Handstitched Projects – Part I

Hello habibis!  Since I’m still (still!) posting about Christmas presents, I thought I’d start posted a second post each week (on Wednesdays) to show you what I’ve actually been working on recently.  I don’t know how long I’ll keep up a two-post-a-week schedule, but at least for now.

As I mentioned previously, I’m taking the Handstitched class taught by Rachel at Stitched in Color.  This week was the first week, reverse applique, with three projects: a reverse appliqued tank top, a needle book, and the center of the medallion quilt that will be the large project for the class.  (I didn’t even realize that we’d be making a quilt during the class.  I’ve always wanted to make a medallion quilt, so this works out well.)  I just made myself a needle book, but I think I’ll try making this one at some point – just not at the moment.   The tank top isn’t my style but I like the idea, and I might see if I can apply the technique to a doll quilt – also not at the moment.

I have tackled the medallion quilt.  The center is a dogwood blossom reverse applique.   I decided to make two.  One in lime and teal, for another project I’m working on, and one in coral and a print for my medallion quilt for the class.  I had intended to do the coral one first and then the teal, since the teal one will be a present for someone else and I wanted to have the technique down before I made it for someone else.  However, I forgot and did the teal first.

The instructions called for freezer paper.  I thought at first that wax paper is the same thing, but it’s not.  I went to three different stores to find freezer paper but no one seems to sell it, so I settled for wax paper.  It doesn’t work as well.  Assembling the teal block was pretty frustrating.  I followed Rachel’s instructions and did a blind stitch in lime.  (My blind stitches aren’t that nice.  They’re okay, though.)  Note how my wax paper is pulling out as I try to work on it.

When it came time to do the coral block I didn’t feel like following the freezer paper method again, so rather than doing reverse applique I used fusible applique and put the dogwood shape on the background rather than cutting the dogwood shape out of the background fabric.  I’m using a blanket stitch in teal.  I ran out of one thread and can’t find it for the life of me, so I had to switch colors.  I don’t think it’s that noticeable.  If it were for someone else it would bother me, but since it’s for me I don’t mind.  You may have noticed that the dogwood blossom shape is slightly different in this block – that’s because the fusible applique sheet wasn’t wide enough and I cut it down to fit.

I’ve picked out the fabrics for the first three borders, per Rachel’s instructions, although I’m not following it 100%.  She suggested using white fabric for blocks we’re going to embroider, but I’m using semi-solid colors instead.  The embroidery lesson is next week, I think, so I have this weekend to get all my borders on.


Christmas Presents: Coasters Part II

I made two sets of purple coasters for my cousins C and J.

For C I used these two light purple fabrics that I think I’d already had partially sewn in strips together.  I cut the strip of two fabrics into squares.  When I made my little quilt sandwiches, I matched up my squares so that the prints on one side were perpendicular to the prints on the other side. (Meaning, if they were horizontal on one side, they were vertical on the other.)  I quilted them using lavender as the top thread and a darker purple in the bobbin.  (That’s what I had in the bobbin already, and I thought it would be interesting.)

I quilted them with lines parallel to the center seam.  Then I flipped them over and did the same, so I ended up with lavender lines and the darker purple lines on both sides. Pretty cool, huh?

For J’s I used this pretty fabric.  I’ve used it before.  The quilting is free form curves from the center of each side. If I’d traced something they would be more even but I wanted to free hand it. They still came out pretty well.

I pulled red and navy solid scraps for some improv piecing for my cousin M. They’re his college colors, and nice and masculine. I LOVE how these came out. They’re honestly my favorite of all the presents I made and I don’t even know why. The fronts are all different.

The backs are all just half navy half red.

I quilted them in ways that mirrored or highlighted the design.  The one on the far left has been quilted with one vertical line, bisecting the coaster, and several horizontal lines just to one side of it – the same as the piecing but rotated 90 degrees. The second from the left is lines perpendicular to the piecing.  The second from the right is diagonal lines parallel to the piecing.  Lastly, on the right, a square spiral.  I used blue thread for everything.  In the background you can see several other Christmas presents, some of which I still haven’t blogged about!

A close up of the square spiral:

My uncle S is a huge Beatles fan. I’ve previously made him a Beatles pillow from a set of Beatles fat quarters I bought from keepsake quilting with him in mind. It’s a pretty trippy set of prints.  I wanted to fussy cut the fabric for the coasters, but in some cases I couldn’t get the parts of the print I wanted because I’ve fussy cut it before, so I had to compromise a little bit.  One side of the coasters is all from a psychedelic grey and white print featuring the faces of all the Beatles in bright colors.  (Poor Ringo – I wasn’t able to get one of him.)  The other side is black prints.  I tried to quilt them in ways that highlighted the prints.


