" ". The Smiling Cat: 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quick Santa or Holiday Printed Panel Pillow Cover~

  The same thing happens every year-I wonder where another year has gone!  After Thanksgiving- ‘poof’ it’s Christmas & New Years again.  Time to finish Holiday projects is running out.  I’m always looking for a few quick, last minute gifts to make. 
My sewing circle regularly swaps scrap fabrics, and I particularly like exchanging Holiday themed prints.  Angels, snowmen, Christmas trees & stars, and Santa-I love them all!  These are some of the fabrics I received:   

I usually don’t use printed panels, they’re a little too cutesy.  But this Santa has such a great expression, I love the twinkle in his eyes, so I decided to use it.  Since there isn’t much time-a simple 18” pillow cover.

Since my son is grown now, I don’t decorate as much for the Holidays.  Just a wreath & my little ceramic tree.  But, I have several friends who go all out decorating for Christmas.  I thought a Santa pillow cover would be a fun gift for this year and for the years to follow…….   and certainly easy to make.
I started by trimming the Santa panel to 10-1/2”x13-1/2” trying to make it as square as possible, but that didn’t leave much seam allowance on the sides.  I cut 1-1/2” & 2” strips from the Debbie Mum snowflake fabric and 3” & 5” strips from the light blue.  I like using the blue fabric, getting away from the Christmas “red & green” theme.

I first sewed the wider 2” ‘snowflake’ fabric strips to the sides, then the 1-1/2” strips to the top and bottom using 1/4” seams.  Again, trying to make it as square as possible.  Pressing all seams toward the outside edges. 

Then sewed the wider 5” blue strips to each side, and the other two 3” strips to the top and bottom.  Again, I pressed the seams toward the outside edges, and trimmed the finished piece to a 18-1/2” square.  Layered it with light-weight batting and just plain white cotton for backing.  I started by stitching in the ditch on both sides of the snowflake border. 

Now, the fun begins!  I’ve never done free-motion quilting-honestly, it scares me a little.  I decided to experiment with my open-toe foot, to see how curvy I could quilt with out the free-motion foot.  I first outlined his eye brows….


and his moustaches.  I went slowly and stopped to turn between stitches, but I managed to make some nice curves.

Then stitched a few lines across his cap and around the pom-pom on his cap.  Still happy with the look of the quilting, so I started on his beard.

I managed to sew a few nice curves-I might give the free motion quilting a try.  I’ve let myself get stuck in a rut with the stitch-in-the-ditch & straight line quilting.  Any way, happy with the front of the cover, it’s time to make the back.
I cut a piece of the snowflake fabric 18-1/2”x24”, then measured 6-1/2” up from the bottom, and cut the back in to two pieces.  I cut it this way so that I could keep the fabric pattern straight.
Next, I put a 18” covered zipper in between the top & bottom pieces of backing fabric that I just cut.  This sounds a little confusing, but just follow one step at a time.  I zig zagged  across both cut edges to prevent fraying.  I pressed the zig zaged top of the smaller bottom piece under 1”.

Presentation zipper

Then, I pinned the bottom of the zipper across the folded under edge.

With my sewing machine’s zipper foot on, I sewed the zipper in place.  First with the zipper half-way open, to avoid having to sew around the zipper pull, I sewed to the zipper pull at the middle,


then pulled the zipper closed and continued  sewing the zipper in place.  Now I pressed under 2” of the top piece’s bottom, zig zaged the edge, and positioned the top edge of the zipper onto the pressed under edge.  The extra inch of fold will cover the zipper. 

Line the bottom zipper edge with the zig zaged edge as shown in the picture above.  I know this sounds complicated, but just take it one step at a time. 


Again, start sewing with the zipper open, then pull zipper closed so that you aren’t sewing around the zipper pull.

Be sure to keep the fabric’s pattern lined up straight while putting in the zipper.

Now, trim both the front & back to 18-1/2” square, and place front & back together with right sides facing each other.  First baste both ends of the zipper in place on the seam lines.  Make sure everything is lined up straight & square.

