Friday, February 28, 2014

Frozen Friday: Party Time!

I had grand hopes of revealing my quilt today, but unfortunately, I was out of the house all day today and now it is too dark to take pictures.  I thought I would have the afternoon to take pictures and blog, but I had to unexpectedly go to a school assembly today to see my daughter get a character award for "Acceptance."  No better reason to miss out on a scheduled posting.  :)  I will be out of town this weekend to take part in the Hot Chocolate 5K, so I already have other blog posts written and scheduled to come out Saturday and Sunday.  Don't despair; Monday you can look forward to the pictures of the completed quilt.

But we can still have our Frozen Friday, because in lieu of that, I have pictures of our Frozen party to share!  We made a winter wonderland out of the house and had seven wild little girls invade it.  That was six days ago, and I am just starting to recover.

My birthday girl!

My little ones getting ready for the party.

Every girl took home a blueberry lollipop and one of these little "build a snowman" kits.  Just throw three large marshmallows (body), two mini marshmallows (feet), two stick pretzels (arms), five chocolate chips (eyes and buttons), and a piece of candy corn (nose) in a sandwich bag and add a topper.  This is not my unique idea, but I've seen it in so many places I wouldn't know who to credit.  I also printed up water bottle labels that said "Melted Snow" and had a picture of Olaf in summer, then taped them on water bottles.  These were a huge hit with the girls, especially when they got to add their own water flavorings.

Another huge hit was the hot cocoa bar.  I used what is normally my menu board and drew Olaf on it.  Let's just say that I have a lot more respect for Disney animators after several attempts at that.  We put out hot cocoa in different flavors, marshmallows, Andes mints, caramel, and whipped cream.  There was a run on the Keurig machine for the hot water, and soon everyone was settled in with a warm cup of cocoa.

We had plenty of purple and blue decorations.  We covered our walls with small snowflakes cut out of blue vinyl.  Sparkly snowflakes and acrylic "ice chunks" were strewn about the tables.  We strung balloons all through the downstairs using a needle and thread, which was an idea I found on Pinterest.  It worked great!  And I just happened to have PartyLite lanterns with snowflake patterns that were perfect for the party.  We even made magic color changing drinks by dropping blue food coloring into the cups, pouring ice on top, and then pouring clear pop on top.  As the pop bubbled, it turned blue.  Mini carrots served as snowman noses for a snack before gorging on pizza, and we served blue Jell-O in individual packs. Our cake had a bit of a sliding mishap because there was so much filling, but we told everyone that it had melted in the summer warmth and moved on with life.

I made the prizes for our "pin the nose on Olaf" game.  I decided to try making sugar lollipops for the first time, and I actually had a blast.  They were much easier to make than I anticipated.  We had large snowflakes and little stars.  Just a week earlier, my mom had given me some LorAnn flavorings in blueberry and mint that she didn't plan on using.  I threw a few drops of the blueberry in, and it turned out great.  Since I had extra sugar left after filling my molds, I put the rest in a pie tin and created "ice shards."

We needed plenty of activities to keep the girls busy for the entire party, so we set up a necklace-making station.  The girls picked a precut 1-inch character circle (not shockingly, every girl wanted Elsa), sealed it with an epoxy seal, glued it into a pendant back, and added a chain and an accent bead.

We also made a borax snowflake station.  Each girl created a snowflake out of a pipe cleaner, then suspended it in a jar.  The girls measured out their borax and poured it in, then I took them all to the kitchen and added boiling water.  We have been watching our snowflakes grow crystals ever since.

Everyone seemed to have a really good time at the party.  My daughter seemed to think it had everything she could have possibly wanted, so I think I'll go ahead and put this one in the "win" column.  Now it's time for me to get planning a dragon party for her big sister for June!  If you have any good ideas for that one, please let me know in the comments.  :)

My mother made this amazing gift topper for a birthday gift.  Makes me think there really might be a "crafty gene."  ;)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Christmas Reveal: Little Mermaid Wall Quilt

I am a huge fan of mini quilts as gifts.  They are small enough that they don't require a large wall or bed for display, they can be changed out and stored easily, and they can be made in a lot less time.

