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December 22, 2010

Holy Crap.

I was browsing around on my blogger page today and noticed I've had over 10,000 hits since I started blogging in April. I think that merits a celebration, don't you? And by celebration, I mean giveaway. Stay tuned. I'm going to retreat into my lair over the holidays and cook up something good for you guys...maybe multiple somethings ;) *rubs fingertips ominously together like Mr. Burns*

December 21, 2010

Super Mario Mushroom Pillow Pattern

I hope you can see everything okay in this diagram. I didn't want to color too darkly or else you wouldn't be able to see the graph lines. The finished pillow will be 20" x 20".


Here's what you're going to need (I put the colors I used in parentheses out to the side):

For the 1-Up Mushroom:
(36) 1.5" x 1.5" green squares (Kona Grass Green)
(38) 1.5" x 1.5" white squares (Kona White)
(24) 1.5" x 1.5" flesh-colored squares (Kona Flesh Pink)
(68) 1.5" x 1.5" black squares (Kona Black)

For the Background (Kona Medium Gray):
(2) 20.5" x 3.5" strips
(2) 6.5" x 1.5" strips
(2) 7.5" x 1.5" strips
(2) 5.5" x 2.5" strips
(4) 4.5" x 1.5" strips
(2) 3.5" x 7.5" strips

For the Lining (Kona Medium Gray): 
(1) 20.5" x 20.5" piece
(note:  this piece isn't a necessity, but I like to add it to the back of the mushroom panel to cover up all the raw seams on the inside)

For the Back (It's an envelope enclosure. Kona Medium Gray):
(1) 12" x 20.5" piece
(1) 18" x 20.5" piece

I wanted the background to be rather solid and have as little pieceing as possible, so sometimes I assembled a single row at a time and then attached the background strips to each end, and sometimes I assembled rows in groups and then attached the background pieces. For instance, rows 7-13 were assembled (postage-stamp style), and then I attached the background strips to the sides once that big hunk of squares was completed. Rows 15-16 were done the same way. I tried to put brackets on the right-hand side of the diagram so you can see how the rows/background pieces are grouped.

Here's a close-up of my pillow so you can get a visual:


For the back: Grab one of your back pieces, measure 1" down from the top edge and mark a line. Fold the fabric down so that the crease is on the 1" mark, press, and then fold down once more (another inch). Top stitch along the top and bottom edges of the fold. Repeat for the other back piece.

Layer as follows: Mushroom panel (right side up), Lining piece, and the Back envelope pieces (wrong side up). You'll need to overlap the back pieces in order to get them to line up with the rest of the pillow. Sew a 1/4" seam all the way around the pillow. There's no need to leave an opening, because you'll turn the pillow right side out through the opening in the back.

I intended for this post to be brief & basic rather than a full-fledged tutorial, but if anything's unclear, let me know in the comments and I'll try and draw and extra diagram or two.

December 20, 2010

More Presents!


Just a quick lil' post! I wanted to try my hand at making something totally different from what I normally do, so I designed this fabric necklace for my sister's birthday. The top is paper pieced, sewed, and then flipped right side out. I inserted eyelets at the top to attach the chain, and the rosettes are attached with a tiny bit of hot glue (I found sewing them onto the necklace distorted the shape a little).

The back.


Bird's eye view.

December 19, 2010

Super Mario Mushroom Pillow!


Do do do, do-do do-do, do do do do do do do do do do....thanks to this pillow, I've been humming the Super Mario Brothers theme in my head all weekend. I've had a Mario quilt designed on graph paper for over a year now (for my sister), but since I haven't made any progress on it, I decided to make her a Super Mario-themed pillow instead. 1-Up Mushrooms were like gold back in the glory days of 1990's Mario gaming, so I thought that would be a fun icon to start with. Plus the design and color scheme will mesh with a living room a little better than something crazy like a koopa troopa or spikey turtle thing (that's their technical name by the way..."spikey turtle thing") If I have time, I'm going to make a red Super Mushroom for the other side of her couch.



