Sunday, March 29, 2015

Balloon Girl

My daughter-in-law mentioned having seen a photo of a girl holding a large bunch of balloons which hid her head entirely. I don't know if I found the same photo, but I found one that matched the description and it became the inspiration for this wall art.
I pretended I knew exactly what I was doing and sat down to start this without much planning. Sometimes I'm brave like that.

The sky background was a batik fat quarter. That determined the size of this project. The grass is a tone on tone print. I cut two pieces and seamed them with a wave and a dip to make an interesting horizon. I often do raw edge applique on my machine, but didn't want raw edges this time, hence the double thickness of grass, balloons, dress and body parts.

I used stiff interfacing instead of quilt batting. I think this was leftover from a purse project. It was easy to work on and didn't require use of the even feed walking foot when appliqueing or stippling.

The dress fabric was leftover from wall hanging I recently finished (here) and the balloons were fat quarters from Joann's. For each balloon, I sewed two pieces together in a shape somewhere between a circle and an oval. Nothing, precise, I just winged it. I sewed the seam completely, trimmed it very close to the stitching line, pulled the two layers away from one another and made a snip in the center of one side of each balloon. Inserting the tip of the scissors in the that hole, I made slits on the backsides of the balloons so that I could turn them right side out. This is much easier that sewing 3/4 around something, turning it right side out and sewing the opening closed.

Before using the machine's applique stitch on each balloon,  I cut twine from my card making supplies in colors that were close to each balloon. After knotting one end of the twine and sticking it under the balloon, I appliqued each balloon in place. I should back up and explain that I had played around with placement and pinned everything while deciding what arrangement would work. I unpinned the parts and began stitching things in place in reverse order (legs before dress, rear balloons before closer ones).

This project would have been easier if I had decided to stipple the background before attaching the body but I was winging this. I stippled (my Viking Designer SE has a stitch setting for this) around her body and then back and forth across the sky. The same thing was done to the grass.  I used two full bobbins on the stippling alone.
I had at least 6 hours in this project when I quit for the day yesterday. All that was left to do was the binding.

Do you ever think about a nearly finished project as you're getting ready for bed and decide something isn't quite right? That is what I did last night. The girl in the photo was holding the balloons in such a way that one arm wasn't seen at all, just the arm hanging down by her side. That is how my rendition looked last night, but it bothered me that the balloons were just sort of there. It wasn't clear that she was holding them.

This morning I made another sleeve and hand, then undid some of the stitches on the yellow and pink balloons. After tucking the sleeve and hand into position, I re-appliqued the balloons and stitched the new hand and side of the sleeve. I am much happier now.

I tied knots in the free ends of the balloon strings and trimmed the excess. The binding was cut from a multi-colored batik print that had most of the colors of the balloons in it.
If my daughter-in-law likes this, it will most likely hang against a pink wall. If she has enough in that room already, it will hang on a yellow wall in my house. Either way, this project was fun to work on and makes me happy when I look at it finished.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cadbury Egg holder for Easter

I really enjoy Connie Stewart's Stampin' Up blog and videos. Her blog is Simply Simple Stamping  This link takes her to her home page, not the specific project I am sharing here. Connie often reminds her readers and viewers to work with what they have on hand, and she isn't afraid to show her uh-ohs. I am about to show you mine.

Here is the Easter Egg Throne Box that Connie featured last year. I am already picturing more versions of this with frames around the oval opening or some bling added, depending on who the the recipient will be.
This project begins with a strip cut at 11" x 2", scored at 4.5" and 6.5"; and what will become the egg holder, cut at 3.5" x 3.5" and scored at .75" on all four sides.
Stampin' Up's 1.25" Scallop Circle Punch was used to make the hole for the Cadbury egg placement. I drew light pencil lines so that I could eyeball the center after placing the punch over this area.
One side of the box/egg holder will need to be folded under so that the punch can reach the center of the square. Yes, it will take a bite out of the side, but it won't matter.
A tip I learned from Connie's various tutorials is to trim down the flaps that will be glued when forming boxes. The cuts were made straight on the creases and cut on angles to make the tabs narrow on one end. If it helps, think of those shapes as cups, like Solo drink cups.
 Adhesive is added to the tabs, then they are turned in and glued behind the side panels.
This looks like an inverted box, a box lid, or in the case, a nesting spot for the Cadbury egg to sit.
We're getting to my Uh-Oh moment.  I added tape runner to the 11" strip along the scored lines. Make them on the larger areas, not inside the 2" x 2" center square. Place the side of the egg holder that has the bite out of it against one of panels on the 11" strip so that it doesn't show on the finished item.
With the sides folded up, the egg holder is securely in place. Oops! See those nice straight sides? They weren't cut on top with the Scallop Tag Topper Punch.
I gently pulled the sides away from the egg holder insert and cut the tops with the tag topper punch. 
Ahhh, that's better!  These tops could have been done with a simple hole punch and maybe a corner rounder but I had the tag topper punch out and ready to use. 
Oh sugar beets! Another Oops! It would have been easier to cut the oval viewing window before this was assembled. Oh well. This wasn't impossible to handle, just awkward to photograph while holding it all in place. This is the Extra Wide Oval Punch being used.
The 1.25" Scallop Circle Punch  is used again, this time on yellow to make the components of the chick. Two circles are cut out of yellow and then a corner of yellow paper is placed as shown to make the chick's feathers on the top of her head.

