Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Favorite Last Minute Gifts - Monogram Hand Towels

At the last minute, I decided I needed more gifts.  I had recently bought a few sets of hand towels and thought I would monogram them for a few people for Christmas.  My all time favorite font for monogramming towels was previously purchased from ABC Embroidery Designs.  My favorite is called Monogram #2.  It is a rope stye script font that comes in 3 sizes.  I usually use the 3.15" height size.  It has depth and style and looks beautiful on towels in my opinion.  Please note, this site delivers their download links by email and it can take up to 12 hours to receive it.  I usually receive mine in under 2 hours.

First the setup.  To find the perfect placement, I usually fold the towel vertically and place a pin at the center point.  This then lines up with the center mark on the hoop.  I use sticky Tearaway stabilizer.  The sticky obviously holds the towel where I want it to stay.  I usually pull the towel up 1/4 inch from the bottom too.  This give me as close to center as I can get and usually places the design in the towel band.  
 I also use less of the sticky tearaway stabilizer by only replacing the part that I rip off when completed with the design.  I cut a smaller patch to replace what was removed.  It saves so much stabilizer and works like a charm.  I use a larger patch though to make sure I have enough stabilizer to hold the towel.

I completed 10 towels in about 4.5 hours.  I'm pretty happy with the end results.  They look so expensive and you just want to touch the embroidery.  

One final, to remove the excess stabilizer from the back.  I use a tooth brush (new one of course lol) and wet the excess stabilizer.  I soak it and then wait a minute or two.  Then I scratch it with a straight pin to get it started and it seems to come off so much easier for me!  It's not as sticky.   I end up with a clean towel back as well.

Thanks for stopping by!  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wreaths Completed - Decorating Options

Yeah, I finished all three pineapple wreaths!  I made the binding on Thursday, added it to the quilts Friday and finished hand sewing them this morning.   Here are the 3 completed wreaths.
Now, I'm not sure if I am going to decorate them.  I have 4 options to decorate with.  Ornaments, Rhinestone Berries, Flat Berries and then finally crystal beads like my original one.  Here are the options...  I'm leaning towards the 4 ornaments I think.  I have a full bag of them that I could use.
Crystals.  I would add them in a random order instead of above.

Flat Berries

Rhinestone Berries

4 Random Ornaments sewn down.
Which one do you think looks best!  I have 3 to do, maybe I'll do each one different.  Now, I need to determine who's going to receive these wall hangings. 

Thanks for stopping by!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

3D Wreath Quilt

I'm still finishing up my wreath wall hangings.   This time, I added two extra layers of batting to the wreath area before creating the normal quilt sandwich.  I love the puffiness for the wreath that it created.  One more to quilt and then I'm off to bind all 3 of the wreath wall-hangings and then decorating!  I would recommend adding some extra batting to a simple quilt to give it that 3D look.  Here a photo but it does not do it justice.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Candy Cane Kiss Overload

Last night we unwrapped 20 bags of Candy Cane Kisses to get ready for more candy making.  Whew, I'm glad that's done.  I spent the day making the chocolate covered pretzels, cooling them down, partitioning them and getting them ready for giving at our hospital visit.  Here's what 20 bags of candy cane kisses looks like!  Believe me, the coffee was necessary this morning when assembling and baking/melting all these chocolates!

One of the frustrating parts was pulling out so many broken pretzel snaps.  Ugh... I finally said, I'm using them.  I just placed two half pieces together and when the chocolate melted, it joined the two pieces.  I throw about 20 chocolate pretzels in a snack bag, wrap some tissue around it and plop it in a mini bag that you can get at the dollar store.  You can get 3 or 4 for a dollar.  Here's the final gift

 Please keep your fingers crossed that my dh's last PET scan is a clean one tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by!  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

One of my Favorites - Crochet Snowflakes

This is something that I like to do each Christmas Season as well.  Crochet a few Christmas Stars.  I learned how to do this from a website called Crochet Mania.  I have the information linked below.   I used a white yarn with sparkly specs in it.  Joanns has it each Christmas season.  My tree is usually the same thing each year since I love it.  Snowflakes and Angels.  I love buying these resin snowflakes from Michaels each year.  Now I almost have too many.  I wait until their 50% off sale and get the spikey ones for about $1 and the rounder ones for about $2.50.