That’s it for coasters!  I’ve got plenty more presents to post about, believe it or not!

Scrap sewing for me

Double posts again today!

I have wanted to make myself a needle book and scissors holders for a little while for when I travel.  I’ve been using a little scrap for all my needles for a few years.  (Several years ago I made one of my uncles a Yankees ornament and hand-embroidered the Yankees logo, but I realized most of the way through that I’d done it backwards and had to start over.  I’ve been using the initial scrap with the backwards logo to hold all my needles.  It’s obviously not ideal.)  When I made the dog pillows last week with more scraps from my grandfather’s tshirts and sweatshirts, I thought the collar from one of the sweatshirts would make a good needle book.  I added blue polka dot fabric to the center to attach the two pieces of the collar.  Then I took scraps of leftover binding (I save everything – these are leftover from the coasters I made my cousins J and C for their birthdays) and bound the raw edges.  I finished it with a closure using a piece of ribbon for a loop and a cute little thimble button my aunt D gave me for my birthday when she gifted me her stash.  It’s not the cutest needle book ever – I decidedly went for function over form.


For scissors, I used some scrap pieces from an old tablecloth of my mother’s.  She’s an elementary school teacher and she uses heavier fabrics to make book pouches that hang over the kid’s chairs.  One of her old tablecloths went that route, and I have the scraps of it because, as I mentioned, I save everything.  I took a large-ish piece and added a matching piece of batting.  I cut it into a kind of ice cream cone shape – sort of curved along the top, and a triangle at the bottom.  I sewed the sides of the triangle together and secured the batting to the fabric.  To finish I used ribbon again to make a closure and a cute little scissor-shaped button from aunt D.   This one has a bunch of rough edges but it’ll fit my largest scissors – probably all my scissors at once – and I won’t have to worry about sharp scissor tips poking through anything.

I did more work on those charity baby quilts I’m working on, and some other as well.  More on those another day!  Also, I’m starting the Handstitched class this week!  I’ve added the button and I’m pretty excited to start.  I have to confess that I probably won’t be doing all the projects – or not necessarily all the projects as written – but I’ve already got some ideas for this week’s three projects.  Now that I have a needle book I guess I don’t need another one, but I’m sure I know some other people who might like one!

Christmas Presents: Coasters Part I

I made a lot of coasters this Christmas. A lot.  I think I made seven sets of coasters.

For my brother R and his wife M, I used scraps from their wedding quilt to make them coordinating coasters – because who doesn’t need coasters that coordinate with their quilt?  I used the fish fabric with green borders – the green pieces were scraps and the fish fabric were extras from cutting too many pieces for the quilt, so this required very little cutting. I did free motion quilting – curves from corner to corner of the gold and then curves on either side, meant to mimic the fish swimming.  I don’t seem to have pictures of them, post-quilting.

My sister got moose coasters! I made her an ornament once with this moose fabric. I still had plenty left. I tried to fussy cut it to get a moose in at least half the pieces, and then I made those the “front.”  I used batting scraps for all these, by the way, and I didn’t bind them because I knew I’d never have time. I quilted them to focus on the moose. Each one has two lines of quilting, angled to highlight the moose.

Here’s a blurry picture of the “fronts” of the coasters.

Here’s a better picture of the backs:

For my Aunt M I made purple coasters. (I actually made these before Thanksgiving, when I made the coasters for T-Rex.) One side matches the pot holders I made her last year – because who doesn’t need coasters that match their pot holders? I quoted them in a spiral, like T-Rex’s.  I realized when it came time to write this blog that I never took pictures of them.  Oops!  Take my word that they were cute!

Stash Bee January Blocks

Hi habibis!  We’re having a double post today because, honestly, if I don’t start doubling up I’ll be posting about Christmas presents – and only Christmas presents – until the end of February.

I had a great weekend, with lots of sewing.  I made some dog pillows, went to my guild meeting with my mom, and finished up my Stash Bee January blocks. #stashbee

Heather of A Reformed Heath’n is our queen for the month and she asked for scrappy Hunter’s Star blocks.  (See her post here.)  Heather wanted a four-patch blocks made of four Hunter’s Star blocks.  She asked us to think about contrast when it came to pairing our fabrics.  I made two blocks  because I had fun picking out the fabrics!  I focused a lot on contrast (but worried that I didn’t get enough variation between light and dark in a couple of my pairings – some of my prints are similar saturations of very contrasting colors).