Sew front to back.   Be sure to leave the zipper open so that you can turn the cover right side out after sewing sides together.  Before turning it right side out, finish by zig zaging the raw edges all the way around.

This what the pillow looked like at first.  I wasn’t too happy with the pointy ends, so I went back and rounded off the corners a bit.


Much better!  The zipper in the back is almost hidden-

And that’s it- all done!  Use it to cover an old pillow, or an 18" pillow form.
Blogger Labels: Quick,Santa,pillow cover,Christmas time,gifts,holidays,easy,simple,project,decorating,gift,fabric panel,sewing,Debbie Mum,fabric,theme,last-minute,cotton,quilted,,machine quilting,afternoon project,fabrics,panels,pieces,snowflake

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Scrappy Autumn Place-mats~


Hello, here it is, Autumn again!  Although we don’t have a very dramatic change of seasons on the CA coast-the days are getting shorter & the nights are a bit chilly.  People are putting up their Halloween decorations & buying bags of candy, the holiday season has begun.  Soon it will be time to take the Christmas decorations out of storage & hang the Christmas lights.  After Halloween, time seems to fly by-I guess it’s because there is so much to do!  Decorating, shopping, cooking, baking special goodies, crafts and sewing projects.
This is my latest sewing  project:  Scrappy Autumn Place-mats. 


At least that’s what I’m calling them.  I love place-mats because they are an inexpensive & practical  way to dress –up the table. Cloth napkins are also practical & just, well- nicer.  As is usual for people who sew, I’m always trying to organize my hoard of fabrics.  I started by sorting out fabrics for Christmas, but discovered quite a few Autumn themed prints & solids.  The main, maple leaf, fabric has diagonal lines in its pattern-which led me to use this random braid design.  It’s starts by foundation piecing the middle braid.  I used this pattern- 

braid-pppTo print this pattern, follow this link to: Scrappy Braid Pattern.

Many people prefer to use paper as a foundation, which is removed when finished.  I think fabric makes a more stable foundation, even though it’s thicker.   I like to use light-weight scrap fabric as a foundation, I save old sheets, pillow cases-what ever.  Cut a piece that’s about 3-1/2”x18-1/2”, trace it on to the fabric using a pencil & ruler.  The pattern is only 5” long, but it’s enough to get started.

When foundation piecing, you place the fabric pieces on the front, and sew on the lines drawn on the back of the fabric.  Start by cutting a triangle that’s just a bit bigger than the beginning triangle.  Cover the triangle area on the front of the fabric with the right side facing out.  Place another piece of fabric on top of  the 1st, right sides together.  Match the two edges with the first line that’s between the 1st & 2nd area.  Then stitch on the line between the 1st (triangle) & the 2nd area. 

It’s alright if you sew past the next line, it will be sewn over.  After you sew the seam, trim the edge, then flip the piece over to right side out and press.

Next, place another small piece of fabric over the 3rd area, making sure it’s slightly larger than the section.  Match-up as before, this time sewing on the line between the 2nd & 3rd section.

Trim, flip open and iron, again.

Getting the idea?  The pattern will end, but just keep going, alternating the sides like this with random-sized pieces, to the bottom of the strip.

When you reach the bottom,

Trim the strip to 2-1/2”x18”.  The strip will be a little stretchy(I don’t know what else to call it), so iron it with a good amount of spray starch before taking the next step.

Next, I cut two 1-1/2” strips of dark green cotton, and sewed one to each side of the braid.  Ironed with a little more spray starch, pressing the seams toward the outside edge.

Cut two 1-1/2”x18” strips of tan fabric, and do the same as before.  You should have a 6-1/2”x18” piece of work, now.

Add a 4” strip of the Fall print to each side, press the seams toward the outside edge.  Now cut a 13”x18” piece of quilt batting & fabric for the backing.  Center and layer:  pieced top, then the batting, plain fabric backing on the bottom.


I just stitched along the six long lengthwise seams, and another two lengthwise down the middle of the Fall fabric.  I used invisible machine quilting thread on the top, and thread matching the backing fabric in the bobbin.  You may have noticed that I changed from having the green backing to the tan backing.  It just looks better.  After the quilting, I centered & trimmed the piece to 12-1/2”x17-1/2”.

