Saturday, May 14, 2016

Free Motion Quilted, Dye-Painted Tea Cozy

As a native Texan, I grew up drinking sweetened iced tea, but I spent my early married years in Pittsburgh PA where I became a hot tea drinker. Along the way, I learned to love tea cozies.

 Let me show you my latest.

Whenever I thrift shop, I invariably check the linens/crafts area of our local library thrift store. I've found some wonderful pieces there: hand-sewn and appliqu├ęd quilt blocks, needlepoints, cross-stitch samplers. Recently I picked up a quilter's discarded vest project. She'd free-motion quilted and then dye-painted the front panels and then did tests of channel quilting and free motion quilting on pieces of muslin for the back. I don't know why she discarded it. Maybe she didn't. We have a high population of elderly in our area, which is why I find so many good things. Survivors have no idea what to with the left-behinds, especially hand-work, more especially unfinished hand-work.

I had to add some small pieces to the side to make the piece big enough for a small cozy. Even then, it's not that large, a 2-cupper.

This isn't a great shot, but you can see I channel quilted the sides with a narrower quilting than the piece I used for the back. I did this on both sides.

For that, I used the largest piece the original quilter made--the channel quilting. I had to add a small piece to each side of this as well, but that was caught up in the seam. 

Then I made a tab out of stash muslin. You can't even tell it's a different dye lot. (Maybe it isn't. Very likely the original quilter bought hers the same place I bought mine and maybe even from the same bolt. Is that eerie, or what?)

I didn't line the cozy. The back was quilted with batting, the front with a padding.

Kinda cool innerds, innit?

Here she is again, the final product. Don't you think it has a charm to it? The original quilter's work wasn't perfect, the dyeing is just a tad off-kilter but it has an enchanted modern-art feel to it. It's currently listed in my Etsy shop here.

And I still have enough to make another, though next time I think I'll go for a 4-cupper.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lidded Origami Square Twisted Box

Many years ago, my friend Kathy made this origami box and gifted it to me. I was properly amazed; I still am. It's a gorgeous box.

Another view.

And yet another.

By the time I decided to make one myself, Kathy couldn't remember in which Tomoko Fuse book she found the instructions. (And there are so many of them!) It was only after she came down with the early stages of Alzheimer's that I realized I had to do it on my own.

It took a lot of looking before I even found what the box was called. The most used name appears to be square twisted box. 

I was unable to find instructions for the finishing details so, using Kathy's box as a model, I developed something similar.

These are my three most recent. Mine still aren't as good as hers (everything she made looked professionally done), but perhaps eventually, with a little practice they might one day be close enough.

 For the instructions:

These are mostly the tools I used. You'll need a sheet of patterned paper (I used double-sided scrapbook paper but single-sided eases over corners better), cardboard (I used the back of a desktop calendar. You want something with a bit of substance, i.e. the back of a tablet), a glue stick, bulldog paper clips, needles and thread (I used both a tapestry and a beading needle). I show linen beading thread here, but I actually only used it on one of the boxes; for the other two, I used regular black sewing thread. Also, I've shown a corner rounder but this one doesn't cut through cardboard so I rounded mine with scissors.

First, make a box following this tutorial. I start with a 5 1/4" x 7 1/2" rectangle of double-sided scrap book paper. (Note: whatever pattern is facing up when you begin to fold your paper will be the predominant pattern of the box.)


For the finishing details: Cut three squares of cardboard: one to the exact measurement of the bottom square, another a tidge smaller than the box opening (it should fit inside), and one that's approximately 1/2" larger on both sides than your opening. Mine usually work out to be 3" for the lid, 2 1/2" for the bottom and a bit smaller to fit in the opening. 

Round the corners on all three squares.

Cut a piece of patterned paper about 1/2" larger for the first and second pieces of cardboard and approximately 3/4" larger for the third. I make the top of the lid the same color/pattern as the predominant color/pattern of the box, the bottom of the lid and the bottom of the box the color/pattern on the bottom of the box.

Glue the cardboard, centered, to the paper square.

Start by gluing the corners on each end of one side. I swipe the glue over the corner, then pull the glued section onto the cardboard, then finesse the edges in little pleats until I create a roundness, gluing as I go. Believe me, even though this appears difficult, in the long run it's better than squared corners. With squared corners, the cardboard tends to poke through the paper.  

Pretend you're upholstering chair seats and ease the paper over.

Do one side/two corners at a time.

Complete all four sides.

Secure with paper clips until dry.

Glue paper in this manner onto all three cardboard squares. Then glue a finished square onto the bottom of your opened paper box. At this point, you can clamp it on two sides or weight it with a something heavy, i.e. a book.

Determine the center of the lid cardboard by measuring corner to corner and drawing an X.

Make holes all the way through both the cardboard and the paper, using a tapestry needle.

Attach your choice of buttons and beads. 

Once you've sewn on your button/bead knob, glue the square that was sized to fit inside the box opening to the one made as a lid, clamping until glue dries. 

Voila! You've finished your box.

These make great presentation boxes for jewelry. I put little  pillows inside mine (sized 2 1/2" sq. with an envelope back and stuffed with polyfil). They would be wonderful as wedding favors made with wedding gift wrap or kraft paper.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A Tribute to Max

Two months ago, we lost our marmalade cat, Max. He'd been with us since October 13, 2001 when he showed up at my sister's house, a hungry, flea-ridden, feral stray. According to the vet at the time, he was three to four months old.