I made this pillow from start to finish yesterday in about 7 hours, so my poor family was a little neglected this weekend :( My husband and dog watched Lord of the Rings and napped on the sofa to pass the time...and then my brother-in-law and I decided to give Ray his Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood game a little early. So I think that made up for my sewing marathon yesterday :)

Look how cozy he is in our living room! I think he wants to stay :(

P.S. If you're interested in a hilarious Mario video, check out this French comedian that drove a go-kart around Paris in a Mario costume. My sister and I watched this together while we were on the phone a couple years ago (her in Kansas City and me in Chicago), and both of us laughed so hard we almost cried when he threw an actual banana peel in the street, haha!

December 17, 2010

The Curtain is Lifted....

...and I can finally reveal all of my Modern Swappers items! I showed all but two of my items in a previous post, but my partner mamamary2 received my package yesterday and I can give you a full disclosure of all my handmade goods now :)


The sewing machine cover was my biggest item, and it was killing me that I couldn't show photos of it!!! Mostly because I get super excited about presents and have a hard time waiting until the appropriate time to hand them over (I gave one of my close friends her Christmas present 2 weeks ago because I'm impatient and couldn't hold out until Christmas!!!), but also because I didn't want everyone to think I was a slacker! I sent photos to the Mods just so they'd know I was participating and not waiting til the last minute.



This cover was copied from one made by lululollylegs. One of the threads in the swap was "name your 5 favorite photos on Flickr". It didn't have to be 5 handmade items, but most of them were. Mary picked that sewing machine cover, and I decided to copy it for her. I wasn't being lazy, scout's honor! It's just that sometimes when I make an inspiration gallery or say I really, really like a certain project, sometimes I would simply love to have that exact project (or something darn similar!) She had it in her Top 5 All-Time favorites, so I thought I'd make one for her and personalize it with her Flickr screen name. I chose her Flickr name for two reasons...one, because it's cute. And two, because I saw where she wrote once in a thread that a lot of people think her screen name is "mammary" (like the gland), so I made the cover and broke down her screen name so people will definitively know it's "mama mary" instead of "mammary gland"...haha!

The solid is Kona Coal.


The backing is Garden Party Dance Floor in Teal
and the binding is Michael Miller Ta Dot in Apple.

The other item I didn't want to reveal was a copy of "Of Love and Other Demons" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I became borderline hysterical with happiness when I saw she was a Spanish Lit major in college and GGM was one of her favorite authors, because he's one of mine too. I took a Latin American Lit class with a professor from the Dominican Republic in college and it changed my life. I will warn you that he's of the "magical realism" school, so his books are a bit different than what you're probably used to...but I whole-heartedly recommend "100 Years of Solitude", "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "Of Love and Other Demons" because they're all amazing and absorbing reads.

...and speaking of books, I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy (read them in 3 days!!!) and if you haven't read them yet, you should! The books are like "1984" meets "The Most Dangerous Game"....really interesting and thought provoking. So step away from the sewing machine, relax, and start a new book during the short holiday break. You won't regret it! They're technically "children's books", but they deal with a lot of adult themes like war, love, loyalty, trust, and hope. What I appreciated most of all is that the author did it in a very honest and non-politicized way. In other words, I didn't feel she was biased and pushing a political agenda....just trying to make general points about the nature of humanity and government. I enjoy political writing/discussions that involve "thought" rather than "anger"...which is probably why I'm more of a candidate-centric person than a party-centric kinda person. Just sayin.

December 16, 2010

Finished 3x6 blocks!

My right arm is now shriveled like a T-Rex's and my neck is hunched up like Quasimodo, but I finished! Yesterday I got home from work, sat down at my sewing command center, and didn't stop until 10:30. I had 4 blocks to go and was running a day late, so I didn't really have any other choice. I hate being late. Speaking of which...it's a funny thing, but I'm always late to MQG functions. And I'm the group leader. I hate being late. I'm a super punctual person...and yet somehow I'm late for almost every single one of our meetings. I don't know how that always happens. Drives me crazy though.