The same oval punch is used again to cut the egg that goes on the front of this project.
I added some dots with a pink Tombow marker on the pink egg, cut it in half and then cut a jagged edge into each straight edge of the newly hatched egg. I used an orange stamp (origin and color unknown) to tinge the edges of the chick's yellow pieces.
I didn't have a small square punch, so I randomly cut a small square of orange paper and scored it to form a beak.
After gluing the feathers behind the chick's head, I cut down into the shape and bent the strips back and forth to make them a bit more feathery. I used a tape runner to attach the beak and a marker for the eyes. After gluing the chick in place, I put the other yellow circle on the back to neaten things up

I used Stampin' Up's Teeny Tiny Wishes to stamp Happy Easter, then cut it out using Window Word and Modern Label Punches. I thought I was going to use the Note Tag Punch as shown, but it seemed too large.
After gluing the layered greeting onto the white tag, I cut the edges off and used a corner rounder to make the tag. A hole punch was used so that the tag could hang from twine.  The chick and egg shell were attached with pop dots.

Now if I can just leave that Cadbury egg alone, I can continue preparing for a Happy Easter. I happen to love Cadbury eggs but one of them is 4 Weight Watcher points. When your total point allotment for the day is 26, four points for one candy is a lot. I'm not saying one or two won't be eaten, but I hope NOT to eat them mindlessly!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Doll Quilts

When life gives you scraps, you are supposed to make quilts (or so an old saying goes), and if life gives you little scraps, you make doll quilts.

In both cases, the pieced strips were leftovers from recent baby quilts. We are expecting a granddaughter at the end of April. I had only planned to make one doll quilt, but the strips were calling to me so I used up both piles.

This one is from the quilt scraps of the baby quilt made for her baby shower. The back is plain muslin.

This doll quilt did require a few more squares to be sewn together, but they were already cut. I'm not sure if the over-cutting of squares was my mistake or an error in the directions. Either way, it worked out fine and I didn't have much waste.

The pillow itself is two pieces of 4" x 6" fabric with layers of batting folded over and stuffed inside.

In both cases, I had leftover pieces of batting that were almost the exact size of these doll quilts, as well as the backing fabric being almost perfect in size. They were definitely meant to be!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baby quilt

My sewing buddy and I used to go on quilt shop hops and take classes together that featured all types of sewing. While we really enjoyed those events, we over-bought. With the pace of our lives, juggling work and raising families, did we honestly think we had time to do it all? Apparently we did think that, or maybe that we'd never see such gorgeous fabric again! or that we couldn't pass up a kit because it was such a good deal!

I don't regret any of the classes or shop hops, and certainly not the time spent with my friend. For a long time though, I did feel guilty about fabric (or yarn, or paper, or beads....I have many hobbies) that was sitting unused. Sometimes the intended use was no longer was suitable. The small child that was going to get the nap quilt is now in college, or maybe the project is something nobody wears or uses now.

I changed my outlook on this. It is okay to give supplies to someone or donate them to a group. Tastes change. Fabric bought for a quilt in a room that was painted red isn't likely to work in a room that is now mint green. A big thing for both of us to accept was that it is okay to break up a kit. Good grief, we were such rule followers! Love two fabric selections but don't care about the others? Ditch or donate them and keep what you love. You might actually use those two fabrics.

I like making baby quilts. They are for happy occasions and because of their size, they come together in a reasonable amount of time for me. If I had known how many I would make over the years, I would have photographed all of them and kept count. Oh well, they all made me happy so what does it matter?

The fabric for this quilt was in a kit and has been in my closet for at least 15 years, probably closer to 20 or more. I did change the pattern a bit (whooo hooo! Another broken rule!!) and am very happy with the result.

There were many leftover squares in strips from that inner border that I initially tossed into the wastebasket. old habit returned and I fished them out.

The good news is that I didn't put them back into the fabric bin. I made a doll quilt. My granddaughter is not born yet, but her future doll has a quilt, and by the end of the day, will likely have a pillow and a pillowcase.

Now if Papa would just get going on making the doll bed....

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wall quilt, no longer a UFO!

UFO = Unfinished Object or sometimes Utterly Forgotten Object.

