Cardboard Box Snowmen!

Every year about this time, I like to create some crafty element to add to my Christmas Decorations.  This year, while perusing Pinterest, I saw some adorable snowmen made from huge chunks of wood.  Had I still been living in Wisconsin, finding logs like this would have been easy, but living in Texas posed a problem.

These guys are so cute, but I really wanted to create something that was not so heavy and utilized items I had easily at hand.

So, first, I looked around for a basic shape – and found three rectangular boxes in the garage.  Taping them shut and then applying paper mache’ gave them texture and an easily paintable surface.

The first coat of paint was Gesso, subsequent coats were simple acrylics.  Once the white had dried, I painted the faces.  Note in the picture below that I then decide that my snowmen could do double-duty as ghosts for next Halloween!

In the image above you can see how they look before and after painting.

After the paint was all dried, I brushed on two coats of Modge Podge – now they can weather about any (indoor) storm!

Next up were the hats and scarfs.  I dug around in my stash and found some fleece in Green, Yellow and Burgundy.

It was easy to take the extra cut offs, cut them into strips almost to the end and then put them inside the (inside out) hat and sew it down.  When the hat is turned right side out, the tassle looks very cute!

NOTE: the boxes are quite a bit larger than a human head, so it is important to take that into account when making the hats.

The scarves were very simply a strip of the same fabric that was cut into fringe on the ends.

Lastly, we used a timer’d set of white lights and batting to create a lighted snow blanket effect.

By making my snowman family in this manner, I was able to:

  1. Use items from around the house
  2. Save money – this project cost me less than $20.00
  3. Create decorations that are light and easy to store
  4. Make decorations that serve a dual purpose – the ghosts will be fun next Halloween (I painted the back sides with Ghost faces)

What fun projects are you thinking up this Holiday Season?

2015 Veteran's Quilt Raffle

If you ask 10 different quilters why they quilt, you may just get 10 different answers. Recently, I asked some quilting friends just this question and here is what they said:

The majority of people that shared said they quilt because it is therapeutic followed by:

  • For family an friends
  • As creative expression
  • For pleasure
  • To give to charity
  • It is relaxing
  • For Sale

One person even said that “(quilting) keeps me off the streets and out of the pool halls”.

Ultimately, it is plain to see that this time-consuming and not inexpensive hobby is a labor of love for the majority of us.  It is interesting to see that selling quilts is not a high priority.  I am not surprised at this.  Most people I know quilt for the love of quilting and would rather not be held to a schedule or quota.

So, why do I quilt?

I tend to quilt mostly for the top two answers – quilting as a matter of self expression that then can be shared with others would most accurately sum it up.  It is with this in mind that I get to the real reason for my post – Charity Quilts.

My most recent charity donation is a quilt I call: Wave the Flag which was featured in a post “So, what’s been going on?”

This quilt was donated to the Johnson County Veterans Support Organization.  This new group of dedicated individuals consists of a variety of backgrounds.  The organizers represent Veterans, families of Veterans, local officials and folks that just plain understand the need to showcase our brave men and women and assist them where they can.

Because I am a firm believer that charity begins at home, I was more than honored when asked if I wanted to donate a quilt for their Veteran’s Day Event and dinner held on November 7, 2015.

Wave the Flag is a custom-designed quilt featuring custom feathered long-arm quilting. Our Veterans are all one-of-a-kind, so it is only right to raffle off a one-of-a-kind quilt.

When the festivities had concluded, Wave the Flag was awarded to Jack Albrycht (pictured below).

I urge you to contact this great group to check in as a Veteran or to join in to assist with this great cause.

Next year, I hope I am asked again to participate in this way – there is great satisfaction in giving to your community- this is just one of the reasons why I quilt.

Hippie Rainbow Flowers Quilt

Hippie Rainbow Flowers – Applique Quilt

The Hippie Rainbow Flowers quilt is a custom-pieced and applique lap quilt with lots of color and texture.

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that I should be writing down how I come about creating some of my custom quilt designs.  So, whenever possible, I will do my best to document their creation.

The title is a mouthful, but it surely describes this fun little quilt. Actually this quilt was not at all planned and came as an after thought to the Double Hour Glass Quilt I made from the fat quarters I received from my row-by-row submission.

Choosing Fabrics

After the Double Hour Glass was completed, I was left with several batik fat quarters that were a little different theme – they leaned toward Hippie.

