Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Inspiration - Pinwheel Quilts

Since we began the week with pinwheels, it seems right to end with them too!  I've always liked pinwheels, so it's no surprise that I really like pinwheel quilts.  I've never made one, but am planning to change that soon!  Doing a little research into pinwheel quilts, I was surprised to learn they've been around for a long time - at least since the late 1700's in the US.  There might be countless different patterns you can make with a pinwheel design, from simple to quite complicated. 

c. 1850 - 1875, cotton

This pinwheel quilt from the Quilt Index and the Connecticut Quilt Search was made sometime between 1850 and 1875.  It was hand pieced and hand quilted from cotton fabric.  The red pinwheels in the center are really eye catching, next to the darker pinwheels that surround it.  I wonder who made it and who used it?

1930, wool and cotton

Setting the pinwheels in diamond shapes gives them a feeling of movement!  This quilt was made in 1930 by an unidentified Amish quilter in Indiana.  We know his/her initials were J.L. as they were embroidered in the center along with the date it was finished, January 23, 1930.  It's now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  If you go to the museum's page on it, you can magnify the picture and look at the intricate quilting - done by hand.

 I love the bright colors used with these two modern day pinwheel quilts.  The quilt on the left was created by Australian quilt artist Brenda Gael Smith.  She works with bright colors and lots of fun geometric designs - be sure to check out her gallery. The gorgeous rainbow pinwheel quilt on the right was designed by Texan quilter Martha Tsihlas.  I know I'm partial to anything rainbow, but this one really stands out nicely against the black background.  She used just the right progression of colors to give a smooth transition along the spectrum, too.  Her gallery has more great pieces!

If you're becoming inspired to create your own pinwheel quilt, so am I!  RJR Fabric's site has free instructions for this quilt designed by Jinny Beyer.  It would work real well for making a rainbow or color wheel quilt.

However .... I think this one is going to find it's way to the top part of my "quilts to make soon" list.  Rachel Griffith at p.s. I quilt featured a set of quilt along tutorials showing how to make this pinwheel sampler.  I can definitely see it with these 1930's style fabrics I've been eyeing at my local quilt fabric store! I've just got to get a few almost done projects finished up first!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Sewing - Easy Child's Tiered Summer Top

This is soooo easy!  It took me about 40 minutes to think about how to do this and then get it made - and that includes stopping to take pictures at each step!  I repurposed this from a child's skirt, but if you used an adult sized skirt I don't see why it wouldn't work to make an adult sized shirt.  I know I'm planning on looking for one the next time I'm at the thrift stores so I can make one of these for me!

*tiered skirt - these are those skirts that are gathered and have 3 or 4 tiers of fabric.  They're usually made from knits.
*a T-shirt that fits the child you're making the shirt for - you'll just use it for a pattern and won't harm it in anyway

1. Spread the skirt out on a large, flat area.  Lay the T-shirt on top, putting the bottom of the shirt at the bottom of the skirt.

2.  Using chalk, trace along the sides of the seams.  Since this won't have sleeves, make your side marks about 1/2 inch to 1 inch longer than the T-shirt side seams to avoid having "peek-a-boo" arm holes.  At the top of the shirt, mark the shoulders, stopping at where the ribbing on the shirt begins.  Pull back the shirt and make a mark on the neckline at the bottom of the ribbing.  If you want a higher neckline, make your shoulder seam marks on the inside of the ribbing.  My chalk marks didn't show up at all in the photos I took, so I've remarked them in white.

3.  With your chalk, draw in the rest of the neckline.  Don't get caught up in making it perfectly symmetrical on both sides - we'll fix that later.

4.  Draw in one of the armholes.

5.  Cut 1/2 inch outside of your side seam lines.

6.  Cut 1/4 inch outside of your underarm line and 1/2 inch outside of one shoulder seam.

7.  Fold the skirt in half, matching the shoulder seams, side seams, and underarms.

8.  Using the lines you already cut as a guide, cut the other underarm and shoulder out.  Cut 1/4 inch outside of your neckline chalk mark.

9.  Open your fabric up and you should have a double layer that looks like this.

10.  Pin front to back at shoulder seams, right sides together, and and sew a 1/2 inch seam.

11.  Turn neck edge under 1/4 inch (to the inside) and top sew around the outside of the neckline.  Do the same with each underarm.

12.  Pin sides together and sew in a 1/2 inch seam.

13.  And you have a tiered summer shirt!  If you want to make it more of a swingy shirt, you can taper out the side seams a bit more than T-shirt seams usually are. 

 And here's little c modeling - and foraging for mint!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Project - No Sew Fabric Pinwheels

Ever since I made those paper pinwheels for the 4th of July, I've been wanting to try some pinwheels made of fabric.  I made these in a morning and was happy with the results - with a couple of qualifiers!  I used thin fabric and am guessing that thicker fabric (like a broadcloth, denim, or duck) would give stiffer pinwheels.  And the smaller ones spun much better than the larger one did.  They do spin when I blow on them hard or stick them under the air conditioning vents, though!

