Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Wreath Tutorial

For quite some time I have been looking for the perfect summer wreath.  Last summer I found one I was absolutely in love with at Tai Pan Trading, but it was $80.  I just couldn't justify spending that much money on something I was going to hang on my door so I passed it up. This weekend my mom was in town (that meant lots of girl time and shopping!) and I went on the hunt for a wreath again. I fell in love with this one from Hobby Lobby.  It had a price tag of $119.99 (perhaps I have expensive taste?) but was on sale for 50% off.  Even then I couldn't justify spending $60 for a wreath...even if I really, really liked it and still kind of want it.

 So finding a compromise, I picked out a grapevine wreath, chevron burlap, and a large "B"(all from Hobby Lobby and using their 40% off coupon that is available on mobile devices).

I knew I wanted to showcase the chevron burlap, so I decide to run it across the wreath.  I secured the burlap using a hot glue gun.

Next I found some old stems that I had used as decor, but currently didn't have a use for.

I pulled all of the leaves off of the stems and glued them to the wreath.

Next, I painted my B a bright green and left it looking a little shabby and worn.  Then my sweet husband drilled some holes through the top and bottom of the B so I could run wire through it to hook it to the wreath.

After a few attempts at wiring, it was finally done!

Total cost out of pocket was roughly $15.

Supplies bought:
grapevine wreath
chevron burlap
letter B

Supplies on hand:
glue/glue gun

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Afternoon Swoon

It's been gloomy and rainy the past few days and that has kept the kids and I trapped inside. That's ok though, because I found it was the perfect opportunity to finish up my Swoon quilt.

This thing seems like it has taken me forever to finish since it kept getting put aside for other projects.  I always love the feeling I get while stitching on the last border and knowing that when that seam is done, the quilt is officially pieced. I'm not generally a patient person when it comes to projects.  Once I decide I want to do something, I want it done now. This project stressed me because I don't generally piece larger quilts and it took longer than I wanted. I love to do lap size or twin size quilts because they go together so quickly and it works well with my need for instant project completion gratification.

 I love how this quilt looks on my wall.  I'd leave it up until it went it the quilter's if it wasn't for the four rambunctious, dirty handed little boys I live with. I wish I could quilt this myself, but it's too big to fit through my machine. Hopefully one day I'll be able to afford a mid-arm or long-arm, but for now I'll have to find someone to do the job for me. This quilt sure lives up to it's name.  Once I had it on the wall I think we all swooned over it.  Even my little three year old told me he loved it.

Fabric is a mix of Marmalade and Bliss by Bonnie and Camille for Moda.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quilting 101: Cutting Basics

 Welcome to Part Two of our Quilting 101 series. Today we are going to be covering the basics of using a rotary cutter. One of my college professors repeatedly told me "80% of your sewing success happens in the cutting room.  If you don't get cutting right, you won't have a successful project." I'm here today to testify that her statement is very true and the importance of perfect cutting is essential in quilt making.  Even being a fraction of an inch off on your cutting can make it so your project isn't pieced together perfectly.

To start off you will need: a cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter.  Olfa and Fiskars are the most popular brands and I have loved working with both.  I am currently using a Fiskars set that was given to me as a gift quite a few years ago.

Always make sure you have a workable, sharp blade.  Using a dull blade can make it so you have to use multiple passes to get your cut, and can decrease the accuracy of your cut. Most blades have a simple lever that you slide to open and close it.  Always make sure to close your blade as soon as you have made a cut.

To start out, you will need to square up your fabric.  You do this by folding the two selvages together.  The selvage is the edge of your fabric that was finished by the looms in order to prevent raveling.  It should look like this.

Once your selvages are together, smooth out your fabric to create your first fold.  This fold is your first true square on your fabric.  Selvages don't create a true square as they can be stretched and pulled as they pass through the looms.  Line your fold up on a lengthwise grid and fold the selvage back down to the fold. Make sure to smooth out all wrinkles, but keep the selvage and fold lined up together.

After you do this, you will probably find that your edges don't match up. That's ok, this is why we are squaring up the fabric before we start cutting our strips.

 Keeping your fold perfectly aligned with the lengthwise grid, take your ruler and lay it on top of your fabric, running parallel with the side you will be cutting. Line up your ruler on the line that runs vertical and then make sure it is square by matching up your horizontal lines. 

After double checking to make sure everything is square, place your hand firmly on the ruler (making sure not to slide the ruler so it isn't square) and use your other hand to cut the fabric. Starting closest to your body, and pushing away from you, make one quick cut. 

