Modern Plus Pattern Baby Quilt

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Dear reader, I specifically told you in my last blog post to remind me not to start a new quilt. You dropped the ball. I recently made a baby quilt. Okay, okay, so this has more to do with my lack of self control than your accountability. My little niece was born in January, and I had been itching to meet her, so to help temper my longing heart, I started cutting out squares of fabric.

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Ninety squares to be exact. For baby quilts, I base the dimensions on a standard yard of fabric – 36 x 44 inches. So I cut 5-inch squares out of two different fabrics: a navy solid and a light blue print. (Totals = 39 navy squares and 51 light blue squares)

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This quilt is a great pattern for beginners because you’re working with squares and straight lines.

After cutting the 5-inch squares, arrange the pattern on a flat surface (in my case, it’s the floor). Begin sewing the squares together a row at a time (always right sides together). I used a 0.5-inch seam allowance with the basic walking foot on my sewing machine. Then sew each row together. Stop periodically to iron the seams, and after sewing on the last row, iron the entire piece.

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It is important to take the time to iron the seams. For this quilt I used the quilting technique called “stitch-the-ditch” (I explain further down), and you need your seams to lay flat for this technique to work. Before moving on to the next step, also take the time to cut off the loose thread from the seams.

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Now that you have created the front piece of your quilt, the next step is to layer the three pieces together and start quilting. I found an adorable floral print for the back piece. It’s a standard yard (36 x 44 inches).

First, take the piece of batting and lay it on a flat surface (again, I use the floor). (I bought a crib-sized piece of polyester batting.) Take the front piece and lay it on a flat surface, with the wrong side facing up. Spray with temporary spray adhesive and let stand for a minute or two (this step is best to do outside). And then lay the front piece on top of the batting, smoothly the fabric as you lay it down. (It’s helpful to have a friend hold up one end as you smooth.) Flip the batting over and do the same with the back piece of fabric. (The back piece is a larger piece of fabric, but still make sure it lines up with the front piece. Once complete, I pin safety pins around the quilt as a precaution to keep the fabric in place.

The next step is quilting! Using the “stitch-the-ditch” quilting technique, you sew along the existing seam, creating a quilting pattern that matched the front piece. For this quilt, I sewed along the outline of each plus sign.

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Once complete, cut off all loose thread as well as any excess fabric that extends beyond the length and width of the front piece.

The final step is calling binding, the creation of the quilt’s edge. Since I had a lot of blue in a quilt made for a girl, I went with a pink binding. (I think it’s important to pick a color or fabric that helps connect the pattern and colors of the front and back pieces.) First, cut out several 2.5-inch strips, and sew them together so the fabric measure the lengths + the widths of the quilt. (I can’t remember the exact dimensions.) Iron down 0.5 inch on one side, and then pin the strip of fabric to the front side of the quilt (remember, always rights sides together).

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When you get to a corner, keep the fabric aligned with the edge, folding at the corner so the fabric overlaps (hopefully the picture can help explain). With the fabric in place, sew along the quilt’s edge with a 0.5-inch seam allowance. As you approach, stop sewing about 0.5 inch from the corner. Remove the needle from the quilt, and turn the quilt 90 degrees. Because of how you folded the fabric strip, you’ll have a excess triangle of fabric. When you put your needle back into the fabric, make sure that excess triangle is out of the way.

This process is hard to explain, but trust me, there are a ton of YouTube videos out there that are very helpful (especially for those who are visual learners like me).

With the one edge of the binding in place, I fold the fabric over the edge and whip-stitch the other side in place. (It’s a long process, but I find it easier that machine binding the whole thing!)

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Before I finished the binding, I took a moment to embroider my niece’s name. These personal touches make all the difference!

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I love the modern twist to the classic gift of a baby quilt. (And I’m a huge of the navy, blue and pink combination.) I did finally get the chance to meet my little niece, and she looks crazy cute wrapped up in this!

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A Custom Felt Playmat for my Nephew

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The brainstorming process for my nephew’s 2-year-old birthday present began about 2 months ago. I had seen ideas for a “quiet book” on Pinterest. Mostly made from felt, “quiet books” are these cute flip books filled with little activities that are meant to entertain and keep your kid still and quiet. I liked the idea (especially since Josiah is quite the jet-setter), but I wanted something bigger! (He’s my only nephew to make things like this for!) That is when I had the epiphany to create an awesome, felt play mat – customized for his life.

