Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Quick Christmas Stocking Tutorial

 Another year almost gone and here comes Christmas. It seems like it was just January!  I decided to make Christmas stockings for several teens this year. (I'll load them up with goodies before gifting of course). I've made nice, fully lined stockings with no exposed seams and a cuff at the top before, but as I needed to make 9 that wasn't really feasible this time.  Still, I didn't want to just sew two pieces of fabric together and call it good. So this is my middle of the road, nice but not too time consuming Christmas stocking tutorial.

Print out or draw yourself a template. For reference this one measures 6.5" across the top, so the stockings finished at about 6" wide. I wouldn't go much smaller than that because it's hard to get your hand in.  Trace around your template and cut lining fabric (2 per stocking, I used an old sheet). I decided to use a solid backing and pieced front for my stockings, so I traced and cut backing fabric at this point as well (one per stocking).  (Pay attention to which way your template is turned. In photos stockings always seem to hang with their toes pointed to the right.)

Place the back piece and back-lining right sides together and sew across the top.

Then flip wrong sides together, match the toes, and press the top seam to make a finished edge.

I foundation pieced strips of red and green to the front lining fabric of my stocking to make the front panel.

I've got a tutorial here for foundation piecing squares. The stocking uses the same technique, just stocking-shaped.  Again, pay attention to which way the toe is pointing.

Sew each new strip onto the previous one, through the lining, so when you're done you have the outside and inside already joined together.

After pressing I placed my template on top and traced again, then trimmed it, since the lining can warp and stretch when you sew the strips on.

Now you have the front and back of your stocking ready. You could sew them together at this point but I chose to make a false cuff to make it look fancier.  To make the cuff you need to cut a piece of fabric equal to the width of your stocking and twice as tall as the cuff will be deep (plus seam allowances).  I cut a 6.5" square for a 3" deep cuff.  Obviously you embroidery is nice if you can get it. I think some kind of trim or decorative stitching would look nice, too.

Fold the cuff in half wrong sides together and pin the open sides.

Place the cuff, right side up, at the top of the wrong side of the front stocking panel and sew across the top.  (See picture)  This should close the long open seams of the cuff.

Flip the cuff over the top to hide that seam you just made and you should have your cuff in place and a nice seam at the top of the panel. Press with an iron.

Sew the front and back of the stocking right sides together, catching all the layers and the cuff in the seam, leaving the top open.

It helps to pin a few places.

Remember to sew in a hanging loop near the top before you close the seam.

I zig-zagged over the raw inside seam to finish it before flipping the stocking right-side-out and pressing.

Ta-da! I hope the tutorial is helpful, if anyone follows it I'd live to see what you make!

Linking to Oh Scrap!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Last of the D9s

Happy Thanksgiving to US readers! Today I have two nice, fat, 72" square quilts done to round out August's Disappearing Nines block drive.  Supporters of Covered in Love sent in 130 black, white, and bright blocks to make a total of 6 quilts to be gifted to families who lose someone in the hospital.

It was so humid my lens got foggy and I didn't notice :(

One of these got a nice bright green backing while the other got an aqua blue. Both got a big stipple for quilting.

I bound them with scrap strings, one in black and white and one in blue/yellow/green.

Check out those cute little lanterns and bamboo!

Fun sewing themed text fabric.

The holiday block drive for Covered in Love is going on now if you'd like to help out by making a block or two (or ten)!  Thanks soooo much to all the ladies who contributed blocks to the August drive.  You're the best!!

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Quick Tip

Nothing too exciting to post today, just a quick tip about my quilt-top assembly process.  Sometimes after laying out a quilt on the design wall I need to move it off before sewing the blocks together. I stack each column from top to bottom and pin and the top left corner with a numbered pin. I know that the columns are numbered left to right, and the when the blocks are right side up the pin will be in the top left, so this lets me eventually sew the quilt top together in the right order.

As I start sewing the columns together I move the pin to the top left of the top block so I still have the column numbered and right side up.  These pin covers are called "Quilter's Delight" and they snap on to regular quilting safety pins.  Happy sewing!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Up with the birds... and the cats

Some days I go to bed expecting to go to work, only to wake up to a phone call that there are more nurses on the schedule than we have patients for so I have an unexpected day off. Usually I can go back to sleep, but sometimes once I'm up I'm up and I may as well use my time well.

These photos were taken on one such day, when I was up with the birds bright an early.  I almost never get up in time for the dawn light and usually have to wait until late afternoon to take quilt pictures.

This is the last of the straightforward star quilts from July's Covered in Love block drive.  There were ten or so blocks leftover that will be incorporated into a later quilts.

a fun Christmas surprise block courtesy of Louise

I didn't get any good pictures of the backing of this one, but I used a donated piece of textured flannel that made it thick, warm, and super cuddly.  The cats of course were glad to have someone up with them.  Spot the cat in the picture below...

Rory, taking advantage of an empty trash can.  Crazy cat.

This stars quilt along with its two brothers will go into Covered in Love's stash to gift to patients at the hospital.  Thank you to all the quilters who participated in this block drive, and in all our block drives!

There is a new block drive going on now if you want to sew along, please do!  Details on the block drive page.

