Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Striped Name Pillows

When I was designing Lucky's Under the Sea Nursery, I made him some fish throw pillows.  I had so much fabric left over after making Rowdy's Quilt that I wanted to make him a pillow, too.  As I was cutting for the quilt I had this vision of making a striped front with his name appliqued on the front.  (At one point I considered appliqueing Rowdy's name on the back of his quilt but decided that I didn't want to hide that on the back of a quilt and it deserved to be its own project.)  The decorative pillow will live on the full bed in Rowdy's room, when it isn't being used in pillow forts, that is.

I also have fabric left over from Lucky's nursery, plus some other fabric that belongs under the sea.  Why not make Lucky a pillow with his name on it, too?  

The pillow forms I plan to use are 16"x26".  I cut out 11 strips each 3" wide and at least 17" long.  The width will be greater than 26" and the edge pieces might not be quite as wide as the rest but I wanted this to be a fast project.  I plan to use the same chevron fabric for an overlapped back that I used for Rowdy's quilt.  

It took longer to lay out the 11 strips than it did to sew them. Well, this isn't exactly true but it feels like it. I really wanted to take the time to balance out the colors.  I sewed them together with 1/4" seams and then pressed them open.  

In my first applique letter project I drew backwards bubble letters freehand.  I want to make something a little more advanced for these pillows so I decided to print out the letters I wanted to use.  Looking at the front fabric draped on the pillow, I decided to try to make the letters 6" tall.  This should be big enough for the name to be prominent without disappearing over the curvature of the pillow.

I wanted to aim for 6" tall letters, but the font that I selected would have ended up a bit too wide to be easily read on the pillow.  I reduced the font "Hobo Std" from 450 to 400 and printed out the letters again.  Next, I traced the backwards letters onto the appropriate side of my EZL12 Pellon Lite EZ-Steam II fusible webbing.

My first applique project was with quilting cotton on canvas.  I haven't appliqued with quilting cotton on to quilting cotton so I wanted to practice before doing it on the pillows.  In order to test the applique, I made a test strip by sewing two pieces of 3" fabric together and remnant applique pieces from cutting out letters.  (The blue is to test applique border colors for another project that is coming up on the blog.)

For the satin stitch in navy thread, I settled on the zigzag (stitch 8 on my machine) with width 2 and distance 0.3.

I cut the striped pieces down to be 28" x 17.5".  I plan to do half inch seams all around and didn't think it was worth trimming 0.25" from either end of the pillow so on the edges I'll use a 0.75" seam.  I tried to place the letters roughly centered using the stripes as a bit of a guide.  I am lucky that both boys have names with 5 letters so there is a nice balance between the two pillows.

Appliqueing went much better than I thought.  I was nervous that I would have some problems with the machine but everything went really smoothly.

I wanted the front of the pillows to have some more structure but I didn't want to take the time to quilt these lovely fronts I created.  I trimmed the threads and then  used iron on fleece (TP971F - Fusible Thermolam Plus) to stabilize the front of the pillows.

For each pillow back, I cut two pieces that would overlap to close the pillow.  The large piece measured 17.5" x 20.5" and the small piece 17.5" x 14.5".  I hemmed the edges of the back by pressing 1/4" and then 1/2", finishing with a straight stitch.

Oh man, i just realized that I was using a brown bobbin when I was hemming the back of the pillow edges.  Thankfully it is still a dark color and you can't really tell.  I don't want to rip it out and start over now that I've finished 3/4 of the hems!

I assembled the pillows as follows:  Name applique right side up, large piece right side down, small piece right side down.  I stitched 1/2" around all of the edges, clipped the corners and turned right side out.

Finally these pillow cases are complete!  I don't think they quite match what I had in my head back when I was cutting for my first ever quilt, but I am nevertheless happy with them.  I still have a TON of extra fabrics from these projects, I wonder what else I should make out of them!

A final press and the pillows were ready to move into their respective rooms.

Lucky was especially excited to have his own name pillow.  He LOVES letters and can read and spell the names of our family.  (Whenever we see a popular truck brand with Rowdy's name on it Lucky is very excited to tell us about it.)  

Lucky really wanted his "very special pillow" to go in his crib every night but we decided that it would be best on his chair for bedtime snuggles instead.  This way he can see the pillow from his crib, or at least that is the logic we used with an almost 3 year old!  

