Archive for December, 2008

How I spent my Christmas vacation

First, I fringed the back of my son’s jeans and polar fleece quilt, washed it, giving it that sufficiently “raggy” look, and gave it to him for Christmas (he loves it):

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And a closeup of the ragged edges:

back of raggy quilt closeup

Then I made a row for Project Linus, using Quiltmaker’sLotsa Pops” pattern. I’m sending it after the first, when postage from Costa Rica goes down slightly. Here are two of the blocks. I noticed a mistake on the pattern, FYI, if you decide to make a row or a whole quilt. On page 4, which has the paper piecing pattern for the double ice pop, the rectangle B should be 1″ x 3-1/2″, not 1″ x 3″ as it states. But you’d probably notice that when you made the block anyway. This one reminds me of an orange creamsicle (mmm….):

orange creamsicle

This one reminds me of one of those strawberry crunch pops the ice cream man sold from his truck (amazingly, there are still ice cream men here in Costa Rica! I got my son a fudgesicle from the ice cream man last week, in fact):

Double ice pop

And finally, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while — I made something out of a sheet my MIL gave my husband and I years ago. It had beautiful embroidery on it, but it just didn’t fit in with our decor (and the cotton was heavy for a sheet in C.R.). A few months ago, I was going through some back issues of McCall’s Quick Quilts and found a pattern for making placemats out of vintage linens and 30’s prints (the March 2005 issue). Ah-ha! Lightbulb moment. So I cut up the sheet, using plain parts of the sheet as backing, low-loft cotton batting, and random strips of small and medium country-esque prints (I didn’t have many 30’s prints here at all). I think they came out super cute, and while I was making these, I also thought that you wouldn’t even need to use vintage linens to make this project. With all of the embroidery machines out there, if you have one of those, you could just embroider a vintage motif and use that instead. Or, how cute would these be for Christmas? Maybe with redwork embroidery and Christmas strips? So many ideas, so little time! As you can see, I still need to bind them, but I did at least square them up. So they’re almost ready to go:

vintage placemats

I still have the center piece of the sheet, which is a beautiful embroidered peacock surrounded by flowers. I couldn’t bear to cut it up. I may just frame it as artwork, which is what it is, really. Or perhaps use it as a center piece in a medallion quilt…

What projects did you get to work on over the holidays?

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Rag Jeans and Polar Fleece Quilt

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This is a quilt I’ve been wanting to make for a while, ever since I started saving old jeans, thinking that “someday” I’d do something with them. Then my MIL gave my son a few pieces of fleece (Spiderman, sports and airplanes), so I thought, why not make a raggy jeans quilt with all of it? Here’s how I made it:

I cut squares from the jeans that were about 9-1/2″; I chose that size simply because I had a square ruler that is 9-1/2″ so it made for an easy template! You could really make the squares any size you want. I did the same thing with the polar fleece, then matched wrong sides together, and quilted the blocks. For most of the blocks, I just did a simple X (one corner to the other), though I wanted to keep some of the jeans pockets on, and for those I basically just stitched around the pocket. The idea is just to hold the squares together. You don’t have to use batting for this quilt, so there’s no need to worry about it bunching up.

Besides saving some pockets, I also saved a couple of Levi’s tags. I liked showing some of the details of the jeans that you don’t normally see when you wear them, such as these two printed pieces inside a pocket on a pair of Levi’s:

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And, I used some of the denim wrong side out. This gave a little more subtlety with the blues, and also showed off some of the stitching that, again, one normally doesn’t see because it’s on the inside of the jeans. I even saved the front of one pair of jeans, sewing around the zipper and button so that my son (he’s 4-1/2) could zip and unzip and store toys inside and in the pockets.

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While most rag denim quilts have the ragged side on the front (denim) side, I decided to rag the fleece (back) side instead. I did this because I thought that with the extra pockets and notions and things I’d stuck on the front, it would look too busy with the fringe as well. Of course, it might have looked just fine, but once it was sewn, there was no way I was going to take it apart!

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I sewed the blocks together using a 1/2″ seam allowance, but of course this again is flexible. Some people use an inch or 3/4″; whatever seam allowance you use is what the length of the rag fringe will be. I sewed denim sides together, which made the rag side on the fleece side. If you wanted the denim to be the rag side, just sew the fleece sides together.

After putting all of the rows together (I made the quilt 7 rows of 6 blocks each, which makes a nice size lap quilt or throw for watching t.v.) comes the arduous task of snipping all of the exposed seams to get the ragged fringe. Basically, you just snip every 1/4″ or 1/2″ almost to the stitching on the seams. I’ve tried several different kinds of scissors, and for me the easiest to do this with is a pair of applique scissors. No matter what kind of scissors you use, your hand will probably get really tired after doing a few rows! This is the worst part of making the quilt, I think, but I just kept telling myself, “It’s almost done… it’s almost done!”

I love the way this quilt turned out! I probably spent about 8-10 hours total making it, so it’s definitely a project you could do in a weekend. I’ve heard that not putting fleece in the dryer keeps it from pilling; however, the whole point of a rag quilt is that the more often you wash and dry it, the raggier the fringes get. Plus, at my house, we have nine dogs and four cats, and at least some of them are going to be sitting on the quilt at any one time. So it will have to go in the dryer to get the pet hair off. I’ll just cross my fingers and hope for the best. You could also use flannel instead of fleece, which won’t pill. Anti-pilling polar fleece is also sold, but I am quite doubtful that is what my MIL bought. Oh well! It’s a quilt to be loved and keep warm, not to hang on a wall. If it pills, it pills! Que sera, sera!

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Project Linus time!

Every year Quiltmaker magazine designs a new, easy pattern for Project Linus. If you don’t already know about this organization, they donate blankets to children in need, and especially children in hospitals. It’s a fantastic organization, and through Quiltmaker, you don’t even need to create an entire quilt to participate! Just piece together one row of the Lotsa Pops pattern (an adorable pattern of popsicles with alternating blue blocks) and send it in to the address given in the pattern by January 26, 2009. I’m challenging all of you out there to create one row and send it in — will you join me in helping to bring joy to a needy child’s life?

P.S. If the block in my paper piecing primer scared you, don’t worry, this pattern is extremely simple! It will give those of you who want to try paper piecing an easy pattern to try out.