I finished the edges with double-fold binding, the same as I would a quilt. You can find my binding tutorial Here.

I also made matching cotton dinner napkins hemmed with mitered corners. A first for me!  I thought they would be tricky & time consuming.  But, I found that miter corners aren’t that difficult.  I found a tutorial at Sew4Home,  a great resource for all kinds of home sewing projects.  It may seem a bit fussy, but really makes a difference!  This tutorial first turns over a 3/8” hem, then an 1” finishing hem.  I did the 3/8”, but then turned over 1/2” finishing hem.  The 1” hem seemed too wide for napkins.  I’m pleased with the result.
Well, I hope you like this project.  Leave me a comment-I’d love to hear what you think!
Bye for now-Carole
Blogger Labels: mitered corner,Scrappy,Autumn,Place-mats,decorations,Christmas projects,cloth,leaf,fabric,braid,foundation,Pattern,piece,seam,cotton,Fall,quilt,layer,machine,bias,method,dinner,tutorial,resource,fabrics,pieces,seams,napkins,triangle,spray starch

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gaining a New Perspective~

Recently a new fabric shop, Superbuzzy, opened only six blocks from my home.  I’ve walked by it a few times and thought it was a scrapbooking/paper craft store.  Finally, I took another look in the window, and saw racks of beautiful fabrics!  Mostly bright solids & modern Japanese prints.  Japanese, not Asian, the very latest trends. Very different from the other quilt shops in my area- intriguing.  I had a great time looking through the fabric, and chatting with the sales girl, Misty, who invited me to the next guild meeting at the shop-the Modern Quilt Guild of Ventura.  Modern Quilts?  Now, I’ve seen many art quilts online, but they aren’t necessarily ‘Modern’.  So, I decided to do a little research. 
I found:  Modern quilting is a rapidly growing movement, which began online and is now meeting in the ‘real’ world to create a modern aesthetic.  This is accomplished through fabric selection, asymmetry, increased use of negative space, & the improvisation of traditional blocks.  The emphasis is to make functional rather than decorative quilts, to embrace simplicity & minimalism, and to be able to finish quilts on home sewing machines.  Modern quilts are inspired by modern art & architecture, contain bold colors & graphic prints, and often use gray & white as neutrals.  All very interesting, I looked forward to the meeting.  I’ve been to two of the guild’s meetings now, and am even more interested.  I’ve always loved the geometry of traditional quilting-all the pieces meeting & fitting together so precisely.  The repetition of the blocks & the secondary patterns that they can create.  I’ve spent years gaining the necessary skills to create these blocks, but the freedom to color outside the lines is appealing.
The Modern Quilt Guild recently finished “100 Days of Modern Quilts” on their website.  Here are some of the quilts that I found appealing:


This is ‘Life in Technicolor’ by Jacquie Gering.  Brightly colored solids & prints, and improvisational blocks.  A white background with exquisite quilting.

This quilt is also by Jacquie Gering, ‘Proposal Moon.  I love the contrast of the bright orange against the shades of gray background.  And again, the quilting is just beautiful.

This third example is ‘Embracing Grey’ by Alissa Haight Carlton.  Again, a fairly simple design with a bright, solid yellow, gray & white background.  Though the patterns are fairly easy to construct, they have impact.  The heavy quilting is subtle, but the commitment of time & patience….
To see the other quilts featured go to:  100 Days of Modern Quilts-
Fueled with enthusiasm, I brought out a project I’d started, but thought it was just boring.  It began as a French Country inspired table runner, but-

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Blogger Labels: new perspective,fabric,Superbuzzy,Japanese,quilt,guild,Modern,Ventura,movement,selection,asymmetry,improvisation,minimalism,repetition,freedom,Life in Technicolor,Jacquie Gering,Proposal Moon,Embracing Grey,Alissa Carlton Haight,impact,commitment,French Country,Country,table-runner,fabrics,trends,