)

*scrap fabric pattern A
*scrap fabric pattern B
*solid-colored fabric
*coordinating colored thread


1. Make sure your fabric is prewashed.

2. Cut solid-colored fabric to the following size specifications:
*5-1/4" x 15" (x2)
*1-1/2" x 15"
*21" x 15"

Make sure all pieces are pressed.

3. Cut both patterned fabrics into rectangles about 2-3" longer than what you need by anywhere from 3-7" wide. This pattern calls for 5" quilted stripes so I cut my rectangles about 7" x 5" (or so). There's really no exact science for this part as long as the pieces are long enough.
4. Take a fabric A rectangle and a fabric B rectangle and lay them on top of each other RS together at an angle. Stitch the long side of the top piece at 1/4". Press open.
5. Lay another rectangle on top of the one you just sewed RS together at an angle (you'll probably want the angle to be the opposite direction of the one you just made). Sew the long side of the new top piece at 1/4" and press open.
6. Now you'll keep doing this until your quilted strip is as long as you need it. If you're having trouble with the organized chaos of the angles of each piece, you can always place it at the angle you want (like above) and then fold it open to get an idea of what it will look like.
7. Now it's time to cut the strip to the correct size. This is where it really starts to come together. Using a straightedge, cut one side straight using the shortest piece of fabric as a guide (see picture). Then use the straightedge to cut the quilted strip to 5-1/2" wide.
8. Then comes the easy part of cutting it to the correct height of 15". Use your fabric as a guide, and just cut whichever side strikes your fancy; as long as it's 15" tall. Do this twice and you've got your 2 quilted strips! Now for the easy part.
9. Lay a quilted strip on top of a solid-colored piece (5-1/4" x 15") RS together. Stitch a long side at 1/4". Press open.

NOTE: When sewing the quilted piece on your sewing machine, make sure the folds are going under the presser foot backwards so they don't get bunched up under there.

10. Lay the skinny solid-colored piece (1-1/2" x 15") on top of the other side of the quilted strip you just sewed RS together. Stitch a long side at 1/4". Press open.

11. Lay the second quilted strip on top of the other side of the skinny solid-colored piece RS together. Stitch the long side at 1/4". Press open.
12. Lay a solid-colored piece (5-1/2" x 15") on top of the other side of the second quilted strip RS together. Stitch the long side at 1/4". Press open. Now you have the top of the runner done!

13. Lay the runner on top of the large solid-colored piece RS together. Stitch all around (1/2" seam allowance) leaving 2-3" for turning inside out.

14. Clip corners and turn inside out. Press.

15. Choose a color for the decorative stitching and stitch 1/4" all the way around the outside.

Since this piece isn't reversible (like the coordinating placemats), it doesn't really matter which color of the coordinating thread you choose for the stitching. I chose the blue because it popped more than the chartreuse.

16. "Stitch in the ditch" for both sides of both quilted strips (4 stitch lines).

And now you have a beautifully quilted table runner that will match either side of your reversible placemats. This was also my very first quilting project, and I have fallen in love with quilting! If this is going to be your first quilting project, you picked a good one. :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easy Spring Placemats

I have finally gotten tired enough of the weather where I am now trying to do everything in my power TO FORCE SPRING UPON US. I'm tired of this cold weather, already. So I found some beautiful springy fabric, made up a super easy sewing pattern, and I ended up with 4 reversible cheerfully spring placemats for our table. Yay!

Easy Spring Placemats (makes 4 placemats)

Finished measurements: 15" x 15"
Seam Allowance: 1/2" (unless otherwise stated)

*pattern fabric A:  6" x 16" (x4)
*pattern fabric B: 6" x 16" (x4)
*solid-colored fabric: 6" x 16" (x16)
*2 coordinating colored threads


1.  Always prewash fabric!

2. Cut fabric to sizes specified in materials list. Make sure all pieces are pressed.

3. Lay down fabric A and a solid color RS together. Sew down one long side. Press open.

4. Lay down solid-colored fabric piece on top of previously sewn fabric A RS together. Sew down the other long side. Press open.
5. Follow steps 3-4 again for fabric B and the solid-colored fabric. Now you have 2 square pieces of sewn fabric.

6. Lay them down RS together with one of them turned 90° (so the patterned fabrics form a cross on top of each other). Sew all the edges leaving 2-3" for turning inside out.

7. Clip all corners, turn placemat inside out and press.

8. This is where it gets fun! I chose a chartreuse thread to show on the blue side and a blue thread to show on the chartreuse side for some decorative flair. With that in mind, I sewed 1/4" all around the edge to finish off the seam.

NOTE: When I was sewing with the chartreuse fabric facing up in my sewing machine, I had the blue thread in the top of my machine, and the chartreuse thread in the bobbin (so it shows up on the underside with the blue fabric). 
9. To finish it up, I "stitched in the ditch" on both sides, which created a 3x3 grid on each side of the placemat.

NOTE: When I was sewing with the chartreuse fabric facing up in my sewing machine, I had the blue thread in the top of my machine, and the chartreuse thread in the bobbin (so it shows up on the underside with the blue fabric). This means when I flipped the placemat over to "stitch in the ditch" on the other side, I had to switch the thread colors in the machine so chartreuse was on the top of the machine and blue was in the bobbin.

