Sunday, December 17, 2017

One-size-fits-all Christmas gifts

It's gratifying to give handmade gifts. However, it's that time of year when time is at a premium and everyone is so busy. Here are ideas for gifts that are thoughtful, distinctive, useful, fairly quick to make and are sure to "fit" anyone on your list—regardless of their size.
Mug rugs: one size fits all. 
Mug Rugs
Personalize this gift by using fabrics that reflect the likes, hobbies or favorites colors of the recipient. Mug Rugs can be coaster size or something a little bigger. Mine here is 11" x 8". I received a mug rug several years ago from Linda, one of my ATC swap participants, and I use it all the time in my studio. I smile and think of Linda every time I see it.

This is one of my favorite gifts to give! Pillowcases are easy to sew for the maker and a useful gift the recipient will use over and over. She/he will think of you and your thoughtfulness every night when going to bed.
Pillowcases: make them personal with a novelty fabric

Placemats, Runners and Table Toppers
Stash-busting and improvisational piecing go hand in hand with gifts like placemats and table toppers. If you have an idea of the person's decor, search your stash for colors and styles that will complement it. 
Placemats: improvisational piecing and free-motion quilting. 
Improv patchwork table runner.
For even faster turn-around, there are pre-printed placemat and runner fabric panels perfect for these projects. Visit your local quilt shop (YLQS) and ask. The quilting and your choice of a binding will add the personal touch. 

Other one-size-fits-all gift ideas 
  • quilted zippered pouches
  • fabric grocery totes (instead of getting plastic at the store), 
  • fabric drawstring bags (I use these for my slippers and shoes when I travel. Much nicer and quieter than plastic bags!).

Two more bonuses
This is a short list of one-size-fits-all gift ideas. Check YLQS for other ideas and suggestions. These projects may be quick to make, but these gift items are personal, thoughtful and one-of-a-kind. You can't get these items at the mall! 

Another bonus is for you, dear maker! You get to spend a little time at the sewing machine, practicing your free-motion quilting (on smaller size pieces). At this time of year, we need to do a little therapeutic stitching to combat all the craziness. Isn't that right, my blogger stalker??
Mug rug is pin-basted and ready for free-motion quilting.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Filling a defined shape with a quilting motif

Sometimes we want to fill a specific space on a quilt with a quilting motif. It could be an alternate block, a setting triangle, sashing or other defined space. Why not practice free-motion quilting and filling shapes using improv patchwork? 
Filling defined shapes and spaces with free-motion quilting.
This improv quilt is for Jesse The Wonder Cat and the kitties at The Cat Clinic. The improvisational patchwork actually has parts of a fabric handbag that never made it to the quilting stage, so I decided to repurpose the pieces for the kitties. Other improv blocks were incorporated to make the top to size.
The "handbag" kitty quilt, 30.5" x 25"
When I sit down to quilt these small format quilts, I decide on a technique or motif I need to practice. With the larger blocks and a variety of sizes of squares, rectangles and triangles, this quilt top was a good canvas for fillers and motifs in defined spaces.
Zig-zags and a feather in triangular shapes
Moving from section to section, I also got in practice for ditch stitching. You can see the outlines of the shapes (stitching in the ditch) more clearly from the back.
Ditch stitching (back view).
These kitty charity quilts have an abundance of potential for practicing free-motion quilting. And the kitties love them!

Enjoy the antics of the special kitties, Jesse the Wonder Cat, Silly Willie the Super Scooter, Good Golly Miss Dolly that reside at the Cat Clinic of Chattanooga. And if you're thinking about opening your heart to a furry friend this holiday season, there are many cats and dogs that need forever homes. Contact your local shelter to inquire.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

No-sew products for piecing batting scraps, and more

Rarely (if ever) does the size of a quilt batting perfectly coincide with the size of your quilt top. There are always trimmings and irregular-sized pieces left over. And... the frugal and efficient makers that we are... we save them. Right? 
Using Heat Press to fuse batting scraps together.
If you're not making a lot of little projects—mug rugs, zippered pouches, soft books, and such—you probably have a "collection" of these miscellaneous chunks... too big to throw away but not quite big enough for a current need.

Heat Press to the Rescue
I posted two methods for joining batting pieces together: by machine in this post, and by hand in this post. But here is a great product for piecing batting scraps together—using an iron. It's called "Heat Press."

Heat Press is 1.5" wide and is packaged in a roll.
Heat Press is a lightweight, fusible tricot product. It comes on a roll: 15 yards by 1.5" wide. Just lay out the batting pieces, butting them together. Cut a length of Heat Press to cover the join and fuse (low heat with the iron*). Easy and fast and the product is undetectable when machine quilting. [NOTE: I have not tried it with hand quilting, but would be interested in hearing anyone's experience with hand quilting or hand stitching with this product. How 'bout you, my blog stalker, have you hand stitched with this product?]

*The package instructions recommend different heat settings depending on the fiber content of the batting and whether your iron has a teflon plate or not. Be sure to read this so you don't melt the fusible or damage the batting.

More products for other uses
The Heat Press website is chock full of helpful information: video demos, tips and information about related products such as an Appliqué Tape and (OMGosh) a "Stretchy Hem Tape" for working with knits that comes in white and black! Anyone tried this stuff?

These products were invented by Jeanne Harwood, a quilter, garment sewer, instructor and consultant to apparel manufacturers. The products are 100% Made in the USA and can be purchased through the Heat Press website or ask for them at YLQS [your local quilt shop].

Got batting scraps? Use 'em and fuse 'em for your next project.
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