If your blade is sharp, you should only have to make one pass. Do NOT drag the blade backward towards yourself.  If you find that you have to make another cut, do it with the same forward motion as the first time.

Now that your fabric is square, you can start cutting your strips.  As you can tell from the above picture, I was working on the right hand side of my cutting mat.  You will now need to carefully flip your fabric so the square side is on the left had side of your cutting mat. For my project, I am cutting 3 inch strips. So I carefully lay my ruler over the square side until I have lined it up with the 3 inch mark on the ruler.  I check to make sure I am square with both my horizontal and vertical lines and then I cut.

Some of you may be wondering why I didn't just leave the fabric how it was after I squared it up and counted over 3 inches on my grid and then cut.  The reason for this is that if I happened to slip while I was cutting, I would have cut into my strip and ruined it.  If you cut your strips with the ruler completely covering it, then if you slip or make a mistake, the strip is fine and all you have to do is re-square up your edge. This really cuts down on wasted fabric because you won't have to re-cut another strip or be tempted to use a damaged strip because you don't want to waste the fabric.

Once all of your strips are cut, you can then use the same method to sub-cut them into squares, rectangles, or whatever you need.

A few notes:

It is important to make sure you don't fold your fabric up too much. The most I ever fold my fabric over is twice.  The reason for this is that the more folds you have, the more likely you are to get bunching, or  have your fabric shift. This can result in you cutting a strip that looks like this.

You may have noticed there are angled lines on your  mat.  Most mats come standard with 30, 45, and 60 degree lines.  These can be used for a variety of things like trimming half square triangles (HSTs).

I hope you found this post helpful! There are so many more things to do with cutting, but my hope was to cover the basics so someone who has never used a rotary cutter could pick one up and get cutting out their first quilt. Stay tuned for part 3 of this series, Basic Blocks: Half Square Triangles and Flying Geese.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day and a (kind of) New Table

Just popping in to wish all of you a Happy Mother's Day...and to show you my awesome mother's day present.

First of all, I am thankful for these boys.  All five of them.  The big one for being the most wonderful husband ever, and the other four for giving me the privilege of being their mother. Today in church the children sang a few songs for their mothers.  As I saw my three older boys walking down from the stand, holding each other's hands, and being so cute in their matching ties, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the wonderful opportunity to be a mother. I am also thankful for my own sweet mother.  She is someone who is so selfless and who does so much for me and my little family. I am so blessed to have such a great mother.

 So about seven years ago, we inherited this table from my husband's mother's estate.  Its been a nice and sturdy table, but I've always thought it was ugly. About two years ago, my husband sanded the top down (it used to be darker and uglier than this) and painted the pedestal black.  Then we bought these new chairs from RC Willey.

The changes satisfied me for awhile, but lately I'd been talking about retiring this table to my sewing room and buying a new one.  The top was still hideous to me and the two tone style was looking pretty dated. My husband couldn't justify buying a new table when this one was still very sturdy and functional.  We compromised and he painted it white for me for Mother's Day. I. Love. It. 

 I've had a few people ask how we painted it.  We used Rustoleum High Perfomance Enamel primer and then used Rustoleum High Performance Enamel in white.  Then it was glazed with Minwax Polyurethane clear coat.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Simple Things

This past weekend a girl I went to school with passed away.  Most of us in our graduating class of 72 people went to school together K-12, so it hits close to home when one of them passes away. She was such a sweet person and I can never remember her saying anything bad about anyone.  She always had a smile on her face and was always eager to make a friend.  I remember befriending her our Junior year.  She was often to school early, and would wait by the backdoor of the school for me to get there. She would then walk with me to class and we would talk. She always seemed so happy to have someone to talk to. I ran into her last summer at our class reunion and spent quite a bit of time talking with her. She had had a lot of medical problems since graduation including a stroke and shoulder surgery.  At the time of our reunion, she was in a brace and on crutches after falling and hurting her back and leg. I am so very thankful that I was able to sit and talk with her...its a memory I will long treasure.  Life is fragile.  Good health is fragile. Nothing brings this to the forefront more than losing someone you know. This week as I have pondered on her passing, I've determined more to focus on the simple things.

Like snuggling with my little boys...

...spending time playing on the floor with my baby...

...listening to endless stories about Star Wars and watching my oldest create his own starships...

...watching my middle two peacefully sleep after a long morning at the park.

Thank you, Michelle, for all of the memories.  Thank you for reminding me not to take life for granted. Thank you for helping me to slow down and focus on what really matters.