And now spring is starting to show up a bit. It's even warmed up outside! I'll take credit for that. :) Come back later for instructions on making the lovely quilted table runner in the center with the scraps! Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Knits for Books

And by books, I mean my Kindle, of course. I never thought I would really get into it (because I'm a ginormous bookworm), but the rare occasion now is when I read an 'actual' book. Funny how these things turn out sometimes.

In any case, my moods tend to change very quickly (just ask my husband), and I like to be able to change my gadget cases whenever I like right along with them. However, I also have very particular tastes so, despite the fact that I have actually found 1 other Kindle case I liked, it's more than I care to spend right now so I can't lose by making a case myself. I had the yarn already, and the pattern was free. Yahtzee!

I got the pattern (by Jayne Hayward) off Ravelry (as I so often do) for free. It is a ravelry download, though so if you're interested, and you're NOT part of Ravelry, you need to join in order to download it. Heck, join anyway. It doesn't cost anything, and it's fiber crafting heaven, if you're into that kind of thing.
One new ridiculously complex cast-on method and several hours later, I have my new cover for my old baby. :) I used merino wool for this one, and this is the first time I've ever blocked wool so I WAS VERY CAREFUL. I did all this hard cable work, and I did NOT want to felt this. So I had to be extra careful. I found a very good tutorial by Mandy Powers of ZigZag Stitch that tells you everything you need to know to block your wool without taking you off the deep end. Short and to the point. :)

And here you have the finished product. Blocked and beautiful. Now my most beloved 'book' can be as cozy as I usually am right before I rip its case off to read it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Giving New Life to Old Chairs

Dumpster chairs, even. Scott and I were moving out of our apartment and found these wonderful bar chairs just sitting by the dumpster on our way out. There was nothing wrong with them, and they were free. I'll take 'em! That was 7 years ago, and they're still going strong, especially with my latest project.
This was the poor state of them before this week. I bought a yard of home decor weight fabric (love this log cross section fabric!) from IKEA (always measure your surface; I have some extra for a fun project later...), and had some fabric stabilizer and a staple gun standing by.

I started by detaching the seat from the frame and beginning the long task of removing the staples from the fabric.
It was a giant pain in the butt, but with a standard screwdriver and a pair of pliers, I was able to get it done. I kept the seat fabric to measure for the new seat. I ironed the old seat so it would lay flat for measuring and cutting. Now you can REALLY see why this needed to be done. :) Cut around the old seat, and you have your new one! You probably don't have to do this, but I'm kind of anal-retentive and want everything to be perfect so I did a quick blanket stitch around the outside of my new seat fabric to prevent fraying.
Luckily, my old seat's foam padding was just fine so I didn't have to replace that. Now I'm ready to staple the new fabric!
 I started at the back of the seat and started stapling from the middle. That way you can work in to the corners and get them the way you want them. I noticed when I was undoing the old seat fabric that there was a sort of plastic stabilizer so I decided to use some fabric stabilizer I had on hand. Just to keep the staples from pulling the fabric. It was around $7.99 for 10 yards, and I already had it. It seemed like a good idea. :)

I tried to work all 4 corners to be as flat as I could manage, and they all had extra stapling. It was more trial and error than anything. I had to take out staples a few times to rewrap. At this point, while you're wrapping, it might also be a good idea to mark the existing screw holes on your fabric so you don't staple them and so you know where they are for reattachment. I didn't mark them, but everything worked out fine.
When I was done wrapping the seat, I realized I didn't get enough fabric for the bottom cover. So... I decided to use the old seat fabric. :) I cut it using the old bottom as a template, and I, of course, had to do a little moving around to get it in a good spot that didn't have holes in it. I also turned it over so the side of the fabric that was facing out before was now to the inside of the seat. I also did a quick blanket stitch around this piece of fabric because it's more important that this one doesn't unravel and look unsightly. Then, staples all around, and voila!
Reattach it to the frame, and you're golden. Now we have our brand new old dumpster chairs. For the cost of free + $7.34 for the fabric, these chairs couldn't have been a better investment. :) Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adventures in Chalkboard Paint

I have ALWAYS wanted to use chalkboard paint. I see it on the DIY network, Martha Stewart crafting ads (I get her craft a day newsletter) and in various Michael's or JoAnn's crafting project ideas. So now it's my turn! Unfortunately, I did not end up getting Martha Stewart's chalkboard paint as it was 2 ounces fewer for $1 more. I got the folkart brand (a very well-known acrylic paint brand), and it worked just fine. I imagine there's only so much that can go wrong with paint so I didn't even think about it. Anyway... on to the project!

We have some baking ingredient jars on our counter, and they needed a little jazzing up. Plus, I always have to look really closely to distinguish the flour and sugar. It sounds stupid, but it's a problem for me. I'm blind as a bat. I bought some pre-cut balsa wood circles (3.25" diameter) for $0.29 each to fit the lids of my kitchen jars. I got my chalkboard paint for $6.99. I used contact paper to mask off a slightly smaller circle in the middle of each balsa piece, and then I just painted 6 or 7 coats of the chalkboard paint. The balsa really soaked up that paint so it took a couple days for me to get all my coats on. I adhered each circle to the lid with 3-D glue dots so they can be removed (if necessary, but they probably won't) but the intention is for them to stay there forever. I like to plan my options.
This was a really quick and easy project that you could do for any room. I painted a couple extra chalkboard labels to use in my craft room. Now I can change out the contents of each jar, or, as is the case with my granola (maple pecan here... yum...), I can get different flavors. And I will never mistake the flour for the sugar again.
 Now... how else can I use my chalkboard paint...?