I hope you look up the instructions on how to make these.  They are super simple once you get the hang of them. I am not a person who crochets all the time so I relearn every year.  They are great to add on packages as well!  Enjoy!

 Great Crochet Website

The website where I found these great patterns is called Crochet Mania by Teresa. She has great YouTube videos in the project descriptions that go along with the instructions. Here is the link for Snowflakes I like to do each year.  I add them to the tree as well as add them on packages.

Stiffening the Crochet Snowflakes

It is so simple but a little sticky since I use sugar. Here is what I do.  I usually wait until I have about 8 snowflakes to stiffen.  This amount works well for that amount.
  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.


Thanks for stopping by!  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Paper Piecing Wreath Marathon

I decided to continue sewing the paper pieced wreaths since I sewed two extra of the same piece.  Why not finish them?  I decided I'm giving the wall hangings as gifts to a few people.  The paper piecing goes pretty fast the more you do it.  I was able to complete three wreaths.

I had this idea to try something I have not done in the past yet.  I thought, what if I put an extra layer of batting under the wreath to make it a little "puffy" in the wall hanging.  Ok so I think the official terminology is trapunto.  So, here's how I went about doing it.  It worked for me and I plan on doing this more in the future.  I reprinted the patterns and then traced the area where I wanted the extra batting.  I pinned a piece of scrap batting on the back of the pattern and then sewed on the traced lines.  I then cut out each piece and then removed the paper pattern from the cutout.

I added each piece to the back of the wreath wall hanging and used a little 505 temporary spray to hold them in place.

I then created the quilt sandwich like you normally do.  I stitched in the ditch all around the edges.  It's hard to see in the photos but it did place a puffier area in the wreath.  On the second one, I may put two layers of batting pieces prior to the sandwich.  I don't  think it stands out a lot because there is not a lot of quilting around the double layer of batting. But, I like how it turned out.  Now, I may or may not decorate the wreaths prior to gift giving.  Not everyone likes bling bling like me :-)

Off to finish two more wreath hangings.  Don't forget, you can download the pattern for free on my previous entry.
Thanks for stopping by!  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paper Pieced Wreath Pattern

I finally finished testing out my paper pieced pattern for the wreath.  I have two version, one previously published with a smaller bow and then I made one with a fuller bow.  The differences are only one piece in the bow.  I'm sure there are other paper pieced wreaths out there so this is just my contribution.

Also, I'll leave the paper piecing tutorials up to the experts.  Here's a link to a bunch of YouTube instructional videos I found on Paper Piecing.  Here is my recent finished wreath below.  It finishes at 14.5" squared. Each of the 4 blocks finish up 7.5" squared. I can't decide if I'm making another wall hanging and adding bling or I'm going to finish it as a pillow.  If I'm making a pillow, I need to go shopping for a 14" pillow form.

Keep in mind, wreath and bow colors can change and be customized for any holiday.  I am thinking about updating the wreath again to add some extra pieces in the top left and right sections to make it fuller.  I'll let you know if I do.  For now, this will do.

File Downloads

Here are the links to download the pdf patterns to my paper pieced wreaths.  Enjoy!!  The files are stored on a site called Media Fire.  Please be kind and reference my sight if you use the templates.

