Friday, May 29, 2015

"High Flyers" Baby Quilt

Do you find that certain milestone events seem to happen to you and all of your acquaintances at the same time in life? When you're younger, everyone seems to be getting married and having children at the same time, then the kids grow up, get married and have their own kids.  Well, now seems to be that time in life when my generation is experiencing "grandparent hood" for the first time.

That, by way of explanation, is why there is another baby quilt in the works. This one, for a sweet newborn baby boy, is all about kites and rainbows and lots of sunshine. It's another machine applique quilt, but this time, the pieces are simpler and more manageable then the stars in the Star Quilt and came together quite quickly and without too many unexpected difficulties.

The 3 design motifs: rainbow, kites, sunshine.

For this type of applique, freezer paper is my go to method. First I trace and cut out all of the templates, to actual size, onto the freezer paper, iron the templates to the right side of the fabric and then cut them out with a scant 1/4" seam allowance. I then remove the freezer paper from the right side of the fabric and lay it onto the wrong side, waxed side up. Using the little Clover pressing tool and a stiletto, I fold over a 1/4" seam and press it down right onto the freezer paper, (see the light blue arch below). It holds beautifully.

Before I stitch the shape onto the quilt, I remove the freezer paper. The pressed down seam allowance holds very well until I get the stitching done.

The same was done for the sun rays. To attach the applique, I used a narrow zigzag, thinking that it will hold up better in the wash then something like an applique stitch.

For sharp, tight corners, like on the kite and the points of the sun rays, I added a little dab of a non- toxic glue to secure the points better. This is a method that I found in Sharon Schamber and Cristy Fincher's book "Piece by Piece: Machine Applique". The only problem with using the glue is that the quilt top will now have to be washed before it can be sandwiched, but I think that it's worth it.

For the kite tails, I resorted to my trusty old "Celtic Bias Bars", which I got quite good at using many, many years ago when I was working on my "Little Brown Bird" applique quilt. (Currently in the "Will I ever finish it?" pile.)

Cut bias strips. Stitch. Press. It's quick, painless work.

Kites and tails set to fly.

Hopefully by the end of next week, the FMQ will be well under way, and these little "High Flyers" will be flying to their new home soon after.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Boutis Pouch: Butterflies and Shamrox

This is the latest of my little boutis pouches. Every piece that I create is an experiment with design, materials and stitches. This little pouch was made using traditional materials and techniques: boutis cotton batiste (front and back),  cotton cording specifically for boutis (purchased in France) and white cotton hand quilting thread. The stitches that I used are the 3 most common stitches found in boutis: running stitch, back stitch and outline stitch.

The pouch is tri-fold, with 3 different design elements; a butterfly on the front flap, a shamrock on the front of the pocket (underneath the flap), and the "point de Vauvert" pattern on the back. Because "point de Vauvert" is quite heavily corded, it gives the pouch more structure and stability.

The finished pouch has been washed and is tacked to a sheet of foam core to square it up as it dries.

The piece has been primarily stitched with the running stitch,  the most commonly used stitch in boutis.  On the butterfly below, you can see that I have stitched the antennae with an outline stitch to add emphasis. The antennae would be completely lost if I had used the running stitch here. To highlight them further I also used white embroidery floss. This is the only place in the pouch that I used the outline stitch.

The only other stitch used in this piece is the back stitch, in the "point de vauvert" pattern, on the back of the pouch (below). "Point de vauvert" is a pattern of short lines (3-5 tiny back-stitches each), separated by equal distances from each other. Each row is off-set alternately to the one above it. It is then corded in 4 directions. This gives it more structure and stability.

To my utter horror, as I was cording and clipping cord ends, a moment of carelessness led to a clip in the fabric. Argh!!!! No way to selvedge that one! Until that happened, this was to be a gift for a special friend in France. Ah well.... . Next!

Not to let my disappointment get the better of me, I finished the cording and moved on to assembling the finished pouch. For the lining I used "Radiance", a silk/cotton blend manufactured by Kaufman.

With right sides together, I hand stitched the front flap piece to the lining piece and trimmed the edge.

Next, the pockets are made. The top of the piece, the section with the shamrock, is stitched to the middle section, which becomes the back of the pouch. The same 2 sections of the lining are stitched right sides together.

Once the front flap has been turned inside out, and the pocket lining has been inserted into the finished boutis pocket, the pouch is set to go. Well, pretty much set to go, except for the closure.

Because I wanted something light and delicate, I decided on a little tear drop bead for the button with a crocheted button loop. (See above and below).

The back of the pouch.

The finished pouch.

Having been relegated to the "sample" shelf of my stitching life, it's on to the next pouch for my friend. (Thank goodness it's not meant to be for any particular occasion, so the time-line is not crucial). There will likely be changes! (And..., hopefully a little more TLC!)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

SeamsBaby: "Hooted" Bath Towel

(or) "Grams gives a Hoot!"

At almost 5 months old, Grandbaby H has already outgrown several sizes of her first little wardrobe. Of course, included in every discerning baby's wardrobe are such fashion essentials as the ever warm and snuggly hooded bath towel with matching wash-mitts. Having out grown her first one, (already!)  H submitted a gentle request for a replacement.

Below is my new, improved version of this years "hooted" bath towel.

Last years bunny theme is so "last year"! Ho-hum!

This year, it's all about the owl. Presenting the Owl Towel!

Now which discerning baby wouldn't want this in her/his wardrobe?

Ready to warm, dry and cuddle at a moments notice.

Runway Ready: The Owl Towel Ensemble.
Perfect for any occasion that requires instant warmth and "snugglability".

(Sorry about all of the hootin' around; I just couldn't help myself!)