Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Northwest Florida Snowman {Mug Rug}

I belong to a Flickr swap group called Rugs With Friends.  We are paired up and make each other a seasonal mug rug every couple of months or so, with different partners for each season.

Awhile back, I received this fun mug rug from Mary.  He's a Texas snowman - you can tell by his hat.

Receiving him convinced me that I wanted to go with the idea that had been rolling around in my brain for a couple of months, just waiting for a chance to get out.  A Northwest Florida snowman.

To be honest, it's not an original idea - Stampin Up! had a stamp similar to this several years ago in a cute little set called "Thanks Snow Much!"  But the idea was too fun to pass up.  When my kids were little - I think they may have been 10, 8, and 2 - we woke up one Valentine's Day morning to *SNOW*ON*THE*GROUND!!!!!  I actually broke a cardinal rule in our family - never wake a sleeping child - and woke the kids up, got them dressed in the few warm items we could find, and hurried them outside to enjoy the moment.

And a moment was about all there was.  We went for a walk and then hurried to build a snowman in the front yard.  This is what he looked like by about noon.  But we had a blast anyway and it made a wonderful memory. 

My partner said she laughed when she opened the package and saw him for the first time.

I think that's a success!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stella Part Two - Together Again

Stella is now all in one piece again and established in her new home!  Doesn't she look beautiful?

With HS coming home for Thanksgiving, I finally decided it was time to remove Stella from her boxes and get her established in her new surroundings (yes, it took me awhile - nothing like procrastination, is there?)

The finish on Stella's cabinet shows a little wear over the 85 years of her life, and I've been toying with the idea of sprucing her up a bit, but I finally decided I like her just the way she is.  You can see here that she was well packaged.  We used a ton of this foam insulation, and wrapped it in plastic wrap, then shaped her box to fit the enclosure we made.

The iron pieces are the most fragile, I'm told, so Dear Sister came up with the idea of doing a cut-out in the foam to protect these fragile parts.  We stacked them together, layered foam on top and bottom, and wrapped the whole stack in plastic wrap and then built a box to fit.  Thank goodness for box cutters and packing tape.

The treadle and the flywheel were packaged in a similar manner in their own separate box.

You have to watch out for the pointy parts.

I asked Bob, the nice man at my local sewing machine store, to put her together for me.  He took her metal parts to his shop, cleaned them up, greased the parts that needed to be greased, oiled the parts that needed to be oiled (apparently they are different - who knew?) and brought them back to me, then proceeded to put her together.  Once he had the legs on the cabinet, he put Stella in, then attached the belt.  I'm glad I asked him to do this.  His price was quite reasonable, and the greasing, oiling, and belt would have taken me hours.  I watched him do the belt - it was a little tricky and required a drill.  I didn't know you could drill through leather.

So here she is.  Now all I have to do is get my rhythm back.  I haven't used her for at least 40 years - and I'm not sure anyone has.  My sister commented in an email yesterday that she made all her doll clothes on this baby.  I remember embellishing dish towels and making a dress one summer.  And lots of mending.

And Stella will be a lovely reminder of my grandmother and all the summers I spent with her.

Thanks, Gram.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pillow Talk

I just finished another round of the Pillow Talk Swap.  My package - along with the 8 others that needed to be mailed yesterday - is winging its way to my partner.  It has a long ways to go, so I hope it gets there safely, and doesn't take toooooo long.

Pillow Talk is very rewarding, but also really intimidating.  There are some a-maz-ing swappers who participate in this swap, and the things they create are just over the top - gorgeous pillows that I never would have even thought of and techniques I wouldn't dream of trying, although I do like to stretch myself a bit.

I dithered and dallied and changed my mind a million times in trying to decide what to make my partner.  She is a very talented quilter and has made me things before, but this is the first time I have sent something to her.  I kinda thought I wanted to do something with circles and finally settled on the drunkards path block.  Above is a preliminary layout.  After seeing the photo, I realized that I should track the orange all the way to the corner, so I exchanged out a couple of blocks.

In constructing the drunkards path blocks I've made before, I've always pinned the centers and stretched the curves to fit.  But this time I ran across a post on a bee block I was admiring that linked to a blog with a totally cool method of sewing curves.  If you're working on curves, take a minute (that's how long the video is) and check out this method.  It took a couple of tries to get the "rhythm" but it was fantastic.  I thought it would take hours to get these blocks made, but it took less than 30 minutes to make all 25 blocks, plus some extras.  That's a minute a block!  It.  Is.  Awesome.