 My Tips
  • To trim the outside of the individual blocks, use your ruler to ensure a 1/4" seam.  The printouts were just a smidgen bigger.
  • Don't skimp on your fabric pieces.  It makes it so much easier when you have enough fabric to cover the requirements of each piece.  
  • I use basic printer paper.  It's cheap and readily available and super easy to print the pattern out on.
  • I leave the paper on until the 4 pieces have been joined together for the full wreath.
  • I remove the paper from the 1/4 seams inward on each piece.  Fold each piece of the paper back on each seam and finger press.  This weakens the paper and it removes more easily
  • Don't pull, if the paper doesn't want to come off easily, refold the seam line again,
  • Be creative in your decorating.
  • If you get stuck, drop me a line and I'll help you where I can

Thanks for stopping by!  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paper Pieced Wreath - Better Bow

I am just about finished with the paper piecing template for my pineapple wreath.  I updated the bow a little to add another piece and make the bow bigger.  Again I'm using the red/green for the wreath on black background.  I have 3 pieces finished and one to go. 

I like paper piecing however sometimes it gets confusing for me.  I look at the patter and forget that the actual piece completed is the mirror image of the printed pattern.  This is because the sewing is completed under the pattern.  Because of this, I ended up making the same piece 3 times.  Don't ask me how...  That's what happens when you are distracted and really not concentrating.  Now, I have two more repeat sections of the wreath than needed.  Looks like I need to finish these and give two wreaths as Christmas gifts.  Dont' forget to stop back for the pattern and instructions.  I should have it published by Friday.

Thanks for stopping by!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas - AllThingsCrafty

I've decided to enter the SewCalGal's Christmas Quilt Show.  Stop by and see all the entries or submit a quilt as well.

Below is my Christmas Tree Quilt with bling bling ornaments and bows.  It's a simple tree that sparkles with cheer.

I also have my Pineapple Wreath wall hanging.  It's made up of 4 pineapple blocks.  The crystal beads don't really show well in the photo but it sparkles with cheer when the lights hit it right.  I'm in the process of writing up instructions and paper piecing templates for this.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Early Start on Christmas Candy

I'm getting a head start on making my favorite Christmas Candy....  I'm starting early this year because at the beginning of December, we have a trip for DH to have his checkup.  I wanted to give all his nurses/doctors a little something from us for the Holidays.  Keep your fingers crossed that this will be his last PET scan.  Amazing that it has been 2 years since we heard the word cancer.  We are hoping after these appointments and scan that they'll say... see you in a year!

So I love making these easy chocolate covered pretzels.  They are addicting.  I found them last year on a blog and I can't remember where.  I ate so many of these last year that I was just waiting for the candy cane kisses to come out.  CVS has been having a sale on them so I stocked up.

  • Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
  • M & M's (Preferably red/green)
  • Pretzel squares

Preheat oven to 170 degrees

Layout pretzels on a wax paper sheet on a cookie sheet.  I make one pan at a time.  Next I spend all the time unwrapping the kisses.  This is my least favorite step.

Next, lay one candy cane kiss on each pretzel

Heat in a 170 degree oven for about 7-8 minutes.  Just until the kisses start to get glossy and start to spread out a little bit.

When they are soft like this, quickly press one M & M into the center of each melted kiss.

Next, I pop mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes and then let them sit back out on the counter to come back to room temperature.  I tend to put about 3 rows in a baggy and then into a decorative bag.  Last year I made these and they were a big hit.  The peppermint from the candy cane kisses are addicting.  At that to salty pretzels and chocolate yummy!!!   Only problem is, one row disappears rather quickly!
Thanks for stopping by!  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas Folded Star Ornaments - Full Instructions

Pin It I love folded star ornaments, I try to make one a year.  Here's how I make mine. I wrote these instructions back in 2008 and posted them in a 3 part series.  I decided to bring them all together in one posting for a repeat posting.. One year I am going to try and use glue instead of pin or I'd love to find shorter pins.  Enjoy!

Folded Star Ornament - Preparing Fabric Blocks

I start out with a bunch of 2.5" blocks.  When I first wrote these instructions, I created 2.5" strips and then cut into 2.5" blocks.  Now, you could probably cut out a ton of 2.5" blocks with a die cutter if you have one.

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.

Once 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.

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.

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!

Thanks for stopping by!