" ". The Smiling Cat: 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beautiful Memory Quilt Up-cycled from a Wedding Dress

This is so beautiful-I had to share!

Featured Member Quilts - 24 Blocks

This is the loveliest keepsake quilt I can imagine, it was featured on 24 Blocks FB page.  It was made by Lucy  Portsmouth for one of her customers from their wedding dress.

Lucy commented:  "I made this quilt from a wedding dress... the beading was lifted off the dress and re-attached to the quilt, and the whole thing is machine embroidered with a flowing leaf pattern.... the tulle ruffle around the edge was made from the dress petticoat."  The amount of handwork involved is clear in the photo and Lucy's hard work has resulted in a beautiful quilt.

I guess this kind of project has never occurred to me, because I've never had a big, formal wedding, and no expensive gown- but.....it makes so much sense!  A wedding dress is often the most special, if not the most expensive item in a woman's wardrobe.  Most women don't want to sell their wedding dress, but why just put it away for future use by a daughter or other relative?  It may be difficult to consider cutting up such a treasure, but why not use the material to create something elegant that can be used & enjoyed every day?!  Not just the fabric; add the lace and other special details like the buttons, beads & other trim. Maybe one of the bridesmaids would be willing to "contribute" her dress to the project, to add a bit of color and continue the wedding theme.  I imagine the tricky part of the construction, is reusing the delicate fabrics typically used for wedding dresses.  Foundation piecing might be a good technique to use. 

What an amazing gift for a sister or friend who can’t sew! 

Inspired by this, I explored online a bit to see what info I could find.  Unfortunately, I mostly found ads by those who want to create, then sell you a memory quilt.  After digging around, I did find these tutorials....

This first one is from www.Netplaces.com:

"Quilt A Memory" by Terrry L. Rye & Jacquelynne Johnson

Quilt A Memory Pattern~

This quilt isn't made from a wedding dress, but I love the look.  Their free pattern is clear & detailed, although a bit dated!  It would be easy to use this pattern as a guide to take your own direction.  This is a signature quilt made from white cotton squares signed by guests at the wedding reception.

Also a good idea from www.WeddingBee.com.....

Memory Quilt :  wedding palm springs Quilt2

How To Make a Memory Quilt~

This is also a signature quilt with a nice tutorial about stamping the signatures permanently with ink.  This one also suggests collecting the signatures at the bridal shower rather than the wedding reception...interesting?

I suppose any traditional block can be used, or simple crazy quilting:

(via:  Pinterest)
Or more ornate:

(via: kittyandmedesigns.blogspot.com)
I have to show these, just because these are so pretty:

Crazy quilted Christmas ornaments, also designed by Pamela Kellogg of  Kitty and Me Designs.

Interested in Crazy Quilting?:

History of Crazy Quilts~

Wedding dresses aren't of much use sitting away in a closet just wasting space.  Think about repurposing them into something useful & full of beautiful memories!  Also, there are many lovely wedding dresses that have been donated to thrift shops or are for sale in consignment shops.  Not all will get a second life in a wedding and the fabric they contain might a special, new keepsake.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thrifty Blue Pinstripe Pinwheels Made from Men’s Shirting


I love men’s cotton shirting fabric, and (don’t laugh) I always look through the men’s shirt section when thrifty shopping.  I find quite a few good quality, cotton dress shirts that don’t show much, if any wear, and only cost around $5.00.  The colors may be muted, but come in delightful large & thin stripes, paisleys, and other fun prints.  Each long sleeve shirt can be cut into five good-sized pieces:  two front pieces, two sleeves and the back.  You end up with at least a yard of good quality, usable fabric, and get several nice-sized buttons as well.