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Friday.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fall in Texas

So this is Fall in Texas...

Mexican Petunias in full bloom. Weather in the low-80s.

The plants that bloomed first in Spring, then weathered the long, dry Summer when everything turns brown and crunchy to wait out the heat, bloom again.

Lizards, bees, and butterflies.

Roses choked with Cypress Vines.  A small-town harvest festival.

Although the humidity I could do without, I guess all in all it's not too bad ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Scrappy Log Cabins

Awhile back I made another attempt to get my string box under control. Previously I've gone on string quilt binges, like the one two years ago that resulted in these four quilts: one two three four.  Every time I knock the strings back down so I can close the box they slowly creep back until they're spilling out everywhere again.

This time I cut strings down to 2.5" widths for binding and 1.5" widths for making string blocks.  First up with the narrower strings is this wild, scrappy log cabin with the strings built up around charm square centers.

The quilt got a bright red back, orange (scrap) binding, and a medium sized stipple to hold it all together.

I'm really tickled with how this scrap quilt came together! It will be going toward Covered in Love to provide comfort to a family who has lost a loved one.  CiL has a block drive going from now until the end of the year making Hot and Cold Flip Corner blocks if you want to participate. Check out the drive post for more info.

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Friday.

Monday, November 7, 2016

In Praise of the USPS

Like most modern quilters active in the blogging world I ship and receive fabrics, blocks, etc a lot. Ever since Covered in Love started my dealings with FedEx, UPS, and especially with the USPS increased exponentially. So I want to take a moment to say "thank you" to everyone who works in the postal service.

Most months I receive between twenty and thirty envelopes and small packages of blocks from around the nation, not to mention boxes of quilts returning from the quilter and my own orders of fabric, thread, and the occasional roll of batting.  They arrive at their correct destination, undamaged, almost always in a timely fashion, delivered to my doorstep by my friendly postal delivery lady. She always has a smile and never complains about so frequently having to drive up our long drive way since often there are too many parcels to fit in the box.  She pays the difference on the occasional package with insufficient postage and refuses to let me pay her back.  She knows the trick to shutting our garden gate properly and always takes the time to make sure it's done so the dogs stay on the right side of the fence.

I ship multiple packages a month: blocks for my do. Good Stitches circle, tops to the quilter, baby gifts and other quilt-y stuff.  The postal clerk at the tiny post office is ship from is kind and friendly, calls me by name, and always makes sure things are labeled clearly and packaged securely.  On the one occasion a box I shipped went on the lam the people on the phone were competent and fixed it right away.

Yesterday it occurred to me that I reordered CiL labels from Spoonflower a few weeks ago and they really should have been here by now.  Going back in my email I found the tracking number indicating that they had been shipped, made it a couple of cities over and then apparently got stuck.  I filled out the inquiry form on the USPS website, but lo and behold the missing labels showed up this morning.  I'm not sure what all happened. The packing was pretty beat and the original label was completely illegible, like it got soaked in water and then scraped up.  Somehow it arrived at the North Texas processing facility, unaddressed and open, where someone named Blanca took the time to look at the invoice, repackage it, and send it on its way.  Happily, the fabrics are unscathed.  Oh, and that online inquiry I completed? A the local postmaster called me a day later to help resolve it. Fortunately I could tell him the mail was already found :)

I know that with the volume of packages the USPS handles these things happen sometimes. I'm just glad it never happened until now and that someone made it right.  As Blanca noted, it's always good when shipping something to pack your items inside a bag or saran wrap and include inside that an additional address label in case they become separated from their outer packaging.

Thank you to each person who works for the USPS (and other shipping companies), who handle our packages with efficiency and care, who place mail where it won't get rained on and latch our garden gates, who make sure that 99% of the mail gets where it's going smoothly and who try to rescue the 1% that doesn't.  We appreciate you!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Red, White, and Stars

Some of July's block drive star quilts are finally ready to make their debut!   You all did a fantastic job of sending in patriotic stars to make comfort quilts for Covered in Love.

Here's the second one, although it looks quite similar to the one above.  Each of these quilts measures a generous 60"x72".

I was fortunate to happen upon some patriotic fabrics on sale at a local shop and scoop them up for backings.

One of the chaplains was just telling me recently about a quilt they gifted to a patient's brother. Knowing he'd been in the military they grabbed a more patriotic one (I think it must have been this one) and the family just couldn't get over it. The chaplain said, "you would have thought we'd given them a full military funeral right there in the hallway!"

As the Vietnam and Korea vets get older we see more and more of them in the hospital and I'm sure these quilts will be making their way to people who feel a special connection to the USA and what that red, white, and blue flag means to them.

There will be one more quilt to show from the July blocks, and another partial quilt of leftovers.  Plus, Rosemarie from California sent in a complete small top with pretty blue sashing which found its backing in the yardage Kathy from Indiana sent along.  This darling little quilt got a stipple and a label and will no doubt make someone feel very loved.

Remember, Covered in Love gifts quilts to the families of patients who pass away in the hospital. You can find out more here.  Our November block drive just started if you want to sew along! You can find more details on the main post.

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Friday.