The more I looked at these fabrics, the more I saw that they were really not each of one color, but held different color combinations depending on where in the quarter I looked.

At first I felt this was a stumbling block in using these fabrics to create a quilt, but then I began to see a pattern.  I saw that overall I was looking at a rainbow – or even a rainbow-hued sunset.  It was at this point I decided to cut it all up and see where this would lead.

So, before I get into the meat of the design, I would like to have a talk with all my OCD, waste-not type of friend quilters out there.  Yes, you know who you are.  One of my biggest issues with working with Fat Quarters is that


Do your math first!

Before cutting up the quarters, I did some easy math and found that if I cut the quarters in 3″ strips and then 3″ squares, I would have ultimately no waste.  I love this idea!  If you remember from the Double Hourglass Quilt, I was so excited with my 3 yards of accent fabric was used totally used up with no waste.  It’s the little things that make our type happy!

Group your colors

The next challenge was separate the blocks into color groupings.  If you have the nuances of color like I did in this quilt, it can take some time and a bit of trial and error, but it is important to note to let your eyes be happy and don’t overthink it too much.

Walk away, get a cup of coffee- pet the cat and come back in a while to take another look

This alone can help to confirm or deny your color choices.  I used this technique both when grouping colors and then when deciding on row configurations.  Once the colors were put in order, I counted the general groups R O Y G B I V


Lay out the design

Because there were so many little squares, I put my design board over a bed and arranged (and re-arranged) until I liked the look.  Again, see the note above about going to drink coffee with the cat.

Woo Hoo!

This is the WOO HOO moment when you realize that the toughest part is over. Now I can actually see the road ahead – it’s time to start sewing this section!

After the middle was complete, I took my measurements (top middle bottom) so I could measure my thick, white-on-white borders.  I purposely went with a very thick border so that the flowers would have a landing spot.  The white-on-white is a very large pattern of swirlies which help to soften the geometric blockiness of the sunset(rise)

Creating custom borders

The second border consists of strips that were left over from the original Double Hourglass Quilt.  The rainbow colors and batiks were a good fit. I tried to mirror the internal color flow with the outside border, but besides for going in the same order, I didn’t fuss over it too much.

I also utilized scraps from that quilt as well as some remaining fat quarters to create the flowers.

The flowers were designed using the AccuQuilt Go! Rose of Sharon #2 (55382) die.  Again, I cut out various colors an sizes then auditioned them as a spray on the top right and bottom left of the quilt top. I used iron-on adhesive to affix the flowers prior to quilting and then used the long arm to applique them in place.

The quilting patterns used to finish this up included echo quilting around the flowers, feathers up and down the white-on-white border and finally a free motion swirl pattern over the mosaic sunset/rise.  Overall, this was a fun quilt to create.

Overall, this quilt is:

Dimensions: 52″ x 69″

Center Blocks: 3″x3″ each – 15 across and 20 down

White on White Border: 6″ wide

Colored Border: 3″ Wide

Rainbow Time – Double Hourglass Quilt

I love every quilt I make – OK, maybe it takes finishing some to see their true beauty, but I have to say that this recent quilt has got to be at the top of my list!  I call it:  Rainbow Time

I don’t normally blog about all the quilts I create, but this one proved to have some interesting twists and turns.

As many of you know, I won a prize for turning my Row by Row H20 quilt for 2015 into Sandy’s Quilt Shop in Joshua TX.

My prize was:

25 Fat quarters of my choice
3 yards of any one fabric

I was so excited, and at first (with basket in hand) I was overwhelmed at what to do! In no time; however, I remembered a quilt I saw that I knew I had to make – the double hourglass. From that point on it was easy. I simply chose vibrant rainbow colored batiks and a gorgeous mottled background fabric.

The fabric families are:

Fat Quarters: Wilmington Prints Batavia Batiks: Mini Dot and Flourish

3 Yards: Wilmington Prints Essentials: Cosmos Lt. Ivory

As many of you may also know, I just don’t do kits or patterns – I have way too much fun starting a quilt and seeing where it will take me. This quilt did not disappoint.

I started by making 42 blocks using my Fons and Porter Half and Quarter Ruler. They consisted of 3″ strips sewn together then the triangle was cut and then they were reassembled in the double hourglass configuration.

As a long-arm quilter, I appreciate when the BACK of a quilt is pressed as flat as possible. The image below shows the blocks from this vantage point.