Anywho...

Here are my remaining four five blocks (I just realized I never posted pics of the one I made last week...oopsie poopsie). You can see detailed shots of the other one here.

for miesmama
(orange + gray + white)


for samilou1
 (orange + gray + white)


for littletykesmomma
(orange + blue + gray)


for SayYesJuliet
(aqua + green + gray)


for Mollie 2010
(orange + red)

And below is a mosaic of all my blocks together. As you can see, our merry beehive of quilters was just a tad partial to gray ;)


Ooh...and before I go, can I tell you about a really, really exciting trip I'm about to take?  No one else I tell will be as excited about it as you guys...I can always count on ya'll for an appropriate response ;)

In case you don't know, I grew up in eastern Kentucky. I'll be headed home next week for an extended Christmas stay, and my mom and I are gonna make a day trip out to Paducah! We're gonna make pit stops at a few quilt shops along the way, and then cap off our trip with a visit to the National Quilting Museum and several hours at Hancock's of Paducah. I'm seriously about to pee my pants just thinking about it. If I had a little tail like Whiskers, it would be wagging in excitement. Plus I don't make it home very often, so I'll get some good mom-daughter QT (quality time). Ray's bringing his XBox, so he'll be playing Plants v. Zombies (and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood...but he doesn't know that yet ::wink::) at home while we're gone. He'll be happy as a clam.

I promise to take lots and lots of pictures of the museum + quilt shops. And lots of pictures of gorgeous snowy mountains. I miss snow. And trees. And hills *sigh*

December 15, 2010

Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Don't you hate it when last-minute gifts pop up on you? You think you're done with all your shopping and sewing, and you're feeling kinda productive and pleased with yourself, when WHAM!...you realize you forgot to make a present for your best friend because you're an idiot (I'm obviously referring to myself here).

Well, in case you need some last-minute gift ideas, I've rounded up a couple of my favorite tutorials. There are only 9, but it covers a pretty diverse group including kids, teens, adults, new parents and newlyweds. My hope is that you can find a quick lil' somethin' somethin' to make for just about anyone left on your list :)

(The links correspond with the photos going top to bottom, left to right)

  1. Jersey Ruffle Scarf
  2. Contact Lens Case Tutorial
  3. Sushi Roll Changing Pad & Diaper Wipes Pouch
  4. Take-along Placemat (perfect for newlyweds to picnic with!)
  5. iPad Cover Tutorial
  6. Kindle Cover Tutorial (men)
  7. Kindle Cover Tutorial (ladies)
  8. Double Oven Mitt (when I'm giving one as a Christmas gift, I use non-seasonal fabric so the recipient can use it year-round)
  9. Notebook & Pencil Holder (PERFECT for kids to take on trips)

December 14, 2010

Package for my Modern Swappers partner :)

I finished all my stuff for my Modern Swappers partner. I have lots of pictures. I'm going to let the pictures do the talkin'.

This is all her loot. It includes 6 Innocent Crush FQ's, a cell phone case, 2 flour sack towels, and two mystery items that I can't reveal. If I did, I'd have to kill you. Not really...but it would immediately ruin the surprise for my partner.



Flour sack towel numero uno.



Flour sack towel numero dos.



Both towels. Their dimensions are 22" x 38". Ordered from here.



Cell Phone Case (front)
I'll go ahead and admit this isn't my finest sewing. I threw this together at the last minute because I wanted to include one more small project in my package. I've never made a cell phone case before. My first two efforts crashed and burned. It's kind of lumpy...and I had to use gray thread for the yellow snap tab because I used up all my yellow thread during the first attempts. I almost threw this in the garbage, but I figured I'd let my partner decide if that's where it truly belongs.



Back of craptastic Cell Phone Case.



Top of craptastic Cell Phone Case.



Naturally, gifts from the plaid scottie must be wrapped in plaid paper. I have an obscene amount of plaid Christmas paper....and about 5 rolls of Scottie dog paper :)

December 12, 2010

The "eyes" have it!


