Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Handmade Christmas Quest

By far, this was the biggest undertaking in my handmade Christmas quest.  Perhaps a little background is in order...

My brother-in-law is a U.S. Naval Officer.  He is the son of a retired U.S. Air Force major.  Through these adventures, he has sailed the seven seas, been around the world, and lived in ten (count them - 10) U.S. states.  As I was making my handmade Christmas list, I knew I wanted to honor his service in some way.  But how?  (In my best Boris Karloff voice imitation.)

I ran across two WONDERFUL website resources.  Dawn's Quilting Clip Art has an entire page dedicated to U.S. state quilt blocks.  Yay!  Equally awesome is BellaOnline, which also has an entire page of state blocks.  As you go through each site, you will find that some states have more than one block.  I made a list of the many locales my BIL has lived, and started in making a coaster set.  (Easy to pack for the plane ride home.)

Here we have Arkansas and North Dakota.  Fairly simple.  No stress...right?

Then, there's Ohio and Oklahoma.  Again, not too hard.  As you might see, my Ohio star ended up a bit small.  What to do?  Border, anyone?

California and Indiana.  This is about the time I started to feel cocky.  Even though each little block was different, I was doing pretty darn good!  Cali got a little large, so it is trimmed to be the same size.  Indiana made me do a little dance.  You see, up to this point, I was merely going from clip art.  No measurements, no directions.  Just little ol' me.  Indiana took an entire afternoon, but I had plenty of time!  Christmas was still two weeks away!  Right???

North Carolina just about made me start drinking.  I knew it would be challenging.  The website gave paper piecing instructions.  I SHOULD have read them.  I had never paper pieced before, thought I could figure it out.  Well, the first block I threw away.  This is the second version.  Not bad for a first (or second) try.  Yes, the seams are slightly off.  Did I mention there are 64 (that's SIXTY-FOUR) teeny tiny little pieces in this 5-inch block???  Hence the drinking.  Kidding!  ;)

Virginia and Rhode Island were the next paper pieced blocks.  Not perfect, but got my groove going.

And then, (dramatic pause)

There was Utah.  (dramatic music)

Let me just say that I don't do curved seams.  I like angles.  They make sense to me.  This one laid in my sewing room for days and days.  Not circles...NOOOOOO!!!!

But, I did it.  An afternoon of tracing circles, parts of circles, trimming circles, and running in circles screaming in agony.  A little applique work, and TA-DA!  

TEN United States quilt block coasters.  All handmade.  By me.  And, perhaps the best part of all...all out of fabrics from my scrap box.  Yippee!  Santa has room to bring me more fabric!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twelve Days of Gift-Mas

Oh my goodness!  Am I the only one out there still sewing Christmas gifts???

It is down the wire now, less than 5 days to go.  Here at The Little Shop, my sewing machine has been smoking!  My hands are decrepit from handwork.  But, we are in the home stretch.  

I have three more handmade gifts to share, wrap, and put under the tree.

The first is a tissue box cover for my son.  He looooooooves dinosaurs, and when I found this fabric buried in my stash, I knew I had to do something with it.  His room is done in bright primary colors, so I think this is perfect for him.  I found the pattern in an OLD book on my quilt shelf by Marti Michell titled A Quilter's Christmas.  Really easy and quick to put together.  I guess from the title of the book, I should have done this project in Christmas fabric.  Dino-Christmas?  Sure!

The next project is for my sister-in-law.  She travels a lot.  (A lot meaning more than me.  I don't go very far.)  She also loves jewelry.  So, put those two together and you get a traveling jewelry bag.  Another super easy, super quick project.  The pattern is from Legacy Patterns, and it's been sitting in my sewing room for several years waiting for me to do something with it.  Lovely!  Done!

This next one comes from my own little brain.  (That's why it is simple!  Ha!)  My niece has an American Girl doll.  Her doll's name is Emily, and she is a British character who comes to America in 1944 during the second World War.  Google to the rescue!  I looked up quilts from that time period and discovered a great deal of feedsacks still being used from the Depression era.  While the fabrics in this doll quilt are not actual reproduction fabrics, they remind of the same colors and cheerfulness.  Plus, I always look for an excuse to play with pink fabric!  I hope my niece and Emily enjoy this doll quilt.

I still have two gift projects up in my sewing room with a calendar that keeps tormenting me.  One project is almost finished, one is perplexing me.  I don't have time to be perplexed!

Till next time, Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gifts #3 and #4 -- DONE!

The countdown continues!  I am closer to my goal of making something handmade for every family member.  

This week was Dad's turn.  He is the family cook and really enjoys bold, traditional holiday colors.  So, what better than a pair of potholders!

First, we have the LeMoyne star.

I am pleased with the piecing of the star, but not so much my binding job.  (Mom says Dad won't even notice!)  I love the fabrics, all from my stash, all with snowflakes.  Hopefully, these can be used throughout the winter months.

Then, we have the Ohio star.  Fitting, since that's where we live.  I've also seen this block called the North star.
This one was supposed to be bigger, which is how it earned itself some borders.  :)  I  improved my binding on this one, by the way.  Live and learn.

So, off I go to wrap Dad's gift.  Next on my list, my sister-in-law and my son!  Stay tuned!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Countdown to Christmas - Ready, Set, GO!

If you follow me on Facebook, you already know that I have made an early New Year's resolution.  Allow me to quote myself:
"I will not wait until December to begin my Christmas sewing projects."
That's right.  I procrastinated. 
However, I am determined to complete my list of projects because I am just that stubborn!  I want to make something handmade for each family member, not only because it shows my love for each person.  But, it also helps out the family finances.  You see, I am using fabric from my stash, and have purchased almost nothing for these projects.  We're not talking king-sized quilts here.  Just small little things that I think are special.  To start with...
Project #1:  Log Cabin Kitty Pillow
Nothing too fancy, but I've had these kitty prints in my sewing room for several years just waiting to be put to good use.  My brother loves his cat, and I hope he likes this gift.

 Project #2:  Air Force Pillow
My father-in-law is a retired officer of the Air Force.  These were two perfectly square panels that I bought YEARS ago.  They just scream, "Make me a pillow!"  And so, I did.
I still need to sew up the final edges, but then they're done.  The only things I purchased were the pillow forms, but I had coupons for both of them.  Yay!
Countdown is on!  I have a little over two weeks to finish.  Will I make it?  Honestly, I'm not sure.  I will have to tune in again to find out!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Double Whammy

I'm still here!!!!

After finishing our "World Tour" with The Little Shop of Stitches visiting a number of craft shows around town, I had every intention of getting back into a routine.  I had a list of gifts I wanted to stitch for friends and family, new products to get uploaded to my etsy shop, and lovely topics to blog about.

Apparently, the Big Man Upstairs had other plans for me.

I spent ALL of last week laid up on the couch with a double upper respiratory infection.  Nasty!  Sinus infection and bronchitis all rolled up into one germy package.  Nothin' pretty about it.

Needless to say, I got ZERO things crossed off my to-do list.

I am just now feeling half-human again.  Now, where is that to-do list??