Monday, December 22, 2008

Stars, Tying Threads & A Wink

Great Grandmother's Stars

I finally finished a quilt request for a friend. They wanted a photo quilt and wanted to add their great grandmother's blocks to the photo quilt. They had a bunch of these stars sitting around not being used and wanted to see two in a quilt. It was tough finding some type of match for all the different colors in the blocks. No two stars are alike. Here's what I ended up with. Family photos around the outside and center focus photo. This has kept me pretty busy the last couple of weeks. At least now two of the stars are not in storage and are being used. Not the best extract photo but...

Tying Threads

How do you finish your quilts? I think there has to be an easier way? I end up with so many threads after quilting starts and stops. I use one of those easy thread needles and pull all the threads to the back. Then I tie off each set of threads (bobbin + upper) and then I use the easy thread needle again and pull the tails into the backing and snip the excess to hide the knots. This is sooo time consuming. How do you finish your threads, do you just snip without tying? I'm looking for some time saving tips.

My own personal wink

While wrestling with the above quilt using my regular sewing machine, I came in contact with several pins on the quilt sandwich. When I was fixing my hair, I could not help but see my own personal winking smiley face on my arm in the mirror. You have to look carefully for the right eye dot. Who says quilting is not a dangerous hobby??

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stiffening Crochet Snowflakes

Murphy's Law of Computer issues

So I finally got my new PC setup up and running and got a post out on Sunday. After that, my Internet service went out. That has never happened in the years I've been with them. I contacted the cable company and they said, sorry there is an outage in your area. Go Figure!

Stiffened my crochet snowflakes.

They turned out great! It was so simple but a little sticky since I chose to use sugar. Here is what I did. I only had 8 snowflakes to stiffen and I took a guess at the amount and turned out right.

  1. 1/4 cup of sugar
  2. 1/4 cup of hot water or boiling water. I used the water out of our water cooler. Be careful not to burn your fingers!
  3. Mixed until sugar is dissolved. If water turns cooler before sugar dissolves, try 5 seconds at a time in the microwave.
  4. When temperature is tolerable (not to burn your fingers). Dip crochet items (snowflakes in this case) to completely soak them
  5. Squeeze off excess sugar water (try not to wring or extremely distort your item)
  6. I used a cookie sheet with wax paper on it. Not sure if this is good idea or not. Maybe someone can advise. Seemed to work for me without getting wax on the items. Placed the snowflakes on it and arranged out all the crocheted details.
  7. Let sit for at least 24 hours to dry. I went back overnight and they still weren't done, I thought I did it wrong. I flipped them so the other side could get air and then I left them to sit longer and the next time I came back, they were stiff as a board.
  8. Add a yarn or ribbon hanger through one of the openings and then hang on the tree or add to a gift box.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Folded Star Ornament - Finishing Steps

Finishing Both Sides

I finished pinning on the second side of my folded star ornament. I decided on the second side I would only place 3 layers of fabric. However, I started the center in green this time. So, when I was finished, both sides met with the green fabric. Here are photos of both finished sides.

Where the sides meet is where you will place your fabric strip or ribbon. Most times, my sides don't match up perfectly. But like I referenced previously, who cares. It's going to be covered up with fabric anyway. I just make my fabric strip a little wider to make sure I cover it all. Here are my sides. See how at one spot, they overlap a little and in another, there's a nice gap.

Finishing the Ornament

Wrap a string or measuring tape around your ornament to determine the size of ribbon or fabric you need. For this size foam ball, I'll need a 10" strip to be exact. However, I like to add a couple inches to that in case I have any issues and to make a tube at the top to act as a hanger. I usually use matching fabric (or contrasting, depends on the mood :-) 2" wide strip.

Then I fold the strip in half, right sides together and stitch a 1/4" seam down it to make an inside out tube. Turn the tube right side out and press with the seam on the inside, bottom center of the strip. I end up with a 3/4" finished strip to wrap around the ornament.

  • Optional instructions - Just fold the sides in (1/4" each) to the back center and iron to make a 1.5" strip with sides folded under. Then, fold this in half again to form the 3/4" strip. This hides the raw edges and still gives you the 3/4" strip to wrap around the ornament.

I cut the finished strip to 10" (or however long you need) and then from the excess piece I cut a 1" piece which I'll use later. On the 10" strip, I add double stick tape. Then carefully thread the one end through the 1" piece and secure with tape on the underside. This will be the hanger at the top of the ornament.

Place the area with the 1" piece on top of your ornament if you have a preferential "top". Wrap the piece around your ornament and secure. When you come to the top, feed the other end of the wrap into the 1" piece on the top of your ornament. I'll even reach in with a pin inside this piece and secure further. Now, your ornament is ready for hanging.

