Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Christmas ornament tutorial...a pudgy lamb...



Christmas is upon us!  This post is a poor attempt at me keeping a promise to share a tutorial on how I made this fuzzy little Christmas lamb ornament...oh, so long ago in the late 1980's.

Peg Margo, this one is for you...sorry it took so long!

The original idea came from a craft leaflet that I hoped I had hung onto, but my search through the last of the packed moving boxes last week was futile.  Doh!

I tried to wing it and re-create what I did 30 years ago.  I learned from making this one, but had no time to make another one that would reflect those lessons learned.
  
So I will be constantly telling you what I have told my daughter through the years..."do as I say, not as I do."


I will list all materials that are needed concisely at the end of the post.  I still had the larger of the two template circles that I made all those years ago, funny enough.  I guessed on the smaller one...and I guessed wrong (it should have been a little smaller...).

Yep, if the observant among you noticed one of Karen Kay Buckley's "Perfect Circles," you would be correct.  In fact, you can make this critter any size, with any material, and actually any species.  I want to explore this some time with a spotted body to make a cow, for instance...

So I recommend a 3-  to 3.5-inch circle template for the body and a 1.5-inch circle for the head.  I used a 1.75-inch circle for the head, and wished I had made it smaller.


For each ornament, you need TWO large circles of cardboard for the body and ONE small circle for the head.


Next, I cut out scrap batting about 1/2 inch bigger all the way around.


I then clipped about 1/2 inch deep all the way around.


Being very careful not to burn myself, I centered the cardboard circle in the center of the batting circle.  I applied hot glue half to 2/3 around at the very edge of the cardboard.  The clipped sections were quickly folded over onto the glue and held.  Then I glued the remaining edge and pressed the remaining clipped batting sections into place.



I repeated this with the second large body circle and the small head circle.



Do you see that writing is faintly visible through one of my body circles?  Don't do that.  I should have made sure that the writing side of my recycled cardboard would be to the inside of the ornament.

It doesn't matter with this ornament, but if you were using a thinner body fabric, that faint writing might show...


OK...now we will do the same thing again with the outer body fabric.  The batting just gives some pudge to the ornament.

For my original ornament, I just used sheepy fabric I found in the fake fur department.  Because I live in the middle of freakin' nowhere, I ordered some 'Minky Sherpa Cuddle, Ivory' from Fabric.com.  The material substrate is actually thinner and easier to work with than what I used years ago, but the shedding edges are a little more annoying.


Again, see my little clipped sections?


Once both body pieces are covered, you need to add legs before gluing the sections together...oh...and a loop of thin ribbon or heavy thread for a hanger.  I forgot that.  Now, I have to go back with a needle and thread and stitch and pull something through the edges for hanging...

I still had 3-inch craft cinnamon sticks, so I used them for legs, just like I did originally.  You can also use craft sticks, heavy ribbon with a knot or bead on the end...or leave them legless...whatever you would like (they are less likely to run away or wander off if you leave them legless).


I put the curly seam of the 2 cinnamon sticks to the front so that they have the appearance of having all 4 legs...then, I glued the two body pieces together with a generous amount of hot glue. 

At this point you can stop here with a walking snowball ornament or continue.


Using felt, cover the head circle just as you did with the two body circles.  I thought I was ordering plain ol' felt from Fabric.com, but ended up with something called 'Plush Felt, Vanilla."  I would have preferred felt, but this was OK.  It was thicker and more hairy than felt, probably more realistic, but the texture made applying make-up later a little more challenging.

Let's make some ears!  The shape is below.  On the rounded end, they are about the size of a nickel with a tab attached...sort of the shape of a hot air balloon.


I put a little dot of hot glue on the tab ends of the ear pieces and pinched together to make the folded ears.  

Next I cut a small, football-shaped piece of the sherpa body stuff that would fit on the top part of the head, like bangs.  I applied the bangs, which hang over the head piece a scant amount on top and each side, with a little glue.  Then I attached the ears to the head piece, right where the bangs stop on either side.

Glue the head to the body.  Mine is almost in the center, but you can glue the head where you like, cocked at any angle you like.


Now it is time to make the blind see and accessorize this beast!  I just happened to have these little plastic craft balls, but you can use buttons, circles of black felt, beads, googly eyes, tiny black pom poms...whatever you have.

I put the bow on top of the head in my original ornament.  I chose to tuck it under the chin on this one.  Feel free to bling him out however you want!


Using a black Sharpie marker, I drew hoof-like little shapes at the bottoms of the cinnamon sticks.  You don't have to use perfectly shaped cinnamon sticks...I chose these because they twisted a bit and looked like fun.