Since my sister-in-law has never lost her childhood obsession with the Little Mermaid, I came across this pattern and had to make this quilt for her:

Little Mermaid Wall Quilt
Little Mermaid wall quilt.  Pattern by DebraHarryArtQuilts.

The 3'x3' quilt is made from a pattern by DebraHarryArtQuilts.  The pattern is available for sale in her Etsy shop; you can find the listing here.  While you're over there pattern shopping, be sure to take a look at some of her ready-made art quilts.  They are really quite stunning.  The border of this mermaid quilt is designed to be pieced, but I was in a time crunch and went with large sashing instead.  The mermaid is done with a raw edge applique technique.  I used fusible webbing because that's what I'm most comfortable with.  The pattern is easy enough for beginners in piecing and applique, but you can add personal touches that really liven it up and add to the artsy aspect.

Little Mermaid Wall Quilt
This was actually my first time FMQing, and I used my new darning foot.  The scales are a little wonky, but I'm sure even a real mermaid wouldn't have a perfect tail.  :)
Little Mermaid Wall Quilt
I added a few sequins to the hair after FMQing it.  They help anchor some spots where the applique comes together and add some fun sparkle.

I had a lot of fun experimenting with different techniques on this quilt.  When I assembled the sashing, I included some lace to act like foam, then quilted a long, wavy line on top.  I zig-zagged around all my applique to make sure it would hold, then outline stitched the mermaid.  I FMQed the scales on her tail and some lines in her hair.  The hair turned out to be my favorite part, and I added some sequins for more fun.  If I had more time, I probably would have added in some beads or charms, but I had to "scale" back (haha) on this quilt.

Little Mermaid Wall Quilt
Lace trim and a wavy line create stylized waves at the top of the quilt.

Little Mermaid Wall Quilt
I zig-zag stitched around the large and small starfish, then stitched an interior line on the smaller one. 

I made this whole quilt out of scrap fabric.  The background actually has gold sparkles in it, and all the borders are done in various batiks.  The original pattern calls for one large piece of background fabric, but I thought I would add some interest to the quilt with a sea bottom.  I had the stone bottom from making my Book of Monsters block, and it worked perfectly here.  I scratched my head for a while trying to decide how to liven up the side sashing, and I finally decided to sketch out some sea plants with a chalk pencil and zig-zag quilt them.

Little Mermaid Wall Quilt
Zig-zag seaweed offers some interest in the side sashing.

I hope my sister-in-law loved it!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Christmas Reveal: My Little Pony Mini Quilt

This Christmas season, I finally decided to sponsor a child through The Christmas Fairy.  I have made personalized necklaces for children through the program in the past, but never done a full sponsorship.  We got a 6-year-old girl who liked My Little Pony, and in addition to the other gifts we bought for her, I wanted to include a handmade mini quilt that she could hang on her wall or use as a doll blanket.

Twilight Sparkle Quilt
The completed quilt.

I used liljab's pattern for Twilight Sparkle (you can find the pattern here), and at the risk of sounding conceited, I think it turned out pretty well.  What a fun and pretty easy pattern!  The colors ended up perfect for the design, even though I picked them out without writing down what I needed or looking up a picture while I was at the fabric shop.  This was totally from memory.  I think I may have watched a little too much MLP in my parenting life.

Twilight Sparkle Quilt
I quilted with loose, knotty spirals.

Twilight Sparkle Quilt
Personalized tags.
I did stitch in the ditch all around the pony, then quilted with clear monofilament thread in a loose spiral pattern to get a sort of "magical" feel.  This is Twilight Sparkle, after all.  Then I had to include a little quilted cutie mark.  It's just not a My Little Pony without one.  The backing was some purple starry night fabric (Robert Kaufman, I believe) I had bought as the backing for a Harry Potter quilt, and I had enough extra to back and bind this quilt as well.