*two different fabrics
*Steam-A-Seam 2
*small dowel or a shish-kebob stick
*tape - I used clear, but colored would probably look nicer
*florist pin with a pearl on the end
*plastic pony bead
*needle nose pliers
*patterns found here

1.  Using the pattern, trace a pinwheel shape onto one side of Steam-A-Seam 2.  Remove the other side's backing, iron onto the wrong side of one of your fabrics, and cut out.

2.  Peel off the remaining backing and iron onto the wrong side of your second fabric.  Cut out.

3.  Make a small x in the center of your fabric you want to be on the inside.  Push the florist pin through each triangular edge (where the dots are on the pattern) of the pinwheel, from the outside fabric side.  Push the pin through the center marking.

4.  Put a plastic pony bead on the pin and use needle nose pliers to bend the pin down at a right angle.

5.  Wrap tape loosely around a dowel or cooking stick, near the top.  Push the pin inside the tape and next to the stick.  If your pin sticks out the bottom of the tape, add more tape to cover it up.

6.  Adjust the angle of the pin so the pinwheel stands free of the stick and turns.

Have you heard of the Pinwheels for Peace Project?  On September 21st, participators around the world will reenact (for the 7th year) the first Pinwheels for Peace art installation created in 2005 by two Florida high school art teachers and their students.  From the website:
This is not political. Peace doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the conflict of war, it can be related to violence/intolerance in our daily lives, to peace of mind.  To each of us, peace can take on a different meaning, but, in the end, it all comes down to a simple definition: a state of calm and serenity, with no anxiety, the absence of violence, freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people.

See the project's website for more information, photo galleries, and additional pinwheel instructions.
Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Inspiration - Christmas in July Inspirations

Every summer I have grand plans to do all my Christmas sewing and crafting by Thanksgiving so that I'm not frantically trying to finish the most important pieces and putting off for "next year" (never comes!) the rest.  I'm a true optimist, so I'm giving it another go!  I have plans for using patterns/instructions I've already developed or that someone else has, but I like to come up with new ideas, so I've been looking around for inspiration.  Who knows what I'll end up doing with this inspiration, but maybe it'll inspire you to come up with something too!

I've been mulling over using some type of fabric gift wrap this year and like the idea of the Korean bojagi I wrote about last Friday.  That sounds like a more complicated way to go, though, than these simple, but gorgeous fabric bags from Rosemary Beck's blog here.  I really like the way they look with a Christmas palette plaid.

I love the crocheted hexagon stars Daniela Herbertz came up with!  I envision many of them in a rainbow of colors on our tree this year.  Daniella has free instructions on Ravelry with several different variations.

 I'm ordering the fat quarter bundle of Jason Yenter's Artic Winter Solstice fabric even though I have no idea what I'll do with it yet.  I try not to do this - my fabric storage/guest room is really quite full!  I just have to make an exception for this, though - it's so beautiful.  Since I'll have lots of fat quarters, it'll probably be something quilted.

I've always enjoyed the collages Henri Matisse created in his later years.  He was unable to paint any longer due to several health problems, but still had a driving desire to create.  So he painted sheets of paper, cut out shapes, and glued them to white paper, forming compositions of color, light, and different symmetries.  He completed Christmas Eve (Nuit de Noel) in 1952 as a model for a stained glass window that was never made.  I'm partial to stars anyways, but I love how these stars seem to rise up and explode.  They definitely seem to expand out of the piece.  I have a couple ideas of where this inspiration is going ..... probably something Christmasy and sewn, maybe including dye.  Stay tuned this fall!  And you can see more of the Matisse collages here.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Christmas in July - North Star Quilted Table Runner

There's something about the North Star pattern that especially lends itself to Christmas designs.  My mom and I have been having fun working on these large table runners (about 16 by 32 inches) that are pieced and then quilted with "stitch in the ditch" or a close outline to the seams.  I've given the directions for one exactly like I made (assuming you find the same fabric!), but you could use any type of fabric and arrange the blocks in different ways.

*fat quarters of four different Christmas fabrics - I chose two that were mostly green and two that were mostly red.  All four have gold printing in them.
*1/2 yard white fabric - mine has different sizes of dots that I thought looked like snowflakes
*1/2 yard backing fabric
*3 yards bias tape
*fusible felt or low loft batting
*large safety pins

I'll refer to the red poinsettia fabric as R1, the red star fabric as R2, the green pinecone fabric as G1, and the green holly fabric as G2.