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I started by purchasing a yard of green fleece. In my opinion, fleece holds up better over time than felt. (Felt can shed and eventually start to ball up.) Though I planned to use felt for the details, I knew fleece would be a better foundation. Plus, fleece is much softer in case my nephew every decides he wants to use the mat as a blanket.

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Cutting out the streets and the buildings took a few days. (And as you can see, I let it take over the floor of my kitchen.) I cut everything by freehand, so I did experience some trial and error. Initially, I cut the streets pretty wide, but as I cut out more and more building, I made the streets skinnier to fit everything on the mat. (Plus, I found this cute wood cars that were the perfect size for my smaller roads.)

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With everything cut out and in place, I used no-heat sewing glue to glue everything down. The glue left marks at first, but they go away as the glue dries.

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Despite everything being glued down, I wanted to secure the felt pieces in place by sewing everything down. (I am giving this to a 2 year old.) I used clear and white thread, and it took about a week to finish since I sewed everything by hand. I also used embroidery floss to add a handful of details – like a sign for the gas station and items for sale at the market.

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The back side of the fabric shows all of the work, but no one wants to see that. So I found this adorable fabric at Joann Fabric that I used as a back piece.

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I customized this mat for Josiah, picking places that he would recognize from his everyday life. And from what I’m told, Jo loves some pizza and ice cream.

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Since they live right on the ocean, I added a beach with the surf club my brother belongs too. For the zoo, I decided to leave the space blank since Josiah has so many small, plush animals he could place there.

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I totally took this gas station/car wash idea from Pinterst. I’m obsessed with the car wash. It’s my favorite element on the whole mat!

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Dad’s office on the left, and a school on the right.

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Their local grocery store is Carrefour. I tired to copy the store’s logo. Though looking back, I’m bet I subconsciously picked a green roof because I shop at Publix. And then with a little extra space, I placed a blue U.S. mail box!

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The train station was a must! And this too is an idea I found on Pinterest. I cut rick rack into piece for the railroad tracks, and then used felt to create an accompanying train station.

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Last time I went to visit my brother and sister-in-law, we walked into the same music shop everytime we walked by it, so it was also a must-have. Plus, I think the little guitar and bongos look super cute in the windows. The fire station was added because I think it’s pretty iconic.

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These three buildings represent Josiah’s apartment on the right. His grandparents’ house is in the middle. And I added a house I thought could represent their good friends, the Wallaces. (Plus, I wanted to use the silhouette of that archway somewhere on the mat since it ties in so closely to where Josiah is growing up.)

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Finally, I added a Medena, or a little market. Of course, this is a lot smaller than the ones Josiah goes too, but I thought it was a needed detail.

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I attached the back piece of fabric the same as if I was making a quilt. I used basting spray to attach the two pieces together, and then I used denim fabric cut into 2-inch wide strips to bind the edges.

Hand-Stitch a Star Chart

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A needle and thread are the only tools you need to recreate the night sky. My love for the stars and their constellation stories are not new. (You might remember my first constellation-themed project with a pair of Toms.) So when I began to brainstorm new projects to help decorate my new desk at work, I ended reverting back to a favorite, creating this hand-stitched star chart banner.

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Like my pair of Toms, I started by splatter-painting the material with silver paint, but this time, I used a piece of navy muslin fabric. (Sorry, I did not make note of dimensions) This process helps create the look of infinite stars, adding a beautiful layer of dimension. Once done with the silver paint, I did splatter on a little white paint too.

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Once the paint dries, I start with my needle and thread. I printed off a a star chart to help with a few constellations, but for the most part, I stitched everything from memory. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, use an erasable fabric marker to draw the constellations before stitching. Along with the constellations, I stitched several additional starts to help fill in the spaces between constellations.

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To finish, I took a matching piece of navy muslin, and placed the two pieces right sides together. Using my sewing machine, I sewed them together using a 3/4 inch seam. At the top, I skipped over an inch on each side to leave room for the wood rod. After turning the fabric right-sides-out, I ironed it, placed the wood rod, and used hemp string to hang the banner.

Have an Adventure Embroidery Hoop

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I oftentimes find myself picking up a needle and thread when I have no plans after work. And like doodles on a notepad, designs begin to take shape. Many do not turn out – like a lot – but occasionally one will turn into a masterpiece. This is one of those times.