Here is the pillow top put together.  Yup, I dug out my seam ripper and changed out the block in the upper left corner.  It looks totally out of place, huh?  Funny how you don't see it until you see it in a picture.  That's one of the things I'm trying to do now that I have a phone that takes decent pictures - take a photo of my creation before I reach the point of no return to see if it really works.  This practice has saved me a couple of blunders.

Here was another occasion to bring out my seam ripper.  I totally didn't see that this fabric was right side IN until I was sewing the rows together.  Glad I saw it before I got the whole thing together. 

I read a blog the other day where a non-English speaker couldn't remember what the seam ripper was called - she called it an "unseaming tool".  I think that sounds a lot more elegant that "seam ripper".  I may call it that from now on!

Here it is layered on the batting and backing, ready for quilting.  You can see here where I changed out that orange block in the corner.  This time it is in the upper right. 

I start getting really excited about this point in the construction, when I know that it's right and I know that its starting to look the way I want it to.  I really love the way the curves flow in this design.

I stitched in the ditch around the curves and along the seam, then hand quilted in the color of the blocks about 1/4 inch from the curves.  I really like hand quilting (I never thought I would say that!)  It adds so much to the design.

I was going to do my usual binding but my friend suggested piping.  I really love the elegant finish it gives to my little pillow.  I think I will try to use this technique more.  If you haven't tried piping, give it a whirl.  All you need is a zipper foot - unless you're doing a LOT of it, don't let anyone convince  you that you need a bunch of fancy tools.  Cut your fabric strip wide enough to cover the piping comfortably and have enough fabric to hang on to - you can trim it later if you need to.  I've found that it's much easier to trim it than to fight with it while you're trying to sew close to the piping.  If your needle is adjustable, move it as close to the piping edge as you can without sewing through the piping.  This piping adventure worked so well I don't know why I don't do more of it.

So there it is - my PTS pillow finished in an evening.  That fact alone had me pleased as punch.

This is one pillow I could have cheerfully kept for myself.  I may have to make another.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Dresden Pillow - The Finish

So, here it is - the finished Dresden pillow.  Pieced, embroidered, quilted, bordered, bound, zipped, labeled, temporarily stuffed and ready to mail.  I'm sorry for the picture.  It was dark when I got home last night and cloudy this morning, so not very good lighting - and the flash just seemed to wash it out.

The colors are a real departure for me.  My partner asked for blues and greens, and luckily BD#1 gifted me this package of Dear Stella FQs she got at  Sewing Summit. Otherwise I wouldn't have had anything in those colors.  As it was, I added the aqua dots and the red Ruby, the Reunion pennants and a bit of Madrona Road text.  It needed some life.

I really hope she likes it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Dresden Pillow - A Progress Report

This was a busy weekend in the prsd4tim2 studio (can I really call that messy corner I sew in a studio? - nah, not the real me!) working to meet the swap deadlines that are approaching.  I am glad to report that I have made good progress and that all five (count them - 5!) projects are well underway now with only finishing touches to be added.  (I think that it was self preservation not to actually count them accurately ahead of time!)

I've been reading other blogs again lately, after something of a hiatus, and I noticed that I really like posts where the crafter describes her creative process.  So, at the risk of being unutterably dull, I thought I might try a post that outlines how I go about creating.

Do you have a "vision" of what your project will look like when you begin?  Do you plan everything to the smallest detail before you make the first cut?  I don't.  My projects tend to evolve with only a sketchy notion of where I'm headed.  This Dresden pillow is a case in point.

I hand stitched it onto some navy Dear Stella solid that matches the navy in the Dear Stella prints exactly.  {imagine that!} 

Then, using the lid to my sugar bowl, which seemed to be just the right size, I cut a circle as a template for the embroidery I did last week.  Do you use random kitchen items as templates too?

I used Anna Maria Horner's tin foil method to press the embroidery into a crisp circle, trimmed the edges, and hand stitched it to the center of the Dresden.

It's coming along, but not there yet.

So I added a little hand quilting to the mix.  When I was younger, I hated handwork, although I did dabble in embroidery from time to time.  But to actually construct something by hand was unthinkable.  I simply didn't have time.  Lately, though, I quite enjoy sitting down with my needle and peacefully stitching.  It seems to calm my soul. 