Get it? Eyes vs. ayes! wokka wokka!

I decided to take your suggestions and add some button eyes. I bought a pack of these precious little buttons almost four years ago, but never found the right project for them. I'd forgotten I even had them until I was rooting around in my drawers. Isn't it satisfying to use up things from your stash? (especially when it saves you a trip to the store!)


It'll be on it's way to my partner tomorrow. Hope they enjoy it...I'm know I'm going to miss seeing it sitting on my rocking chair :(

December 11, 2010

Presenting....the Wise Owl Pillow!


As you can see, I finished my pillow for the Pillow Talk Swap 4! Yay! The design of this whole pillow pretty much revolved around the three owls, because that's the first part I sketched. I love owls. I've loved them ever since I was little because I was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology, and owls were a symbol of my favorite mythological goddess, Athena. My parents were constantly buying books for me, and if you want a hilarious mental image, when I was 7 they got me a copy of D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and for my 10th birthday I received Bulfinch's Mythology. If you know anything about either of those books, you know they're both HUGE, so I was kind of like Matilda - a tiny girl toting ginormous hardback books to school, my sister's soccer practice, airports, car rides...pretty much everywhere. Random Fact: did you know "bubo" means owl in Latin? Hence the little tin owl being named "Bubo" in the original Clash of the Titans. (I was a Latin minor in college...and not exactly shooting for practicality at the time)

Anywho, moving away from my mental bank of nerdy facts....I noticed my partner had favorited lots of sewn goods on Flickr with whimsical little critters in them, so I thought she'd be just the type of person to appreciate some precious appliqued owls. I didn't want to mess with the center design, so I quilted only the string-pieced border with giant squares set 1/2" apart.


And here's the back, done up in Freespirit's Freckles in Orange. I kind of wanted a solid, but not really, so I went with the Freckles because it looks like a solid from afar...


...and a print up close.


Question: my husband says you can't really tell they're owls and I should add some eyes. At this point in the game, the only way I could do that is to embroider some. Personally I like the look of the solid silhouettes compared to the craziness of the border, but I'd like your opinions because I'm clearly biased.

So what do you think...eyes or no eyes?

December 10, 2010

Hot 'n' Spicy Giveaway!


This is truly a hot & spicy giveaway, because that's the name of one of the bundles ;)

Wanna win one of these fat quarter bundles? (don't we all)

Check out my friend Angela's blog for a chance to enter!

December 8, 2010

Pardon Moi

I just realized I never showed you all photos of the mug rugs I received in the second round of the Mug Rug Swap! It's borderline scandalous that I haven't, considering how wonderful my package was! My partner ended up being Kati aka from the blue chair, and I couldn't be more happy with what she sent me! I honestly can't use enough exclamation points to express my excitement!!! I wish I'd remembered to take a photo of the entire contents, but alas I'm a scatterbrain and completely forgot, so I'll just have to describe it all for you. First of all, she sent me not one, but two gorgeous mug rugs made from some of my absolute favorite fabric lines....Nicey Jane, Katie Jump Rope, Kei Dots, Castle Peeps....not to mention all the linen...gahhh!!! The cuteness is almost too much to bear!!!!


As if she hadn't already gone over and above by making me two awesome mug rugs, she included some fat quarters (in my favorite colorways no less!) of Monaluna's Metro Cafe, some lovely charm size pieces of fabric (including lots and lots of polka dot prints....if I haven't said it before, i LOVE polka dots!!!), and last but certainly not least, some treats for Whiskers! She was thoughtful enough to send my pup some lovin' in the form of chicken-flavored treats and a precious lion squeaky toy. Whiskers loooooves squeaky toys. I haven't decided if he goes for the jugular and rips out the squeaker ASAP because he thinks it's taunting him, or because he thinks it's some kind of hide-and-seek game. Sometimes I swear he thinks I have a stopwatch timing how fast he can tear the squeaker out. He's ruthless!