The boys were so cute that I couldn't leave you with just one picture of them playing with their pillows.  I think I now have an applique bug.  What else can I personalize for the boys?

7/11/16 - 7/12 cut the top fabric.  7/23/16 stitched the top strips together.  
8/24/16 finished assembly.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Polymer Clay Game Pieces

A few weeks ago I finished quilting a reversible gameboard with a checkerboard on one side and a tic-tac-toe board on the other.  Now I just need to come up with checkers and some X's and O's so we can play with it.

I really wanted to find some rocks or flat disks that Lucky and I could paint together, but I had trouble finding something that would be cheap enough.  In the end I decided to use some polymer clay to create my own game pieces.  I purchased 5 colors (silver, dark green, jade, turquoise and blue) but only ended up using 3 in this project.  Let's bake some clay!

Supposedly the craft smart polymer clay won't shrink when baked so what I create size wise will be what we'll use.  Checkers sets require 12 of each piece so I want to make at least 16 to have some extras.  I'm not sure I have enough clay with a totally of 12 oz but I'll make it stretch as far as I can.

I haven't used this clay since I was in elementary school and tried making some beads.  I forgot how hard it can be to mold.  There is a reason why I had some special tools back then.  One brick of clay was easy to cut into 16 even pieces with a little left over.  I decided to make a dot on one side of my checkers to make the "kings" obvious with a modern twist.  I placed a mini sphere on top of a larger sphere and then squished it flat.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the tick-tack-toe pieces yet, depends on how sturdy these checkers feel.  I only needed 2 packages of clay for 32 checkers.

I baked at 275 degrees F for 16 min.  At first, I wasn't sure if they had really hardened when the came out of the oven.  Once they were cool they felt pretty sturdy.  I'm not sure how strong they are, but I didn't attempt to break a checker in half.

The silver pieces don't show up quite as much as I would want, but I wanted there to be contrast between the two colors.  I wasn't sure if the colors would change much when the clay was baked (they didn't.)  

For "king me" pieces, you can both flip the pieces over to show the dot and still stack the pieces.  Even without ridges they fit together pretty well.  

Since the clay was much harder to mold than playdoh, I decided to just make simple X's and O's out of the silver and jade clay.  I realized that none of the colors I had left (besides silver) would show up well on the dark green fabric so I picked the one that I hoped would have the most contrast.  

While I'm not worried about the checkers breaking, these tic-tac-toe pieces are much more likely to be bent and broken.  I do have some extras but not enough for a destructive toddler.  I rolled out equal sections in a "snake" and then created either the X or O.  I pressed them down to flatten them out and smoothed the intersection on one side of the X to hope that it would stay together.  Hopefully these will last more than just a few rounds of tic-tac-toe!

When I play myself, I always lose.  

Keith was so excited to see these pieces that we immediately played a few rounds of tic-tac-toe!  I really like baking the polymer clay.  I wonder if there is an easier way to manipulate it.  If you have any tips I'd love to hear them!  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Reversible Gameboard

I may have finished my first quilt, but I am just getting started with my learn to quilt book.  I've really enjoyed working on the 1, 2, 3 Sew series to learn how to sew so I thought it would be worth checking out 1, 2, 3 Quilt.  The first project is a reversible game mat.  The project seems a little simple after I reverse engineered and sewed a big quilt for Rowdy, but I want to get some more practice with techniques.

5 fat quarters are plenty of fabric for this project.

We had a big storm which knocked out power out.  Once the electricity came back on we discovered that our FIOS was blown.  To pass the time without internet I had a little cutting party.  I cut the fabric for multiple projects so I could be ready to go and start working once I had access to the internet, and my blog, again.

I didn't make an error in cutting but I do wonder if I should have reversed the game board sides.  Maybe I should have had the big squares out of the forest fabric and the small squares be the more geometric fabrics.  The fabrics I chose for the strip piecing are directional so you will tell when they get reversed.  Oh well, I'm not going to let this bother me too much.  I also think it is good that I had to cut up a big pattern.  I have been so hesitant to do this that it is a good exercise for me.  Hopefully I'll like some of the animals in tiny sections when I see the finished product.

Sewing these blocks together should be a piece of cake.  I don't even need to pin the smaller squares and with my 1/4" presser foot it was so simple.  My instinct is to press all the seams open but the book wants me to try nested seams so I did that for the tick-tack-toe board.