It reminds me of a poem I did as a hoop a year or two ago.  I may have to do one of these for myself.

I quite like the effect of the hand quilting.

[On a totally different subject, I lost my favorite needle while I was working on this project.  Alas, I have swept and vacuumed to no avail.   I received the needle in a cute little needlebook I received in a swap, so I don't know what kind of needle it was.  I have been frustrated by needles for awhile now - I must hold them in a death grip or something, because before to long they are bent and useless.  I even emailed the girl who made the needlebook, and she didn't know what brand of needle it might have been, but it was great.  I used it for several weeks and it wasn't bent at all.  Do you have a brand of needles you like - that hold up under strain, sweaty fingers, and just plain overuse?  If so, I'd love to know what kind.  I'll buy a boatload of them!)

I almost like the inside as much as the outside - except for the knots.  Normally I would bury the knots, but these won't show.  I guess I could have done it anyway.  But I didn't.

So, tomorrow, a picture of the finished pillow and maybe a look at another project or two that are at the nearly completed stage.

Friday, November 9, 2012


If you've read my blog a time or two, you've probably come to the conclusion that I am a swap addict.  It's true.  I admit it.  I really need to get this addiction under control.  But it'll have to wait until I get the 4 (or is it 5???) swaps done for the middle of November.

The little cottage above is for the Fab Little Pincushion (FLiPS for short) swap.  I found the pattern here.  It was loads of fun to make.  Next time I may try some different details, but this was a hoot.  I had to cover up the welcome sign, as it might give too many clues to my partner.

Next is the Trim the Tree swap, and this one is finished and ready to mail to my 4 partners.  I can't find the tutorial I used, but if anyone knows where it is, I will gladly add the link to give credit where credit is due.  These acrylic ornaments happen to be on sale at Michael's right now, so they are pretty inexpensive.  I found that cutting your scrapbook paper on the narrower side gives a more interesting ornament.  Of course, it took me a few tries to figure that out.

Then I made this little tote for my partner in the Modern She Made Swap.  I really like these text prints together.  The Paris map fabric is so fun.  The pattern is here.  This is a really simple to sew tote, and the outer pockets are formed when you attach the straps.  Seriously, this bag took about 45 minutes to sew.

These cute texty prints were not my original plan, but somehow I didn't get home with the fabric I bought to make this little goodie.  I opened the bag from the fabric store on Saturday afternoon after the store had closed, tore the whole sewing room apart, and finally concluded that I left it at the store.  I called first thing on Monday morning and described my fabric, they said they had it, I went rushing in after work - only to find that the fabric they had set aside was not the fabric I had chosen originally.  The owner was there however, and kindly cut some more fabric for me.  So nice, as these were 1-yard cuts, so pretty expensive.

I also decided to make my partner a pillow cover, so I got out my EZ Dresden ruler again, along with the Dear Stella prints BD#1 picked up for me at Sewing Summit (isn't she so sweet to share with her dear mother?) and added a couple of other prints to give it some variety.  I bought some navy solid for the background, but really wish I had a navy polka dot.  Sadly, my LQS didn't have navy dot, and I don't have time to go hunting.  I'm planning to hand quilt it, so I think it will be OK.

Then I decided to embroider the Dresden center to give it a little interest.  Really need to get rid of the pencil marks, but I'll get around to that.

Here's the print that inspired the embroidery.

And I still have my winter mug rug to send back to Mary, who made me the Texas snowman.  Mary will get a Florida snowman, just as soon as I get a chance to sit down and make it.  I have such a fun idea!

Photo by Kelly of SewKellySews
 Finally, I have to make my pillow for the Pillow Talk Swap.  This is my pillow from last round and I really had a blast making it.  Kelly (and her girls) seemed to like it too.  I still haven't settled on an idea for this time.  There are so many rolling around in my head.  But this one has to get started this weekend.

Then I have one more swap before the end of November, as the folks in the Sew Fun Bee create some Christmas goodness for their partners, but the due date is pretty flexible.  I think I have an idea for this one too, it's just a matter of doing it.