I found this pretty, medium blue with a narrow orange pinstripe cotton.  Great colors & I love the woven texture!  I paired it with a dark yellow cotton linen, left-overs from a past project, that I’d already cut into 5” squares.  Pinstripes….led to pinwheel squares. 
To make 64 (3-1/2”) pinwheels, I used: 
  •   32-5” squares of pinstripe men’s shirting- One large Men’s long-sleeve dress shirt should be plenty.
  •   32-5” squares( 5/8 to one yard) of bright yellow cotton linen
You could use this pattern to make pinwheels using pre-cut 5” Charm Squares.  You would be able to make two pinwheel squares from each 5” charm square paired with yellow, white or another neutral color.
In order to make the pinwheels, I needed to make 1/2 square triangles.  The yellow linen was already cut into 5” squares, so I cut a few 5” squares of the striped fabric to experiment with some ideas.  I settled on making four 1/2 square triangle units from each 5” square pair of fabrics, using the ‘X marks the spot system’.  I began by marking a pencil line on each diagonal.
After marking the X-I fed them one by one through my machine, corner to corner, chain sewing a 1/4” seam on both sides of each drawn line. Because I was cutting so many units from each square, and so much handling can pull out stitches, I did a quick backstitch at the beginning and end of each square.
Quick tip:  When reaching the end of first chain, DON’T cut them apart yet!  With needle still down in last stitch, raise presser foot, turn around and then sew down the other side of the line, while they’re still attached.

Just pull them along, twisting and turning them right side up.  This saves time and thread!  Now cut to separate, clipping both threads at once.
After cutting them apart, I pressed them, being careful not to pull and distort the fabric.  I repeated these steps on the other diagonal:
  I pressed again, using spray starch, and then cut the squares in half lengthwise……

…………………………………………………………………………………and cross-wise.
Lastly, I cut the resulting squares in half by cutting on the pencil line.
After cutting them apart, I carefully pressed the units open, pressing toward the blue cotton.  I noticed that even though this is a simple, even stripe-I got four distinctly different 1/2 square triangles, which were approximately 2” square.   So, I sorted them into four stacks, and arranged these stacks in the correct placement of the pinwheel, keeping the stripes going the same direction.
I finished one block as a “master” and kept it to compare each new block to as I continued.  I started with the top row of units, flipping the right unit over the left unit, right sides together, lining up the diagonal seams.  I stacked the pairs, keeping the side to be sewn to the rightPresentation1fI chained stitched the units together, using a 1/4” seam, then pressed open.  Because the yellow linen is thicker, I pressed toward the blue stripe fabric, and trimmed off the little triangle ‘dog ears’.  I did the same with the bottom row.  Then, I matched the center seams and sewed the top row to the bottom row.  This time I pressed the seams open.

I trimmed the pinwheels to 3-1/2” square.  Pretty-  huh?!

To connect the pinwheels.  I cut 1” strips of an orange cotton as sashing.  I divided the pinwheels into two piles, and started by sewing a sashing strip to the bottom of the first pile. I pressed toward the sashing, then added the second pinwheel to the opposite side of the orange sashing.
Again, I divided the units into two piles, and connected these units with another strip of orange sashing.  These completed blocks were 7” square.  Then, I cut 1-1/2” sashing strips of a solid blue cotton.  I repeated the same steps as with the orange sashing to join the pinwheel blocks together, to form 4-pinwheel blocks.  These measured 14-1/2” square.

I ended up with four of the 4-pinwheel blocks, and connected them with more of the blue sashing.  I used the blue sashing as the first border.  Then added a 1/2” yellow border, and a 1-1/2” border of a pale blue cotton that I decided to use as the backing.  Another border of the remains of the 1/2” orange sashing, and then the last of the 1-1/2” medium blue sashing.  This project sure made a dent in my scrap stash, and I love the bright colors!

Here it is layered, pinned and ready for quilting.  I haven’t quite decided how to finish this project.  But, I’ve just been using up some of my ‘left-over’ fabrics, so why not experiment a bit?   
That’s all for now-Carole

Monday, May 13, 2013

Daisy-An Appliqué Cat-Fusible Web Appliqué

My sister, Lyn is a successful novelist.  She helped pioneered the ‘Inspirational Romance’ genre.  Recently, she asked me to be a guest at her blog-Books by Lyn Cote.  Her stories have a strong, Christian message, and are historically accurate.  The following is the project I shared with her.  I don’t know if it’s what she expected, but I hope she likes it!
I only get to see my big sis, Lyn, once a year, usually in the summer, at her lovely home in upper WI.  Last summer we spent an afternoon at a quilt show in nearby Eagle River.  Trees for Tomorrow Park provided the perfect setting for the Cranberry Country Quilt Guild’s ‘Walk in the Woods’ Quilt Show. Beautiful quilts displayed informally outside on clotheslines between the trees. 
Along with the quilts were lots of vendors, such as Laura Krasinski, who was representing Bigfork Bay Cotton Co.  She was also selling her first original pattern, Daisy, a raw-edge, appliqué cat pattern.  My sister bought the pattern and I promised to make it for her.  She wanted to have something made by me to hang in her office, she’s such a sweetie.  When she asked me to be a guest on her blog, I thought it would be the perfect project to share.