All this seems sort of normal and regular, and in some ways it was until I looked at all my scraps from cutting out the half triangles. I just hate to waste and decided that there had to be a way to cut them up to form a border.

YEP! It worked like a charm.

Of course, I did not have quite enough to do the entire border, but that was fine because I had enough fabric left from the fat quarters I used to make some interesting piano keys in each color to frame two corners.

After the top was pieced, I then had to think about backing and quilt patterns.  While I love to do custom quilting, I decided to do an edge to edge flourish pattern that added some softness to compliment all the sharp lines and edges of the top.  For the backing, I took a risk and went with a floral pattern that has the same type of mottled background as my accent fabric for the top.  Now the quilt is, in effect, reversible.  There is a funky, colorful side and a more demure, classy side.

Like I said, this quilt was fun, challenging and I loved it right from the start – how many of the quilts you make are a joy from beginning to end?

Quilt Restoration Project – Sunbonnet Sue and Green Boats Part 2

This is the follow-up post to the first part of this segment:Quilt Restoration Project – Sunbonnet Sue and Green Boats Part 1.

As we talked about in the first segment, the initial repair work for both of these beautiful quilts was to remove the damaged and flimsy fold-over binding and put new binding on with mitered corners. Also, while I did try some spot-cleaning in some areas, the worst stains will just have to reside on the quilt as badges of the love they have received.  These are both hand-quilted and should never be put in a washing machine.

The quilts already showed an amazing transformation!

Now that the fragile batting and edges of these quilts are protected with a new binding, it is time to repair the rips, tears and holes that are a result of years of love.

It is important to note that because of the age and condition of these quilts, decisions needed to be made on how best to repair each element so no further damage occurred in areas were there were rips, tears and holes.

One such decision centered on a long rip on the sashing of the sailboat quilt.

In this case, I had purchased fabric that was probably the same color when this quilt was new; however, after years of use, the color had faded a great deal.  So, after checking the integrity of the existing fabric in that area (which was actually quite solid) and previewing the quilt with this fabric, I came to the conclusion that the quilt would retain much more of its original beauty if I sewed this rip instead.  To place the fabric over one section of the sashing would make it stick out because of both its color and texture.  There is no way to match the hand-quilting and easing that has occurred to this quilt over time.  All in all, I was pleased with the result.

At this point, the only additional issues with the Sailboat quilt was some very small rips which were easily hand sewed shut.  I opted for this method whenever possible instead of adding patches.  Overall this kept the focus at the beautiful Boats and Dollies and not on a plethora of patches.  I was fortunate that the fabric overall (except the binding) was in pretty good condition.

The Sailboat quilt was not the only one with large sections of damage.  The Bluebonnet Sue quilt had a large, gaping hole that went through all 3 layers.  Again, I had some choices and decided that instead of trying to draw attention away from the area (mostly because there was no way to do this), I would add something to the quilt.

My solution?

First, I filled the center with batting to match the amount used in the rest of the quilt.  I then used the same fabric from the binding to create a heart to cover the hole front and back.

This makes a charming addition to the quilt that does not take away from the original work done by the family’s great-grandmother.

At this point, my attention turned to the Sunbonnet Sue appliques.  After speaking with the owner of this quilt, it was decided to add only the fabric needed to secure the quilt and keep further damage from happening.  This was a good decision when considering the love put into it by the original quilter as well.  To replace entire designs would have taken away from the beautiful, vintage quality.

Each of the dollies above had ripped loose from the machine applique that attached them.  To fix this, I created a template for the dress bottom and the hat band (the last one had ripped there as well).  After using an iron-on adhesive to attach these bands, I hand sewed using black thread to give the same look as the machine-stitching of the original.

NOTE: Because this quilt was already sandwiched, all sewing had to be by hand with the exception of attaching the binding to the front.

As you can see, the final pictures of both these quilts present a look that does not detract from the original version.  When we started this project, there were two recommendations:

1. Do nothing and lay them on a cute chair in the corner as decoration

2. Replace the binding and repair all damaged areas in the best way possible while attempting to keep the same look that their great-grandmother intended.

Ultimately, I am so glad they went with option (2) as the great-grand daughter can use them lovingly and show them off to her friends.

I was so excited to have the honor of working on these beautiful, old quilts and will be sad to see them go.

Do you have a family heirloom that needs repair?  Maybe it’s time to take it to your local quilt professional to see what can be done to preserve your own family heritage.

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