  • Optional instructions - just use the 10" strip and tape it to the ornament letting the ends meet at the top. Glue on a piece of fabric on top to cover the joint of the two ends where they meet at the top. Adhere something to hang the ornament.Here's the finished wrap. I like using fabric because the wrap is then very smooth.

Hang on your tree or give as a gift! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas Tree Quilt - Decorations Completed

After a couple of days not working on the Christmas Tree Quilt and working on other things, I've finally finished the decorations on the Christmas Tree Quilt. Previously, I received a comment from Linda (Thanks Linda, great suggestion!!) suggesting that I skip the ornaments and maybe just use the silver and place bows on the tree. You know, I loved the ornaments but just could not bring myself to place them on the quilt.

Yesterday, I free hand tied silver bows. I adhered them to the quilt with 3 swipes of thread around the knot portion of the bow. I really like how it turned out. Now, if I could get myself to stop thinking about placing appliqued presents under the tree, then I can say I am completed. But, we'll see... I really think presents under the tree would "finish" the quilt and make it unique. Here are photos of the bows that were sewn on.

And a closeup photo....

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Folded Star Ornament - Pinning Pieces

Now it's time to begin pinning the triangle pieces to the star. Keep in mind there are no "must follow rules" they are all left up to your individuality and how you would like to arrange the layers. Also, things won't match up perfectly. That's OK, slap on another layer and cover up the imperfection :-). Most of all, make it your own.

Place two of the unfolded squares evenly spaced apart on the foam. Pin each corner and have the corners meet from each side evenly spaced apart.

Layer 1 Step 1 - Place your first triangle directly on the flat 2.5" square just placed. Match the wide edge of the triangle with the corners of the squares. Pin the corners first and then the point. Remember, place the pin in the point in between the two folds a little below the edge. Then pull the folded flaps up and over to hide the point pin.

Layer 1 Step 2 - Complete the second triangle directly across from the first one placed, same method.
Layer 1 Step 3 - Place the 3rd triangle in the empty space besides the two just placed, match points.
Layer 1 Step 4 - Place the last triangle to finish the square. All points should match up.

Next layer, decide how large you want your center star. You should be able to fit 3 or 4 layers without using half the foam ball's space.

Layer 2 Step 1 - When you decide where you would like to start layer two, place in the point pin first and then pin down the outer corners of the triangle.

Layer 2 Step 2 - Place the second piece completely opposite of Layer 2 Step 1. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 2 Step 3 - Place the third piece 90 degrees from pieces 1 and 2 from layer 2. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 2 Step 4 - Place the 4th piece directly opposite of piece 3. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 2 Step 5 - Now add a 5th triangle to the areas not covered by the 4 pieces of layer 2. It's almost like another layer of the same color. You are now starting to form your star. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 2 Step 6 - Place the 6th piece completely opposite of Layer 2 Step 5. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 2 Step 7 - Place the 7th piece 90 degrees from pieces 5 and 6 from layer 2. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 2 Step 8 - Place the 8th piece directly opposite of piece 7. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle. You should see your first star.

Layer 3 - next color
Layer 3 Step 1 - When you decide where you would like to start layer three, place in the point pin first and then pin down the outer corners of the triangle.

Layer 3 Step 2 - Place the second piece completely opposite of Layer 3 Step 1. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 3 Step 3 - Place the third piece 90 degrees from pieces 1 and 2 from layer 3. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 3 Step 4 - Place the 4th piece directly opposite of piece 3. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 3 Step 5 - Now add a 5th triangle to the areas not covered by the 4 pieces of layer 3. It's almost like another layer of the same color. You are now starting to form your second star. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 3 Step 6 - Place the 6th piece completely opposite of Layer 3 Step 5. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 3 Step 7 - Place the 7th piece 90 degrees from pieces 5 and 6 from layer 3. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle.

Layer 3 Step 8 - Place the 8th piece directly opposite of piece 7. Pin center, hide pin, pin corners of triangle. You should see your second star.

If you have room for another layer without going over the half way point of the foam ball, switch colors and repeat steps from Layer 3.

Once you are done with all your layers, I sometimes go back and pin down all the exposed outer edges in prep for the ribbon or fabric wrap that will hide all the pins.

When finished, flip over the ornament and repeat all steps. I like to use opposite center color and then build out.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Folded Star Ornament - Preparing Fabric Blocks

Moving on with the Folded Star Ornament Instructions

After the 2.5" strips have been cut, you want to cut them into 2.5" blocks. You'll end up with a lot of 2.5" blocks. From here, you move on to ironing.