I messed up a teeny bit when it came to pressing my seams (I pressed a few open that should have been pressed to one side), and I am not great at pressing my seams open.  I tried really hard to keep my points precise and sew extra carefully, since the blocks are for someone else.

Here are my two blocks!  They went in the mail yesterday.  I hope Heather likes them!

Heather asked us what our favorite home-cooked meal is, and I guess my answer is that it depends who is doing the cooking!  When I’m cooking, I like to make stuffed shells in a red wine sauce with a nice goat cheese arugula salad for Z and myself, or a macaroni and cheese casserole.  I love Hungarian food but it’s a lot of work to make, so that’s something I prefer when someone else is doing the home cooking.  🙂

Christmas Presents: Pillows

Happy Tuesday habibis! It’s present time!

I could probably write a post a day for the month of January showcasing the different Christmas presents I made this year. Instead I’ve combined them by theme. Today’s theme is pillows.  I have four to show you.

I mentioned a while ago that my Aunt D, who also sews and quilts some, decided she didn’t want to keep a stash and gifted her fabric to me. It was a big Macy’s box full of fabric. I decided (it might have been my mother’s suggestion – she’s so smart) to make Aunt D a Christmas present using some of her scraps. My mom definitely consulted when it came to fabric choices and Aunt D’s color preferences. I knew I was thinking some kind of lattice work design.   Aunt D had a pansy fabric that I love, which would look pretty as the center of each block. (My favorite flower is the poppy, but I find pansies incredibly appealing and pleasant to look at – maybe it’s the combination of purple and yellow in one flower.) My mom suggested yellow, and of course that would perfectly complement the yellow in the pansies. And what else but green to go with it? Aunt D also had a lovely green on white ivy print. It actually reminds me of the mountain house my grandparents had when I was a kid – one bedroom was entirely decorated with a green on white ivy print and it was so airy. So I picked the pansies and the ivy and pulled a pale yellow out of my stash – it’s the backing print from this yellow and orange quilt I made my other grandmother.  I made a windowpane/latticework pattern – pansies in the center, then yellow, then the ivy.

Aunt D also gave me a nice forest green – not that I’m lacking those, after making R and M’s wedding quilt, but I used hers because it’s richer than the hues in my forest green prints, and also it’s from her stash. I used that to make the back, with a strip of pansies on the envelope closure to make it pretty. The closure doesn’t overlap as much as I’d like – I guess I miscalculated – but otherwise I’m 100% happy with the pillow, and Aunt D was delighted to recognize some of her fabrics in her present. I’m putting the rest of her stash to good use, too – some of those fabrics will feature in future posts.

The other three pillows are for my mom’s family – my grandma, my Aunt M (my mom’s sister, not my aunt M my dad’s sister), and my cousin S, M’s daughter.  I’ve made stuff for my grandma before – in fact, I’m sure I made her a green and pink star quilt years ago, but I haven’t seen it in years, so who knows. S reminded me that I made her pillows a few years ago but I have only the vaguest memory of what those look like.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t ever made anything for Aunt M. I decided it was high time I made them all something. I thought matching/coordinated pillows would be cute. I talked to S about color choices. She likes light blue and Aunt M likes yellow. I had already decided to use gold to tie all the pillows together, since I had so much gold fabric leftover from R and M’s quilt, and to do my grandma’s pillow in gold and forest green. It would match her couch, and green was my grandpa’s favorite color so now it’s more special for her.

I wanted my grandma’s to be a checkerboard pattern but I cut wrong and didn’t have enough of that gold. So I added another gold print and made this modified design. The back is forest green with gold on the envelope closure.

For S I decided to do diagonal stripes in gold and light blue. I actually sewed them into a big block of vertical stripes, then cut a diamond the size of the pillow out and turned it on its side to get the diagonal. I used the corners of the big block to make the back, with extra blue for a border and the envelope closure.

For Aunt M I wanted to do something with half square triangles and make it kind of like the gold emanating from one point. While I was thinking of the design I was reminded of the line from Romeo and Juliet: “It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”  I decided to name this pillow “and Juliet is the sun.” It’s like the sun rising.  I didn’t make a tag or anything, or even tell Aunt M the name of the pillow. (Half the time I don’t even name my quilts, much less a pillow.) However, that is the pillow’s name. I pulled lots of gold prints to make the HSTs and I used extra HST blocks and extra gold fabric for the back.