I also snipped a couple of plastic holly leaves from an old sprig and glued them on top of the bangs with a tiny ribbon rose.  You can use jingle bells, beads, buttons, jewelry findings...whatever floats your boat.



And of course, to pile on the cuteness you can apply some blush with a Q-tip.


Ta da!!

Ingredient List:
     template plastic or "Perfect Circles"
     recycled corrugated cardboard scraps
     batting scraps
     fake fur, fake sheep, Minky, or fabric
     felt
     cinnamon sticks or craft sticks
     black Sharpie marker
     3/8 or 1/2 inch ribbon
     skinny ribbon or heavy thread for hanger
     craft eyes and findings for embellishment
     hot glue gun
     make-up and Q-tip

Tutorial provided, promise kept, mic drop...

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Heading for the borders during Thanksgiving...


The bottom border for "Contentment" is hand-stitched, soaked and pressed, but not trimmed and attached yet.  I might wait until all four borders are done before I trim anything.  My little mathematical brain is a little distracted right now...better to be safe then sorry!


These pictures aren't very good...I have both tops I am bordering laid out on the pool table as I ponder things.  My pieces of design wall are leaning up against furniture in my bedroom, upstairs.  I have got to figure out where and how to have my design wall down where the quilt cave is!


And for my second project sprawling on the pool table, you won't believe one of my skinny stop borders I am employing in "Life's Little Treasures."  

Some of you have been making these blocks in a larger size, one at-a-time, one day-at-a-time in 2016.  I just finished making 116 little versions of this hand-appliqued block in four days!  Now I just need to stitch them into strips and apply them to the quilt!  I will reveal that in the next post!


I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!  

Our little family will be in two pieces...Steve is near Philadelphia for two weeks spending some time with his Dad, and Riley will be home from college for a handful of days with me in Alabama.  It will be sad not to be together, but I am happy that Steve gets to spend some good time with his Dad.

Riley and I will be on opposite sides of the couch as we watch the annual epic battle between our Alma Maters on Saturday, the "Iron Bowl."  With the National Championship on the line, I will probably root for Auburn in the first half, then switch to Alabama in the second half.  I just want Auburn to play well...and Alabama coach Nick Saben to sweat a bit...


The game starts at 10:00 AM CST on Saturday morning...what is up with that?!?  That's like, breakfast time...

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

LITTLE TREASURES are stitched into a "treasure box"...


After much moving things around, I finally settled on an arrangement for my center medallion block and my seventy-two LITTLE TREASURES hand applique blocks.

The little blocks measure 6-inches finished (but can easily be scaled up larger), and the quilt top is 54-inches square...SO FAR. Patterns, both traditional and digital, for the blocks are available here.



Now I am trying to figure out my options...I am thinking that I will apply another sawtooth border, but with 2-inch finished HST's instead of the 1-inch that I used around the center medallion.



But then, what?!?  My mind is racing...



It was interesting trying to get the blocks arranged.  I did not use seventy-two different background neutrals, so I had to worry about repeats being adjacent to each other.  



I think I moved the flying pig around the most...due to the neutral fabric palette it was a little hard to balance the occasional bursts of brightness.



It is busy without calming sashing, but I like that.  The eye keeps moving.  I am glad that I kept the fabric choices minimal and consistent for the inner sawtooth border.  It gives the eye somewhere to rest.



Now as I keep building, I must keep borders from competing with the blocks.



I think the official name of this quilt will be "Life's Little Treasures."  These blocks saved my life the last sixteen months.

Quilts have memory...each piece or unit is a little reservoir, packed with thoughts, feelings, life events, and memories.  This is especially true for me of hand work, as I take a little bag with me or pick it up in a spare minute.  Playing with fabric is therapy for me and often the hand work is easiest to reach for when there is no time...or will...to find the sewing machine.



As I worked on each block I thought of favorite friends and the beloved life and activities I left behind in Michigan, I thought of my parents and how to move forward in a blended family of siblings where some difficult relationships are just broken beyond repair.

I thought of letting go of my daughter as she started college and a new life, I thought of all the boxes I still needed to unpack, I thought of my Yankee husband becoming a southerner and how I don't really feel like a southerner anymore myself after living out of state since 1987.

Now I touch a block and remember a person I was sitting with while working (like my Father-in-Law or Aunt Katrina), a movie I was watching, a song, a news story on the TV/radio, the last time it rained, marveling at the wonder of Nature as I sat and stitched on the back porch, or despairing at the stupidity and cruelty of mankind.



I have one more little piece to applique on this, the bottom border of my "Contentment" Anniversary quilt, before I plunge it in water to soak the glues out.  