For the blocks, you'll need:
8 squares of white fabric, 2 5/8" by 2 5/8"
32 rectangles of white fabric, 1 1/2" by 2 5/8"
32 squares of white fabric, 1 1/2" by 1 1/2"
16 squares of each Christmas fabric, 1 1/2" by 1 1/2"
borders - 4 rectangles of each Christmas fabric, 4 7/8" by 1 1/2" (you can also just cut these to 5" and trim the excess off after sewing) and 4 rectangles of each Christmas fabric, 7" by 1 1/2"

For the connecting strips, you'll need:
22 rectangles of white fabric, 7" by 1 1/2"
5 squares of R1, 1 1/2" by 1 1/2"
4 squares of G1, 1 1/2" by 1 1/2"
4 squares of R2, 1 1/2" by 1 1/2"
2 squares of G2, 1 1/2" by 1 1/2"

1.  Make North Star blocks.  I have a tutorial here on how to do that if you're new to the pattern.

Block 1 - R1 flying geese, G1 border

Block 2 - G1 flying geese, R2 border

Block 3 - R2 flying geese, G2 border

Block 4 - G2 flying geese, R1 border

Block 5 - G1 flying geese, R1 border

Block 6 - R1 flying geese, G2 border

Block 7 - G2 flying geese, R2 border

Block 8 - R2 flying geese, G1 border

This is Block 1:

2.  Make Panel A of blocks.  Sew a 7 inch piece of white fabric to the top and bottom of Block 1.

Sew Block 2 to the bottom white fabric.

Sew a 7 inch piece of white fabric to the bottom of Block 2.

Continue on in this way using the guide below.

This is Panel A.

2.  Make Strip 1.  Sew a square of R2 to a 7 inch piece of white fabric.  Sew a square of G1 onto the bottom of the white fabric.  Sew another 7 inch piece of white fabric to the bottom of the G1 square.  Continue on in this way using the guide above.

3.  Lay Strip 1 next to Panel A.  Each rectangle (with arrows) should be the same size as the rectangle across from it - adjust if you have any that got off.

4.  Pin Strip 1 to Panel A and sew, matching seams.

5.  Make Strip 2 following the guide above.  Pin and sew it to the other long edge of Panel A, matching seams.  Make Panel B (following the guide above).  Pin and sew it to Strip 2, matching seams.  Make Strip 3 and attach it to Panel B.  Iron.

6.  Cut a piece of backing material and fusible felt or batting about 1/2 inch larger on all sides than your quilt top.  If you're using fusible felt, fuse to the back of the quilt top.  Layer the quilt top, batting (if using this instead of the felt), and the backing and pin together.

7.  Beginning in the middle and working outward, quilt by sewing in the seam line (stitch in the ditch) or slightly off of each seam line (outline quilting).  I used white as the top thread and red in the bobbin, but you can use one color in both if you'd rather.  Roll the mat up when the bulky part is between your needle and your machine.

8.  Trim edges even.  Bind the edges with seam binding (see here for a tutorial on how to make and use).  Iron and you're finished!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, July 18, 2011

Christmas in July - 2011 Felt Ornaments Part 1

I'm celebrating my one year blogging anniversary with my favorite celebration - Christmas!  Don't worry - I'm not starting to build up to the holiday already, just a week of Christmas in July!  Today I have Part 1 of this year's layered felt ornaments and will bring you the rest in November.

The tree ornament is one that can be made in many different ways.  If the kids are on vacation and driving you crazy with being bored, sit them down in front of felt, sequins, beads and let them go at it!  This might be a good time to teach them their first embroidery stitch - a blanket stitch - to sew the two tree pieces together.  If that doesn't sound like a great idea, the pieces can also be sewn together with a running stitch, as I did on the lighter green tree.  These can make fun gifts - as a nana, I know I'd love to get a hand made tree and would put it in the place of honor!

*felt - the trees can really be any color, with greens and white being the most traditional.  You'll need red and green for the poinsettias.  If you have two shades of red that go together, you can make the top petals and the star base different colors.
*embroidery thread - I used variegated on the poinsettia to add more color
*sequins and beads - you'll need 7 gold seed beads and 7 clear or silver lined seed beads for each poinsettia
*beading or small needles
*1/8 or 1/4 inch ribbon
*patterns found here

1.  Cut two trees from felt using the pattern.

2.  Sew on sequins and beads as ornaments.  To keep sequins on, come up through the sequin, come up through a bead, and go down through the sequin.

3.  Sew front to back with a blanket stitch or running stitch, sewing a loop of ribbon in between the layers on top for hanging.

1.  Using the patterns, cut 10 petals from red, 4 petals from green, and two star bases from red.

2.  Sew petals and leaves together using a blanket stitch and then sewing down the center of each with an outline stitch.

3.  Sew one petal to the star base as shown below, sewing around the base of the petal only.  Add the next petal slightly overlapping the first.  Continue until all petals are sewn on.

4.  Add flower centers - come up through a gold bead, add a clear bead, and go down through the gold bead.

5.  Sew the leaves on the BACK of the other star base (with the front of the leaf down), sewing around the base of the leaves only.

6.  Pin back star base to the front star base and sew together using a blanket stitch.  Sew a loop of ribbon in between the two star base layers at the top.

This would also make a nice pin or hat decoration.  Instead of a ribbon loop, sew a pin back onto the back star base before you join the two star bases together.  I might need to make another one so I can do that!

Happy Creating!  Deborah