Here’s the three of them together:

That’s four presents down…and a bunch to go. Plus everything I’m working on now. It’s funny how I used to sometimes start a project just so I had something to post – because I used to only work on one quilt at a time and they’re usually presents. Guess I don’t have that problem anymore. Suddenly it feels like I’m working on everything!

Dog bed and other charity sewing

Hello habibis! It’s been weird not posting for you every day. I actually set up my last few posts to go automatically so I haven’t written a post in a couple of weeks. So it feels like a return to me even though I didn’t take a real break from posting.

I hope your holidays were wonderful. I spoiled myself and took a lot of time off of work. Z and I spent a week visiting our respective families and once we returned I treated myself to a long weekend. I spent some time sewing while we were out of town and most of my time sewing once we got back.  (Returning to work yesterday wasn’t easy!)

I have plenty of Christmas presents and birthday presents to share with you, now that they’ve finally been gifted, but I want to post about some charity work instead. (Bear with me!) As you know, one of my resolutions was to dedicate one day a month to charity work and another resolution was to destash. I made Saturday my charity day for January, but I’ve also been chain piecing scraps for about a week. Some of those will become doll quilts and some will become presents.  I’ve got all sorts of things in the works right now! Lots of WIPs (more like orphan blocks that I’ve made from scraps that need to be pieced together). On Saturday I only worked on things that I know will go to charity.

I started with my old comforter from college. I used it until I made myself the Drunkard’s Path quilt a year ago. I decided I’d turn it into a dog bed. It’s meant to be reversible, light blue on one side and navy on the other, but I always used the light blue on top and it shows. It got very thin and I kept having to sew it up.


I decided to remove the light blue and the batting, fold the dark blue in half, sew it almost all the way around, and then stuff the light blue fabric, the batting, and any other scraps back in to finish it.

I cut it open along the edges and realized – foolish (oblivious) me – that the comforter had been quilted and I wouldn’t be able to remove the top two layers. No matter. I simply sewed up the blue as is. It made it more difficult to sew on my machine, of course, but otherwise it wasn’t a big deal.


I tried to quilt a few straight lines down the middle to hold the whole thing together, but I was largely unsuccessful and had to abandon that. I couldn’t fit so much batting (two very puffy layers) under the foot of my machine. So here it is: a lovely large dog bed for the animal shelter.

I worked on two other projects, one large, one small. I finally finished sewing down the bindings on those three doll quilts (see them here, here, and here) and started a new one. I’ll post about it when it’s done.

Since we’re talking about destashing, I estimate that the dog bed got 8 yards of fabric out of my stash (the whole comforter) and when I drop off the doll quilts at my guild meeting that’ll be another 2.5 yards out. Well on my way to my goal of 50 yards before I move!

My large project is more shirting quilts. Remember my charity hexagon quilt? My friend A gave me her leftovers. Would you believe the guild still has more shirting fabrics? They were distributing more a couple of months ago and they asked people to make baby quilts for February. So I pulled out A’s remnants and she had soooo much leftover. I have pieced two baby quilt tops and have rows pieced for a third, plus more than enough leftover to back all three of them. My goal for my February charity day is to make the quilt sandwiches and do simple quilting so I can take them to my February quilt meeting. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my scraps to make more doll quilts – plus lots of other projects.

What else am I working on for the next few months? So much – knowing me, too much! I’ve joined the Stash Bee! This month we’re making scrappy, high-contrast Hunter’s Star blocks. I’ll post mine once they’re finished – I’m almost done squaring up HSTs. I’ve also signed up for the Handstitched class taught by Rachel at Stitched In Color. . I loved the quilts she designed for her Angled class but I had NO time for a class in the fall. Now I have some ideas for big and small presents for the next few months but I don’t feel too stressed about any of them. (Mistake? Probably.)  I decided I had the time, and I definitely want to work on my hand stitching and appliqué, so the class sounded perfect. (She’s also teaching a Curves class, but having made a twin sized Drunkard’s Path quilt I feel like I can handle curves if I need to.)  if you’re interested in either class, registration is still open and you save $10 if you sign up by Thursday Jan. 8th. You can read about them here.

So that’s everything I have going on so far. Check in next week to see the first of several (many?) posts on the presents I made for the holidays. I made almost all my presents this year so I have plenty to share!