Way back a year of undetermined date....I learned to quilt. This wall hanging or table square was the learning piece. I learned many thing in that class and intended to finish the quilt within days of the last class.

Ahh, yes...the road to hell and good intentions....let's not go there.

It was up to us to decide placement of the 5 blocks. I assembled them in a different arrangement and the more I looked at them, the less I liked them. I think the two blocks on the right were reversed but I don't remember. What I do recall is that the arrangement didn't look balanced. I think the three blocks with the deep pink (almost red) were in the middle and bottom.

Everyday life intruded and the quilt was set aside. Then pushed aside. Then bagged and stuck in a closet. On one closet cleaning frenzy, I took it out, picked out the stitches and rebagged the project. Eventually I reset the blocks but still didn't finish it even though I still really liked it.

I finally quilted it a few days ago, but by machine. There is a time and place for hand quilting, and a time and place to get a project done and in use.

Pink and white against a yellow wall isn't the best choice for a photo, especially on a gray day, but here it is.

For now, these colors work with Easter decor that is set out and about throughout my home. I think I will enjoy it as a table topper when I change out what hangs on this rod. This wall is less than 32 inches wide and is between my kitchen and living room. Various quilted panels hang here throughout the year and their widths vary greatly. Using a cafe rod and clips allows me accommodate any of the sizes, and sometimes multiple small, narrow ones.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy Birthday Card

This card is to die for.....or wait....maybe that should read this die is to card for?  Confused? Let's start with the finished card. Isn't it cute?
It began with Stephanie Barnard's Happy Birthday Step-Ups Die Set, Sizzix # 660142. It is a 19 piece Framelit die that looks like this:
Once you've chosen your papers, the rest is easy peasy.

Here are the components. That bit of yellow at the top is twine that matches the bows on the right. The white letters were adhered before I took the photo. No special technique, I just used a tape runner over the back of the words. I like that they are all connected rather than individually gluing each letter.
Here are components assembled and ready to go on the card. I used a marker on the presents and scribbled some color on three of the four bows.
I used pop dots on the gifts and cupcakes, glue dots on the ends of the twine that hold the banner and under the bows at the end of the string.  For no particular reason, rather than cutting the pennants with the die, I used the tree punch from  Stampin' Up and a standard (small) hole punch.

This die is going to get a lot of use and with my horde ...abundance ... collection of other small dies and stamps to decorate the panel on the left, I will be able to vary the designs.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Easter Bunny diving into a Fry Box basket

Back in October I thought I would need an intervention because of Stampin' Up Fry Boxes. See posts about that here and here.

Thanks to YouTube and searching for Easter crafts with Stampin' Up punches and dies, I found directions for making this:
I used a wood grain embossing folder on brown paper before using the fry box die. It worked fine on the darker brown paper, but when I tried a lighter shade from the same paper assortment (from Joann's, not Stampin' Up), the paper crumbled on some of the creases. Perhaps the dye or process used on various shades make some papers hold up better.

One out of three attempts was successful but rather than waste more paper, I decided the plan paper was good enough. A wood grain stamp as seen in France Martin's YouTube tutorial here would be a better choice.
I didn't have the exact punches used in the video, but close enough to come up with something cute. I made six of them.
Here is one filled with a bit of crinkled paper "grass" and a few pieces of Easter candy. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cute chicks

I made cute chicks for some of my favorite peeps today!
The original idea and dimensions were found on YouTube, courtesy of Deb Valder. She has some great ideas on YouTube and I will definitely be going back to check out more of them.

I used Stampin' Up punches and a scoring board to make these, but you could adapt the idea to work with what you have.

I began with a strip of yellow paper cute 2" wide by 7.25" long. I scored this at 3" from each end.
The 2" strip fits perfectly in the scalloped tag topper. Punch both ends.
The 1.25" scallop circle was used to make the wings. Each wing was cut in half.  The owl builder punch was used for the eyes, white being the larger circle, black was the medium circle. 
Boho blossoms punch and orange paper created the feet and beaks. The blossom was trimmed to the somewhat oval shape shown next to the punch, then folded in half to form the beak. 
I made five the first time and liked them so much, I made ten more right away. Here are the components ready to assemble. I used glue dots on everything. Liquid glue would have been more economical and would have worked, but I decided I wanted to take this to my knitting group tonight so I was pressed for time. 
Here is a chick with face, wings and feet attached. Glue dots attach the wings to the inside of the front of the chick. Dots on the back half of the boho blossom hold the feet to the bottom. 
Time to add the candy. I used a glue dot on this too. Rather appropriate to have a chocolate egg inside the chick, don't you think?
I used white to tie the top together. I deliberately frayed the yarn but untwisting it.
Last touch was to add a white highlight to each eye. A small touch, but I think it makes a big difference. 
The flock, in V-formation, ready to go to knitting. They were a hit with the ladies.