Twilight Sparkle Quilt
Quilted cutie mark.
I am loving these little tags I can use to mark my quilts.    I ordered a bunch and I have been marking all my handmade quilts and other projects with them.  I am not one for putting a lot of information on my quilts, which I may regret in the future, but this tag serves as my signature and shows (as if my poor quilting and binding wouldn't do that well enough) that the item is handmade.

 I had so much fun shopping for our girl.  I hope we can take part in the program again next year!

Twilight Sparkle Quilt
Such a girlicious haul!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Frozen ... Monday (whoops): Kristoff!

The last pattern in our Frozen Friday series is finally available.  I thought about pushing myself to get it out on Friday as promised, but after a disastrous week which included my car breaking down and the family getting sick, I figured getting everything ready for the party was priority one.  I will share the pictures of the party along with the finished quilt later this week.  In the meantime, my amazing husband managed to find and fix up a laptop for me since my old one is on its last legs, so I am hoping to be able to do a lot more pattern drafting and blogging in the coming weeks.

But without further delay, here's Kristoff!

Kristoff Frozen Quilt Pattern
The computerized version. This block may require a little embroidery in the nose region to help it along.  I have to admit, the term "robotic frog" did come to mind upon drafting it.

You know the drill by now:  tiny eyes, difficult piece.  You can blow it up to make it easier.  Other than that, it's not super complicated.  As it states in the pattern, the pieces that are all background fabric above his head can be cut much larger, sewn in, and then trimmed down if it is easier than trying to trim them to the exact size ahead of time.

Kristoff Frozen Quilt Pattern
The real deal!  The neck color was an unfortunate choice, but I am working almost entirely with scraps, so I had to make do.

Please don't judge the pattern based on the mess I made of my piecing.  I tried to rush it and made all the classic mistakes: not choosing the right color fabric for the shadowing on his neck so he looks like he's wearing white face paint, stretching the eye piece too far and then trimming the end off (what was I thinking?!?!) so I had to fix it and give him a surfer hair-do, and just generally making a mess of things and not getting things lined up.  It is killing me not to go back and redo the pattern, but I had to get the quilt done and I know my daughter won't mind.

You can download the pattern for Kristoff here.  I will be posting him to Craftsy soon as well.

And another announcement. We have our giveaway winner!  Many thanks to AlidaP (you can catch her amazing blog here) for commenting on the giveaway blog post and sharing an amazing idea for a weekend project.  I actually added it to my Pinterest board so I can make it as a Christmas gift for my girls.  She made her odds unbeatable by being the only person to enter the giveaway.  I waited through Sunday to see if we had any more interest, but there was none to be had.  Hopefully we can garner some more interest in future giveaways!  I still have two quilt patterns to give away, so I am going to go through tomorrow and see who left the last two comments on the blog and contact them to see if they are interested in the remaining prizes.

Now it's off to work on my ECCC costume.  No rest for the weary.  :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Frozen Friday: Elsa!

Don't forget to check out my last post (here) for an easy-to-enter giveaway!  It closes on Sunday, February 23.  Three prizes and only one entry so far means that your odds of winning a fun quilt pattern and rulers are great.  :)

In the meantime I am working furiously on this Frozen quilt, hoping that tomorrow I can wrap it up for the big birthday reveal.  Since I happened to have my Elsa pattern pieces already printed out from when I designed the pattern, I thought I would knock that block out.  Right now Kristoff is in a pile of finished section pieces on my sewing table, ready to be assembled.  The quilt pattern goes together very fast, so I should have plenty of time to finish it up tomorrow.

Elsa Frozen Quilt Pattern
The computer-generated image.

I am trying to do everything but the snowflake fabric with scraps from my stash, so the color choices aren't always ideal.  I am particularly low (come to find out after trying to piece my Buttercup block) on flesh tones and blonde hair tones.  The difference between her skin tone and her hair is far more noticeable in person, but Elsa has very fair skin and hair anyway.  The fabric for her dress is one I have held on to for a couple of years because I didn't love it in a large piece, but it just happened to be perfect for this particular project.