I'll never forget that first night, after we took him home, he crawled into my lap while I was eating popcorn and took a piece from me. I think it was the last time he ever ate anything so banal. He quickly became a very picky eater. What can I say? He was a cat, and he held us both in one pad of his paw.

Most of our photos from his early years are prints, but here are a few that are presently in my computer. This was our old house; he liked looking out at the street from this chair, though here he's actually sleeping. He was a long kitty and hadn't yet grown into his length.

Some of these are from my phone. I never got good shots of my kitchen window in the afternoon sun but Max didn't care what time of day he was being cute; he had to check into whatever plant I brought home. 

Even a fake Christmas tree.

This is one of my favorite shots. Who me? On what counter? 

Isn't a wooden chopping block exactly the place a big old cat ought be?

Anyplace was fine for Max.

Especially in a patch of sun.

Or a pile of pillows.

Or a big ol' pile of pillows.

"Since I'm here, I might as well get comfy."

I will miss you, Max. 

Teacup Pincushion Tutorial

A while back, I picked up a couple of teacups from the thrift store, loving the luster of them, though they were sans saucers. Then, on another hunting trip, lucky find! The saucers were by the same manufacturer but a different color way. Oh, well! Both cups and saucers had the luster and black banding and both had the luscious gold. Though they mightn't work for serving tea, I don't really do that anyway, so teacup pincushions here we come. 

The one pictured above was the first I made. It's currently offered on my Etsy shop here. But if you prefer to make one of your own, I've put together a tutorial for you.

The materials needed are few, and you probably have them already in your stash: 
Teacup and saucer
Needle and thread
Small swatch of fabric (8” square or so)
Hot glue gun
Polyfill stuffing
Embellishments, as desired (I've used felt roses, a seam tape bow and a few buttons.)

Measure your cup and cut the fabric into a circle about twice as wide as your teacup opening. Just eyeball it. Mistakes can be corrected.

Actually, I miscut this one. It turned out to be a little too small, but I corrected it, as shown in the tutorial. For this one, I chose an embroidered upholstery swatch.  For the first, it was a piece of eyelet from a tattered pillowcase. It doesn't take much fabric; remnants will more than suffice. 

Using a needle and thread, sew a long stitch around the edge of the circle, about ¼” from the edge. 

Keep the thread loose at both ends. Before pulling the stitches to gather, add polyfil and fit the pincushion to your cup. You can slide it in upside down or right side up; just make sure it fits. Once it's fully stuffed to where it fits the cup. tie off the ends of the thread to keep everything in place. (If it's too small and there’s an opening at the bottom, as mine was, cover the polyfil with a small patch of fabric or felt.)

When your pincushion ball is complete, audition your embellishments. 

Here’s where you can correct any mistakes and decide if you like your choices. I auditioned lace, buttons, a seam tape bow, and felt roses. The lace was too white and the off-white rose was too bigand the turquoise rose was too turquoiseand the pincushion was too small. Fix it time! I refitted the pincushion, chose different felts for smaller roses and added a different tea-dyed lace.

Second audition, or third, or fourth. I did a few on this one!

When everything's to your liking, stitch down your embellishments. I prefer stitching to gluing at this point; it allows me to change my mind, which, as I indicated, I did a number of times. (If you're more certain, glue away!)

Everything satisfactory? Great. Start the final gluing. I do the buttons first. Arrange them in a spill on the saucer and glue one by one. On this one, I did it opposite where the handle would go. It feels more balanced.

Now run a bead of glue inside the cup, about an inch down and position your pincushion inside. (You want the glue far enough down that it won’t squeeze back up once the pincushion is inserted.)

Press in your pincushion. I arrange the embellishments/seam tape bow over the handle.

Run a bead of glue along the bottom of your cup and carefully set it in place on the saucer. 

Your pincushion is done! It’s a lovely piece to keep next to your sewing table. Or beside the chair where you do your handwork. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Felt Bouquet Redux

For the past couple of months, I've been working on a bridal bouquet for my great-niece. Thought I'd share a few of the pics taken on the way to a finished bouquet.

It's been an extended process with lots of photos posted on Facebook for approval as she lives in Pennsylvania and we're in Texas. Here are a couple of shots of the beginning flowers, the tutes for which I found all over the 'net. Amazing what you can find from talented bloggers out there!

Her great-grandmother (my MIL) died before Elizabeth was born but I had some small doilies Mum crocheted and used a few in the bouquet.

The one on the left was a triple flower doily folded into a three-layered single flower. I used a felted ball as the center for it and for the one on the right, which was a square ruffled into a flower shape. I was careful not to ruin the pieces; they can still be unstitched back to their beginning shapes.

This is another ruffled square; I used a bead center on it.

One of my dry run photos. Eliza preferred the bouquet without greenery so I deleted them in the final bouquet.

The penultimate audition shot. Bridesmaid dresses are black with begonia sashes so I used both black and begonia as accent colors with several shades of light pink as well.

She wanted burlap and lace as a handle wrap. I picked up burlap ribbon and crochet lace from Walmart, which is pretty much my only crafting supply source out here in the country. That and the internet. Thank God for Etsy!

I removed the original lace trim from the ribbon, leaving a raveled edge, and stitched two layers of the crochet lace onto the burlap with a chain stitch, making a 2-edged lace overlay.

Here I wrapped the handle with a thin felt for softness. The felt came from a roll I found at a thrift store; it's not wool and fairly thin so I ended up using four layers.

Here's the burlap and lace pinned onto the handle, final audition shot.

The completed bouquet. As accent, I used a brooch also found at a thrift shop. 

I really like the end result. Hope she does too.