After the squares are now in 2.5" blocks, it's time for the ironing. But first, set aside 2 blocks from each color that you will not be ironing.
  1. Step 1 - fold the 2.5" block in half. Use your spray starch if need to make it flat.
  2. Step 2 - fold the folded half block again into a square. Use your spray starch again if needed.

The order in which you prepare all of your blocks is up to you. Meaning, do you do a completely iron and fold one block completely and then move on to the next one? Or, do you iron all in half first before you move on to the next step. Up to you.

One you have your tiny twice folded square, you now open it back up to the original half size and then we fold the edges in to meet the center fold line. Think back to when you made your paper hats. You bring the right side into the center fold line and press and then you bring the left side into the center line and press. Or, you fold them both in, hold them with your finger or tweezers and then press at once. Be careful not to burn your finger like I usually end up doing :-) You will end up with mini triangles.

Be precise when lining up the sides to the center, the closer (without overlapping) the better. Here I am holding one block before I iron it down. I would spray starch here to make sure it stays.

From here, it's just repeat, repeat, repeat until you have a pile of triangles such as this. Notice my saved blocks that have not been ironed.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Folded Star Ornament Instructions Part 1 - Supplies List

Folded Star Ornament Supplies List

Since I was so frustrated with securing the ornaments to the Christmas Tree Quilt just yet, I thought I'd do another Folded Star ornament and share the summary of steps.

Here are the supplies you need for a folded star ornament - Just in time for Christmas. I'll try to finish up the instructions within a week.
  • I use five 2.5" strips of fabric (full width of fabric) from two different fabrics that you want to use in your ornament. If I have excess left over, that's just more I have for the next star.

  • 3" styrofoam balls. You can get them several places. Go to the dried flower arrangement area of your craft shop and purchase the 3" styrofoam balls. Or online, they are Similar to this example

  • Magic Sizing spray or your favorite spray starch. I like to use Mary Ellen's Best Press clear starch alternative in the non aerosole bottle.

  • An iron

  • Lots of straight pins. Your everyday basic straight pins. You will need at least a package of needles for each ornament.

  • Ironing surface where you can complete tons of ironing.

  • Ribbon or an extra piece of coordinating fabric to wrap around the outside of the ornament to hide the edges

  • Something to act as the hanger for the ornament.

  • A thimble to help you press in a few of the pins that just don't want to go in.

  • Optional tweezers to help move the fabric points back over the pins after they have been placed.

  • Finally, patience, patience, patience.

If you have any questions on the folded star ornament along the way, let me know.

Christmas Tree Quilt - Ornaments

Christmas Tree Quilt - Ornaments, take 4...

First Try
I've used my originally purchased silver rope trim to try and secure the mini ornaments to the tree. However, I can't find a needle big enough to handle the cording that won't tear up the material of the quilt.

Second Try
I went out and purchased another type of Silver trim. This kind turned out to be stretchy ( I bought it in the beading section) and if you pull enough, it starts to unravel. Unraveling wont work but then again, I can't find a large eye needle to accommodate them. I did purchase a whole package of large eye needles.

Third Try
OK, third try. I figured, forget this. I got out some metallic thread. Outcome: Way to thin for the process and with just a little nudge, the ornaments broke the thread. Ugh....

Back to the drawing board. Or in my case, you start two unrelated other craft projects.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmas Tree Quilt - Rhinestone Lights

I finally finished gluing each of the colored rhinestones onto the Christmas Tree Quilt. It was a tedious process since those little items are hard to hold. I used Aileen's all purpose Tacky Glue. More than likely, the wall hanging will just get a dusting and spot cleaning when needed.

How much is too much bling? On my own Christmas tree, I usually have tons of lights. I ended up using 150+ rhinestones for lights. They were the plastic kind and served their purposes for the inexpensive price. Here are the results, let me know what you think. Of course, It's hard to capture the sparkle but they shine just like lights. Click on the photo see closer up.

Now, I've already decided that there is not enough room for the snowflake garland. The ornaments, I'm just not sure. I still want to tie them on with the silver twine and make bows. The twine will hold the ornaments and provide the "tie quilting" needed inside the tree. Right now I have only quilted around the outside of the tree. Here are two photos of the ornaments on the tree. I have not secured them just yet. Still debating. Maybe I'll go and complete a folded star ornament and think about it.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas Tree Quilt - Decorations

After searching several different stores for "just the right" decorations for my Christmas Tree Quilt wall hanging, here is what I have found and will be adding this weekend.

  • A - Sparkling jewel rhinestones to be the twinkling lights here and there on the tree,

  • B - I found the cutest miniature ornaments at Wal-Mart. Each card had 4 miniature resin ornaments and they were $1 for each card.