Elsa Frozen Quilt Pattern
The real deal.

I am really happy with the way this pattern came together.  Her eyes took a lot of work to paper piece, and are the primary reason you are once again looking at pattern rated at a healthy advanced level, but I refuse to lose detail just to make a pattern easier.  If I had to choose a favorite pattern from the set, which would be difficult, I think this would be the one.

Elsa is available here.  I will be uploading her to Craftsy soon.

Next week we will reveal Kristoff, and in two weeks I can show you the entire completed quilt!

Enjoy.  :)  Now go over and enter to win a quilt pattern and rulers for this:

Quilt Kit Giveaway
One grand prize winner will win the quilt kit with directions, rulers, and fish eye buttons, as well as 2/3 a yard of this orange batik, and two other winners will walk away with the quilt pattern, rulers, and fish eye buttons.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Christmas Reveal: Denver Broncos Mug Rug (and a giveaway!)

Now that our family has finally had its last Christmas celebration (the season lasted FOREVER this year!), I can reveal all the fun quilty things I made as gifts.  I will be sharing those over the next few weeks, as well as the rest of our Frozen Friday blocks.

With the Seahawks' recent Super Bowl win, I thought I would get cheeky and start with a gift I made for my father-in-law, who is a huge Denver Broncos fan.  I wanted to make him a mug rug or small wall flag featuring the team's logo.

Denver Broncos Mug Rug
The finished mug rug.
Denver Broncos Mug Rug
My first try at crosshatch quilting.  I think this was the perfect project for it.
These would be incredibly easy to make up for a fan of any sports team.  I simply went to Chris Creamer's Sports Logos Page to find the logo, then reversed it to create an applique pattern.  I appliqued it onto a 6"x9" piece of background fabric, did a quick crosshatch quilt job, and bound it.  I used white thread on the binding and I love the way it looks like an inner border.  The whole project took me maybe an hour and I was able to do it with scraps I already had.

Denver Broncos Mug Rug
Sitting on my pallet coffee table, which will be receiving a light coat of whitewash this summer.

Is it just me, or is that poor pony looking a little sad?  I suppose next year I will have to make him a Seahawks championship mug rug to keep it some company. But enough gloating.  ;)

Speaking of orange and blue, and of bowls, how about an introduction to the blog's first giveaway?  We are giving away three prizes:  first prize consists of this cool fish bowl quilt kit and 2/3 a yard of the orange batik fabric I used in mine, and the two runner up prizes consist of the quilt kit only.

Grand prize:  School of fish quilt kit and 2/3 yard of orange batik.
Second and third prize:  School of fish quilt kit.

I have been piecing so many tiny little blocks lately that I wanted a quick pick-me-up project with some instant gratification.  I had bought this pattern at a local quilt shop with a coupon from a doorknob flyer, and I set it aside thinking I would use it some day for a baby quilt.  The kit ("School of Fish" by Darlene Zimmerman, via EZ Quilting) includes everything but the fabric and batting that you need to make the quilt.  You get the Tri-Rec rulers, the fish eye buttons, and the complete set of instructions.  The Tri-Rec rulers are amazing and I have used them in many different projects, including the Modern Trees quilt-along at Christa Quilts!  The finished quilt measures 33.5"x45".

My two color choices.
The blue batik up close.

I chose two very unusual colors for me:  bright orange and bright blue.  They are both batiks, which I just love for their colors and the fact that they press so well.  These were calling out to me at the fabric store, but I had no idea I would love the completed quilt so much.  The blue looks exactly like the bottom of a swimming pool in the sunlight.  This was so much fun to stitch up with snow falling just outside my sewing room window.  The pattern would work really well with colorful scraps, also.  Think Rainbow fish!

There are a few spots where the points don't match up exactly, but I am really trying to get over my perfectionism when it comes to quilting.  I don't do a lot of traditional piecing because that bothers me so much, and paper piecing allows me to get the precision I like.  However, there is something really satisfying about being able to make a quilt top in an afternoon.  Here is my quilt top so far:

My quilt top.