It is convenient to iron nested seams... but I don't like using them.  I found it harder to line up the squares than it would have been if I pressed it open.  Plus I think you can tell that the seams aren't flat.  I can see where this might be handy, but I decided to press out the seams on the checker board strips.

I did take the time to pin the longer strips together, I didn't want the pieces to slip too much when sewing it together.  I really REALLY need to move the iron out of Rowdy's room.  I finished the stitching while he was asleep and then needed him to wake up so I could press the fabric and cut the strips.

I was worried I wouldn't like how the fabric went in different directions but I actually think it looks pretty nice.  You have to look closely to see where the different strips fit together.  Maybe I should have mixed up the strips when I sewed it together so it would be less obvious when a character was split in half but that is something to keep in mind for next time.  There was only about 3/4" left over from my strip piecing.  I will hang onto this and use it in another project.  (It occurred to me that I should make drawstring or zipper pouches to keep the checker and tick tack toe pieces in.  Maybe these fabrics could be an identifier of which project is in which bag.)

When pinning these strips together I lined up the seams as closely as I could.  It won't be perfect but hopefully I was close enough.

Stitching the self binding rectangles to the outside of the tick-tack toe board finished up super fast.  Now both sides of the game board are complete and I just have to assemble it.

The batting is cut to size so there isn't any extra.  The quilting on this project is hand tied so I'm going to want to take extra care things line up when I make my quilt sandwich.

I pressed over 1/2" of the tick tack toe board but found that there wasn't enough to fold over to bind the project.  I redid this with only folding over 1/4" hems.  Now there should be enough to bind onto the checkerboard with a 1/4" seam allowance from the checker squares.

Before adding my basting pins, I used some sewing pins to try to line up the center ties of the tick tack toe board with the intersections of the checker board.  It was easier than I thought.  I'm so glad that I have the 1/4" foot for my machine!  This is my first time trying to make squares of different sizes line up.  

I have some DMC 25 embroidery cotton in color 3865.  This is bringing me back to the days of friendship bracelets and winding the floss onto little cardboard bobbins.  This soft white goes well with the letters on the checkerboard and the white lines on the tick tack toe board.  

I've tied off a quilt once, but I only went through each side once before tieing the knot.  I like how it has you go through twice before tieing off.  Unfortunately my needle is too small to get through the fabric.  I purchased some larger needles (chenille needles from the embroidery section) and was able to tie off the quilt top.  

I didn't tape one layer to the ground before pinning it and you can sort of tell.  Things are a bit bunched between the pins and self binding edge.  I will remove the basting pins before pressing and hand stitching down the binding.  

You can barely even see the knots on the checker board.  Success!  

I hand sewed the binding on the checkerboard side using blue thread.  I'm not excited about doing some hand sewing, but at least this is some practice before I work on my next quilt.I only bled on it once, but I think I got the blood out.

In one afternoon I finished hand stitching the binding.  I really prefer machine binding as a technique, but for something like this game board where the wrong side is also a right side it will get more notice than the wrong side of a quilt.  I think the hand binding looks great but I'd prefer to be able to finish it faster.  Maybe someday I'll feel differently about taking shortcuts, but I find myself sewing more than knitting these days because my crafting time is so limited with a baby and a toddler in the house.

I am really excited about the game board.  The colors are very Rebecca and it should be fun to use to teach my children some basic games.  Sure, you can play tic-tac-toe with paper and a pen, but maybe a kid can pick up the game before they know how to write.  Plus it makes a great other side to a checker board.  Now I just need some game pieces to be ready to go!

In the book 1, 2, 3, Sew I am trying to do every project even if I'm not excited about it.  I will not be able to do that with 1, 2, 3 quilt because some of the quilts require too much time and money just for practice. I do plan, however, to do as many of the small projects as possible to try to expand my comfort levels.  They may not be done in order (I am still collecting fabric scraps for the pixel pouch) but I hope to get to them eventually.

Now I have two new projects to do.  1) I need to make some game pieces so we can take advantage of this fun gameboard.  2) I need to make some kind of bag to hold the pieces.  Maybe I'll create some kind of zipper pouch or drawstring bag.  It is really fun when one craft spawns some more!  

7/20/16 pieces cut
8/5/16 Finished