I was, unfortunately, working on this border for the last week and a half, so the memory of this segment contains all the vitriol, lies, vile statements, hope, excitement, and ultimately the devastating disappointment, disbelief and fear of our national election.

I am trying to have hope. While attempting to go forward this country has unleashed some things better left behind in our history. Almost fifty percent of our population stayed home and did not vote, not even in state or local elections.  Many of my friends now fear their safety due to the color of their skin, choice of religion or who they love.   Hooded KKK members were out Wednesday in Birmingham, Alabama, the city where I grew up, two hours from where I now live, distributing flyers.  Hateful graffiti was spray-painted on buildings at Eastern Michigan University, where I once worked in Ypsilanti, Michigan, forty miles east of Detroit.  I have heard the celebratory gun fire around our property all week.

We cannot go backwards...we must go forward.  I love Dory, the little blue fish from "Finding Nemo."  She always said, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming."

I will just keep sewing, just keep sewing.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A milestone reached...72 completed LITTLE TREASURES blocks...







The 18 blocks pictured above are the LAST of the 72 (total) LITTLE TREASURES blocks; original blocks that I drafted and hand appliqued to amuse myself and stay sane over the last sixteen months.  The finished size of each block is 6-inches square.

I started making these 6-inch blocks over a year ago for a project that was leaning in another direction.  That project, "Repro Madness," was to be a swap project that would contain blocks made by me and two of my Michigan friends.  I started making 6-inch hand applique blocks designed by Lori Smith of From My Heart to Your Hands designs to put together with pieced and embroidered blocks from my friends.

The three of us chose Reproduction fabrics and got to work.  After I made five blocks using Lori's designs, I started drafting my own blocks, all the time making 3 of each design for a while, one for each of us.

As my project got more ambitious in my head, it became clear to me that I was now working on two different projects...the swap project and what was turning into a medallion quilt featuring an original center larger block surrounded by a collection of tiny appliqued blocks on scrappy backgrounds.

Here are close-ups of the last 18 blocks.  It has been really challenging keeping to the Reproduction fabric palette, but since that is what I started with I decided to persevere...

This is "Flutter By"...


"Fairy Friend"...


"High Flying"...



"In Transit"...



"Counting Sheep"...



"Fall Oak"...



"When Pigs Fly"...



"Bee Happy"...



"Hovering Hummer"...



"A Splash of Citrus"...



"Thread to Go"...



"Greet the Morn"...



"Bashful Bird"...



"L-O-V-E"...



"Hiding in Pines"...



"Zinnia Bouquet"...



"Balancing Act"...



and (finally!), "Just Ducky"...



I started drafting and stitching all of these blocks, not really knowing where I was going.  What I did know was that having the blocks ready to stitch was great therapy for me as I tried to meet the challenges of moving into my parents' home in another state and dealing with the fall out.

They were easy to prep and sew before I got the quilt cave re-established.

As some of you became interested in the designs and requested patterns, I started gathering them into bundles of nine blocks as I went along and offered the first five pattern bundles on my web site (Animals, Flowers 1, Flowers 2, Misc 1, and Fruit-Veg 1).  

I finally determined that seventy-two blocks was the total number that I needed for the quilt in my head, so I finished out the remaining three bundles (Misc 2, Pets 1, and Winged Things 1).

All patterns are available now, both as a digital download and as patterns sent by snail mail, from my online store.  Click here to go there.

Here are the bundles that are now available:

Animals (1)...


Flowers (1)...



Flowers (2)...


Fruits-Veg (1)...


Misc (1)...



Misc (2)...



Pets (1)...



I have added 3 free BONUS blocks in the Pets (1) Bundle...they are not pictured in the thumbnail print because I gave the finished blocks away!  Here are the pictures and they will also appear in the Photo Gallery on my web store...

Labrador Loyalty...


Short on Loyalty...


Sweet and Low...


Winged Things (1)...



I am now at the point where I can figure out my arrangement of these 72 blocks around my central medallion...that will be both fun and a little scary!


I have been hand stitching my first of four final hand appliqued borders for my anniversary quilt.  It is going a little slow, but I am certainly enjoying it!  Here is a peek...


The other three borders are drawn but not prepped.  I wanted to finish the first one and sew it to the body of the quilt to make sure I don't need to change the balance of the remaining three borders.  

My "Afternoon Delight" is a little ignored right now as I try to push these other two projects toward completion.  I am also drafting and doing the computer work for additional Baltimore Rhapsody music blocks...banjo, guitar, dulcimer, mandolin, church organ, handbells, saxophones and blocks containing more music clefs, notes and symbols.  Thank you for your patience!

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)