The ‘Daisy’ Pattern can be found at Craftsy.

The pattern includes a layout guide and three sheets of fusible web with the pattern pieces already printed on them.  This is not a pattern for beginners, at least intermediate appliqué skills are needed.  The instructions are very general, leaving most decisions up to the quilter, and its designed to use up small scraps of favorite fabrics.  The original Daisy pattern was fused, raw-edge appliquéd and then simply quilted.  I decided to loosen up and see where the pattern would lead me.

First, I got out my rayon machine embroidery thread, and started matching fabrics with the threads.  I tried to choose a nice variety of colors, and since the pattern pieces where small, I stuck to mostly solid fabrics. 

First, I picked a light blue cotton for the background, sprayed it heavily with the spray starch and pressed it.  The pattern told me to start with the grass, so I ironed the grass pattern piece to the wrong side of the green grass fabric.  Then, I cut it out and fused it to the bottom of the blue background. 

Next, I started working on the cat.  I decided on a black & white cat, to match my kitty-‘Miss Cookie’.

I fused the cat pattern to the black cotton I’d picked out. Fusible web has a paper side & a sticky side. The pattern piece is traced on the paper side then the sticky side is pressed to the back of the fabric. The pattern piece is cut out; the paper is pulled off, leaving a sticky film on the back of the piece. I fused the sticky back to the blue background as shown on the guide.

I set-up my sewing machine with my black rayon thread, and used a tight zig-zag stitch to sew the cat’s body to the background.  Again, I positioned it as shown on the guide.  Now, the pattern directed me to draw on the cat’s face with a fine sharpie, but I decided to hand embroider the face. 

I traced the face on plain, white cotton.  Also, I decided to include the cat’s ears on the head rather than separately.

When I was happy with the face, I fused the web to the back, right over the stitching.  I cut it out and positioned the head as shown on the guide, and pressed it to  the background.  Then, I pinned a small piece of fabric stabilizer to the back of the background, to prevent puckering, as the piece was a bit small. 

I switched my machine to white thread, and again used a tight zig-zag stitch to sew it to the background.  I also added a small piece of black fabric to the  top of the head.

While I had the white thread in, I decided to put a heart-shaped patch on the body. Then, I started adding a few white flower shapes. Still zig-zagging, I added two flowers, then trimmed around the stabilizer.

Time to stop & see how things were shaping up.
Yikes! So boring. I needed to put a bit more thought into this. I showed it to my friend, Debbie, and she started pulling different fabrics from her stash. When she pulled out the ‘Day Glow Daisy’ fabric, I knew we were on to something.

I got out my super sharp appliqué scissors, and cut the cat figure away from the blue background-careful not to cut into the outline stitching. Then, I stitched the kitty to the new background, added a few flowers & leaves.

Next, another friend, Diana, helped me do some simple, free motion quilting. Lastly, I finished it with the original light-blue fabric as binding.

So, do you think my sister, Lyn, will like it?


Laura Krasinski has designed a companion pattern- a dog-Dexter!  It can be found at Laura's wesite Laura Krasinski.com.

Well, that’s all for now, Carole

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Springtime, Butterflies & New Pillow Covers

DSC01534 (1)
In the days before central heat & air, preparing the house for summer involved more than just turning a dial from heat to cool.  Storm windows were replaced with screens, heavy curtains were exchanged for lighter ones that didn’t block welcome breezes.  Lightweight cotton spreads were were put on the beds, while the quilts were stored until fall.  Now many of these practices have become a decorating choice rather than a necessity.  Along with cotton bed spreads- changing table linens, slipcovers & pillow covers are easy, and inexpensive ways to brighten your home’s decor for Spring.  Pillow covers, in particular, are versatile and so easy to make.  The covers can be filled with an insert, or can be used to cover an old pillow.  The following is three variations of a basic pillow cover pattern which can be found HERE.