So, November seems to be a truly swappy month here at prsd4tim2, but I've got it well in hand (I hope).  At least a few of the projects are finished.  And Monday is a holiday, so I hope to have a seriously creative weekend.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fun Mail

 There has been some really fun mail arriving at the prsd4tim2 household lately.  Last Saturday was no exception.  I received my Modernista package from Heidi (fabricmutt).  I am so excited by the things she sent.  First was this wonderful little mini quilt.  I've seen these around Flickr and always been slightly envious.  What an adorable creation she made for me.  I especially love how the fabrics she chose work so well in this little scene.  The pearl bracelets for the sky and the DS Quilts green for the grass.  The text picket fence.  The "brick" for the house - not sure what fabric that is but it works so well.

The detail is really cool.  I love the "trim" on the eve of the house and the quilt on the clothesline.  How about the lady in the window with the turkey?  And check out the mailbox.

So fun!

But that wasn't all she sent.  She also sent this great table runner.  Love the colors with the linen.  And there are some of my favorite prints in there.  So yummy.

She added a few charms, and what a perfect package it was.

I also received my winter package from Mary P in the Rugs with Friends swap.  Mary is really on the ball, because I haven't started my little mug rug yet, although I do have a plan, which is an amazing fact in itself.  Such cute little FQs came with the package.

But the mug rug is an amazing creation in its own right.  This is a Texas snowman (Mary is from Texas, obviously!)  How do you know?  Check out his hat!  But I love the expression on his face and the detail of the quilting.

Thanks Heidi and Mary for such great swaps!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Modernista - For the Kitchen

For the past several months I have been involved with the Modernista Homemade swap as a mama.  It has been a lot of fun to see the fun things that folks have created.  We are taking the house a room at a time and creating wonderful items to brighten each other's lives.  What fun!

Our first adventure was into the sewing room, and sewing machine covers and mini quilts abounded.

I received such fun items from my partner, Whitney, an uber-talented sewist and one that I missed by moments, I am told, at my brief foray into Sewing Summit (I was the babysitter, remember...)

This time I got to assign the partners - all the partners, including mine.  Yeah, that means I know who my partner is, if I go back and look, but to be honest, I have forgotten.  It also means I got to pick the partner I sewed for, and I have to admit that when I saw that Cynthia wanted a casserole carrier, I picked her to sew for.  I had a dynamite idea that I wanted to see come to life.

Many years ago, my sister made me a casserole carrier along the lines of the one above.  She used double sided quilted fabric.  It has gone with me to every pot luck and compassionate service assignment for at least 25 years!  It has been well used and well loved. And still looks pretty good for all the wear it has received over the years (even if it does look a little 70's).

And so I set out to create my own.  I've made a few of these over the years, but they have all used the double-sided quilted fabric you can buy.   I wanted this one to be different.  It was also a good chance to use my EZ Dresden template.  I've been wanting to use it since the SLMQG issued their challenge last summer.  Alas, I'm too late for the prizes, but what the hey!  I used two layers of batting so it would be extra puffy and keep foods nice and toasty warm.  I also made it a little bigger than the original.  Sticking a 9x13 pan in mine is kind of a stretch.  Cynthia should have no problem fitting a large pan (round or oblong) into this carrier.

It was not a difficult project at all, and in fact, I had a lot of fun choosing fabrics to my partner's taste.  I probably would not have added the brown if she hadn't mentioned that it was one of "her colors", although I am really jazzed by the Pure (by Sweetwater for Moda) text fabric.  It was on sale when I was in Utah last time, and I bought a couple of yards of it.  You can probably expect to see it in quite a few projects until it is gone, which I know will make me sad.

I think I may make several of these casserole carriers for Christmas, and may even do a tutorial if anyone is interested.  They're pretty fun to make, and I really like the Dresden design.  I may even try a scrappy Dresden, if I do it again.  Or, create a patchwork block and then cut it to shape and size.  I think the variations are as endless as your imagination.

I also made her a variation of the 1-hour tote with Aneela's Crazy Scrappy Blocks for the pocket,  and no batting, so you can use it for a grocery tote.  I added a string and some velcro, so you can roll it up and tuck it in your purse so you always have a bag when you shop.  I must have a dozen fabric grocery totes, but somehow they never make it into the store with me.  I made some crochet dish cloths and decorated a dish towel and sent it off in the mail.

Cynthia has already received it, and said she liked it.

I guess I can call that a successful swap.

Can't wait to see what my partner has made for me.