  • C - Is miniature silver snowflake garland to wrap around the visible part of the tree.

  • D - Is thin silver metallic cording I plan on using to "tie quilt" the tree part while also securing the miniature ornaments for B.

It will be interesting to see how these will come together on the tree. I'll test out the layout first before securing everything just to make sure it's not too gaudy. Heck, with all this, I'm going to need some serious loops to hang the Christmas Tree wall hanging.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Review of Fusible Webbing Recently Used

My favorite fusible webbing for applique is the Steam-a-Seam 2. It's easy to trace the applique size piece I need since it is paper backed on both sides. It's pretty sticky and once you cut out the shape and place it on the wrong side of the fabric, you don't need to pin it for it to stay on the fabric. When you position the applique piece with fusible web on it onto your quilt project and press, it too will stay in place as well until you iron it down permanently.

The company that makes it is warmcompany and they are located at However, sometimes, it's a little stiff looking for some items such as labels on the back of the quilt some of the time.

So, when I recently made the custom quilt labels this time, I wanted to try something lighter when I adhered the full label to the quilt. I tried Misty Fuse fusible webbing. You can find more information on their website It really is very sheer and once the piece was cut out for the label and ironed on the quilt, it did produce a great flexible bond. The only problem I had was that it was so shear and without paper backing, I had problems cutting out the shape of the piece I needed. But, I'm not giving up since the product does use less paper.

When I was writing this post and went to the actual Steam-A_Seam2 website, I just found out that they have a Lite Steam-A-Seam2 that produces a more flexible result. I did not know this was available and I'm pretty anxious to try it. I'll keep you posted on the results. See, we're always learning new things!

Let me know if you have any other favorites!

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Wedding Quilt and Custom Photo Labels

Since I am ahead of schedule on the Christmas tree quilt, I took the time to finish a Wedding Quilt gift I was already behind on. I have a few treasured quilts set aside for those special events that you would like to give as gifts. I made the quilt but just not at that moment. It's like buying an excess of Birthday Cards and picking out a special one for a birthday.

So, I wanted to add special labels to the quilt. After much thought, I decided to scan their wedding invitation and made a center label out of it after I added some photos. I used Photoshop Elements 5 to create the custom labels. I also used the base design of the invitation and created my own "made by" quilt label. I know you won't be able to see specifics on photos below because I have blurred their details and photos for their privacy. I don't know if they would like their photos/info published so better safe. But, I think this gives you an idea.

Then I added fusible webbing to the full labels and adhered them to the "friendship block" quilt I decided will be the special wedding quilt gift. From there, I sewed down the edges of the labels and the quilt will be on it's way today!

If you would like any specific details, feel free to contact me.
Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas Tree Quilt - Backing Added

Quick Quilt Backing Added

As previously mentioned, when I'm making wall hangings, sometimes I finish them the fastest way I can because I am usually under the pressure to finish it and hang it before the holiday is here and gone. My goal is to completely finish this Christmas Tree wall hanging by the end of the month. For the first time, I think I'm ahead of schedule... yippee!

So, my favorite backing to use for wall hangings is the (OK quilt police, look away) already quilted backing. No worry about quilt sandwiches, pinning, etc. Then, even easier is the inside out method. I can have the quilt backed very fast.
  1. I start with the quilt backing cut a little bit larger than my wall hanging and place it on pinning surface right side up.

  2. Add the squared-up quilt top on top of the quilt backing right sides facing together

  3. Pin just around the edges one you have the two pieces nice and flat. I pin in about 1/2 inch since I'll be sewing a 1/4 inch around.

  4. Determine where you are going to leave the opening to turn the quilt right side out. I usually leave about 5" open. It should be big enough to reach your hand into. But, it depends on the size of the wall hanging. I usually double stitch next to the opening because as you are turning it right side out, there's a lot of pressure here.

  5. After your 1/4 inch seam is sewn, trim the backing to match the quilt edge before turning.

  6. Once 1/4" seam is completed, reach your hand inside the two layers through the opening you have. Reach until you have one of the top corners and pull it through the opening to make the quilt top right sides out. You'll need something to poke (great quilting term) the corners out to make them nice and crisp.

  7. Don't do this next step until you are happy with the turn out and corners and how the quilt is laying. I usually fold in the opening area under to match the sewn seam and iron them until they stay in this format. Then I place a scrap piece of fusible webbing between the two sides and press it closed. If time, sew it shut.

  8. Now, quilt as desired and you're done. I usually go around the outside a 1/4 of an inch to make a fake binding. Or, I've even added binding at this point. Depends on how fast you want to finish it.

Tomorrow, Christmas Tree decorations!

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