This first pillow cover is made of a water color cotton print, it looks like melted crayons to me.  It’s just the basic pattern, but with large, decorative buttons on the front, instead of small utility buttons on the back.


This second pillow cover uses a foundation- pieced butterfly pattern.  Foundation piecing may seem complicated, but this is very easy.
First just print out this Butterfly  PATTERN and trace it on to plain, white cotton or light-colored scrap fabric.  You could also just paper-piece it if you like.  I prefer using a fabric foundation-and I always seem to have fabric scraps I need to use up.

When foundation piecing, the fabric is placed on the front, but is stitched on the printed lines on the back.  So, to begin, cover the #1 section with a small piece of white fabric, facing right side out. Then, cut a piece of the butterfly fabric that’s a bit bigger than section #2.  With the right side of the fabric facing toward the white fabric, line up the edge of the #2 fabric with the line between #1 & #2, overlapping it.

Sew on the line between #1 and #2.  Then fold open and press.

Next, cut a piece to cover section #3, position as before and sew on the line between #2 and #3.

Again, fold open and press.

Continue with this until all the sections are covered.  Then sew the other two pieces of the butterfly, and sew these together to make a complete butterfly.

Press seams open on the back.  For a more detailed explanation of foundation piecing, see my previous post, Rainbow Chevron Block Table Runner -Here.

I made three of these little, 4” butterflies from different fabrics, and stitched on the little, black antennas, and decorated the wings with buttons.
I then framed the butterflies with blue strips and thinner pink strips.  I finished by sewing a blue, pink & white floral fabric to the top & bottom.

Also used this white & floral fabric for the back, completed with four white buttons.  Again, I finished the pillow cover using the basic pattern which can be found  HERE.

This last pillow cover is a simple patchwork pattern of vintage cotton & linen, though it does involve a little fussy cutting.

To fussy cut is to target and cut a specific motif that's printed on fabric, rather than randomly cutting yardage as we normally do.  I wanted to use the white embroidery of this peach-colored vintage cotton  This is usually done using a template-there are many kinds of these available.  I usually just make my own.  I save clear, plastic coffee lids to make templates for fussy-cutting.  I cut a paper shape, tape the shape on the coffee lid, then cut it out.  After I decide what area I want to use, I trace around the template with pencil, and cut it out with scissors.  Usually the goal is to cut identical shapes, but I cut these randomly.  

After I cut as many of the 2-1/2” squares of the coral cotton as I could, I matched them with 2-1/2” cotton linen squares.

Next, I chain-stitched them together using a 1/4” seam allowance.

I hunted through my fabric stash & found a few other fabrics to add to the pattern, green gingham, a yellow plaid, and a floral, vintage cotton handkerchief.

Next, I cut the other fabrics into 2-1/2” squares, and arranged them randomly-then sewed them together, again using 1/4” seam.  It’s funny but, I’ve found it’s harder to arrange patches randomly, then to follow a pattern.  You’d think it would be the other way around.

In the end, I had a 18-1/2” square.  I layered it with thin cotton batting and a cream colored backing.  I decided to try using a twin needle that I bought for a different project, but hadn’t used.  It was much easier to set-up & use than I’d thought.  Happy with the way it looked-I stitched down each seam.  I started in the middle, and worked my way out.  Also, I kept turning the square around so that it didn’t start to curve in one direction. 


Happy with the pillow top, I finished the cover using this PATTERN

Well, that’s all for now.  Please leave a comment so I know that you stopped by- Carole
Blogger Labels: Springtime,Butterflies,cotton,decorating,foundation,easy pattern,fabric,paper piecing,piecing,scrap fabric,buttons,home decor,fabric strips,fussy cutting,simple pattern,motif,embroidery,template,pillow pattern,sewing pattern,vintage fabric,spring colors,housewares,handkerchief,quilted,SewEtcetera,Carole May,quilt block,variations,pattern pieces,quilting,fabrics,patchwork,templates,patches,pillow cover,top stitching,twin needles,linen