This one is my favorite.
Here, the batik looks like a fish eye.
In a few spots, the batik pattern just happened to look like eyes.  I will probably leave the eye buttons off those fish because I love the effect so much.  I was planning on giving this quilt away, but my husband and I fell in love with the bright, cheery colors and I think I will keep it as a summer wall hanging.  Soon we will be adding a curtain rod on our blank living room wall so we can switch out quilts seasonally.  Now I just have to get all my seasonal quilts made!  I hope to have this one quilted and bound by the time our giveaway ends, so I will share the final product with you then.

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post, linking me over to your favorite easy weekend project.  Quilting, sewing, crafting, jewelry-making ... as long as it's a fun project that gets quick results, I want to hear about it!  Of course I would love for you to follow the blog and share it with your friends, but none of that is a requirement to enter.  Please make sure you sign in before leaving a comment or leave an email address within it; if I cannot contact you, I will not be able to declare you a winner!  I will draw three names on Sunday, February 23 and announce them in a new posting then.  Good luck!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Frozen Friday: Olaf!

It really was a frozen Friday around here today!  I was glad I filled all the bird feeders yesterday because we woke up to snow and a two hour school delay.  That meant no therapy or preschool for my son, so I wasn't quite as productive as I normally am on a weekday.  (Frozen Friday almost turned into Snowy Saturday!)  I can't complain too much, though, since we don't have to make up late starts, and I know the rest of the country has really had it bad this winter.

We are continuing our Frozen patterns with Olaf, another 5" paper pieced block.  This guy was a lot of fun to piece, and seeing his big grin come together was really lifting my spirits.  I found a white fabric with tiny daisies that actually looked a little like snowflakes, so I thought that would be fun to play with.  I actually love the way it turned out.  Olaf is available here or on Craftsy (coming soon).

Olaf Frozen Quilt Block
The computer-generated image.

Olaf Frozen Quilt Block
The real deal!

Olaf, like his counterparts, is probably rated at a healthy advanced level.  I have to say, though, that it is mostly the size of the block that leads to this difficulty level.  If you are enlarging him, he should be much simpler to put together.  Because of the small pieces, I have included both a numbered and an unnumbered pattern in case you find it easier to work with the blank pattern.  I am always happy to enlarge my patterns for people and email them to you if you need help with that.  It won't be in the whole pretty pattern package, but I can send you just the enlarged pattern pieces.  Just leave a note in the comments!

Another thing I wanted to mention about these tiny patterns is the importance of accuracy.  Before I stitch two sections together, I fold one piece back along the line where I will be stitching to make sure any spots that need to match up do, and that I will have straight stitch lines on all sides when I am finished.  Sometimes if I have more than one spot that needs to match up, I will baste those spots and fold the section back to make sure they line up, then I will go back and stitch the whole line.  Once I stitch it, I take it to the iron to press the seam.  If something doesn't line up PERFECTLY, I will use the seam ripper and give it another go.  If you leave a small mistake there, little problems can multiply exponentially over the course of piecing the block together and your block can end up seriously malformed at the end, which is a lot of hard work gone to waste.  It is better to check and double-check at every step.

I can see some bits of adhesive stuck to my piece from ironing on the girls' Girl Scout patches, so it's probably time for me to clean my iron.  I usually get rid of all the gunk by mixing baking soda, some rock salt, and a tiny bit of water to make a thick paste, then take a paper towel to it and give it a little elbow grease.  My iron comes beautifully clean in no time.  If I get it in the little steam holes (I'm sure they have a more technical name than that), I just use a toothpick to pluck it out.  I never use the steam function on my iron anyway, so I don't worry about it too much.  If you are worried about it, you could probably cover them with a little tape or something to keep them clean while you scrub.

Over the next week I will be stitching Kristoff and Elsa, and hopefully retesting my revised Anna pattern.  I have to have this quilt done by next Saturday, so we are in time crunch mode!  If you give any of these patterns a try, I would love to see and here about your results and share them here on the blog.  :)