But I'm sure you want less of me and more of the mug rugs. I promise to stop my incessant typing after I say one final thing. And it's that I can't believe how incredibly lucky I've been with my swap partners this year. I've been continually blessed with abnormally sweet, talented, and generous partners...and I often wonder what the heck I've done to deserve them and their beautiful things! I'm honestly overwhelmed with gratitude every time I receive a package. I've said it before and I'll say it again...I think quilters are some of the most generous and big-hearted people on the planet.

To those of you that have never done a swap before, I highly recommend it! This is the first year I've been involved in swaps on Flickr, and it's been such an overwhelmingly positive experience. You can see my received items here, here, and here.

And here are a few more mug rug pictures to make up for my failure to snap some of the entire package:

Mug Rugs in action...I've been drinking a lot of Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean tea lately.



Back of the wonky mug rug.




Back of the rectangular mug rug.

December 5, 2010

Another work in progress....


I don't have much time, so I'm gonna jot a few brief lines and then post some eye candy for you :) I haven't been blogging much lately for two reasons: 1) it's the holidays, which is a time of complete madness for 99% of the country (especially crafters), and 2) I signed up for waaaaay too many swaps and have been frantically sewing in order to meet all my deadlines. I knew at the time it was a bad idea as I signed up for swap after swap, but I was lured in by the siren call of the beautifully sewn items made in previous rounds.

This is a pillow for the Pillow Talk Swap 4. As soon as I applique some mystery objects in the center (oooh...curious? I'll give you a hint - it's a critter of some sort), I'll be ready to quilt the front and sew it all together! The construction was ridiculously easy. I have a 12" square piece of linen in the center and the aqua sashing is a little over 1/4" wide. I raided my orange and blue scrap bins to string piece the sides and once finished they'll be 4" wide.

 Bottom right corner.


Bird's eye view of the top. 

December 1, 2010

Finally, a quilt!


Maybe it's just me, but it feels like I haven't posted anything about actual quilting in a long time. Whether you've been feeling that way or not, I have a healthy dose of quilt action for you today! I've been covertly hand-quilting my Scrappy Spidey at work during my lunch break every day for the past week. I'm terrible at keeping secrets and my poker face is non-existent, plus my husband is super nosey and good at guessing surprises, so this was the only solution I could think of!

Every day I duck into an old, unused office, close the door, and listen to the Glee Christmas soundtrack while I quilt for an hour. It's actually kind of nice. I'm considering doing more things that require hand-quilting in order to keep this tradition alive once I finish this project :)

There wasn't enough room to spread the quilt out on the floor of the office I've been using, so I had to wait until the work day was over yesterday and spread this out over by the copiers, haha! I used Kona in Indigo (a rich navy) for the sashing and the backing. The sashing is about 4 inches wide.




I'm using a kelly green embroidery thread for all the quilting because 1) I've always loved the navy/green color combo, and 2) I think it gives the quilt a distinct, "manly" look.


And I apologize readers, but the pictures of the back came out awful! It's hard to get good photographs under fluorescent lighting! Everything either looks too light or too dark. Sadly, the photo below was the best of the bunch.


I'm really excited about how the back is going to look with all the circles! I'm quilting 4 circles within each spiderweb, and I'm not measuring diameters or anything while I quilt because I want it to have a really cozy, wonky look to it. Once I finish all the circles, I'm gonna stitch several straight rows down each side of the sashing. The dear hubby loves imperfect, scrappy quilts, and I'm SO EXCITED about how the finished product is gonna look!!! He's also a sucker for a nice cozy quilt, and I find hand-quilted quilts are a little softer & snugglier and drape better than machine quilted ones.

I'd really like to give him this when it's just the two of us, so hopefully our Christmas date night works out! We're waking up early to drive to my parents' house on Christmas Eve, so we're talking about staying downtown at The Roosevelt on the 23rd. There's nothing quite like dinner in the Quarter and strolling along at night amid all the decorations and music :)
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