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I stuck with the fabric I love – felt – and I completely freehanded the world. Didn’t even look at a map. (I know, I’m shocked it turned out so well, too).

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With the world completely, I knew the phrase, “Let’s have an adventure” would be the perfect fit.

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Embroidery Hoop for a Wedding

I love, love, love this idea for a wedding shower gift. (So much that this my second time to use the idea.) An embroidery hoop with the couple’s names or initials along with the date of the big day creates a personal (and colorful) gift. And I like to think that if I give it to the bride at a shower, she might use it to decorate her reception.

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I kind-of lucked out with the initials of the bride and groom. I debated for a few hours if I should use their names (Wes & Meg), but I finally settled on use their initials. I’m obsessed with the symmetry.

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A image on Pinterest inspired me to try the branches, and I think it turned out great. I had very little of the brown thread,  so I decided to have two different branches: one with brown thread and medium green leaves and the other with golden yellow thread and dark green leaves.

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Finally – the all important wedding date! I used French knots to separate the numbers.

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To hide the backside of the stitches, I hot glued a circle of felt – with a felt heart – to the back.

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I figure why hide this beautiful creature with wrapping paper, so instead of wrapping the hoop, I decided to use it as a gift tag. By threading the string through clasp, the hoop will stay in place.

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A Ring of Another Sort

Wedding registries overwhelm me. I know they are meant to make gift buying easier for wedding guests, but I just see a list with way too many options. Plus, if I’m going to buy a gift, I want it to be something more special than a muffin pan.  So my crafty natural kicks in, and I embrace a homemade gift. For my most recent shower: a wedding embroidery hoop.

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My dear friend Caroline is getting married in May, giving me a great excuse to create this project I’ve seen all over Pinterest. I decided to keep the colors simple. Caroline is a very colorful person, and by using a neutral colors, I figured it would match whatever colors she decides to accompany it.

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I could probably learn a more “official” style of stitching. My embroidery skills are self-taught, but I think in this case, it turned out quite adorable!

Pack Yourself a [Felt] Lunch

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Just when I thought the felt pancakes and fried eggs were the cutest things I had made in awhile, I decided to make a felt lunch, complete with a sandwich with all the toppings, a bag of chips and a bright red apple.

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Thanks to Pinterest, I found the idea to make a bag of felt chips. After cutting out two ovals of yellow felt, I used my sewing machine to create ridges. I sewed rows of straight lines and then an additional line that outlined the whole thing. I also found an idea for tortilla chips, using off-white felt cut into triangles.

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The felt chip bag took less than 10 minutes to make. After cutting out two rectangles, I used my pinking scissors to create the zigzagged edge. Then taking one of the rectangles, I sewed the strip of light blue felt to the right side of the fabric. Next, I hand stitched the the yellow sun (again, cut out with my pinking scissors).  Finally, I put the right sides of the two rectangle pieces together and sewed along the edge (you don’t need a large seam allowance with felt). Flipped it right side out and voila!

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The felt apple was a little trickier. I found this tutorial online that I used as my guide. Basically, you need 6 pieces of red. (I just eye-balled the shape based on the tutorials’s template.) Putting rights sides together, I blanket-stitched the sections together. As you can see, this made it so you could see the red stitches. You can hide the stitches by using a sewing machine, but I think I prefer the exposed look.

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The felt sandwich is made up of several layers, each adding a pop of color.

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Starting with felt lettuce, I cut out a leaf-type shape out of green felt. Then, using my sewing machine, I stitch short lines to create veins.

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For the felt tomato, I used three pieces of felt: two round pieces of bright red felt with sections cut out and and one round piece of the dark red felt, sandwiched between the other two. I used white thread to stitch seeds, and then I hand stitched everything together. The felt onions were made with a piece of purple felt and a piece of white felt.

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I spent an hour or so trying to come up with the right meat. Using pink felt seemed strange, but then an epiphany hit. If I blanket stitch the edge with red thread, I can create felt bologna. (And yes, I did just sing the Oscar Myer’s song to help me remember how to spell bologna.) The felt cheese was much easier. I simply cut out a few holes to make it look more distinct.

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After making a version of the bread by blanket stitching two pieces of felt together, I decided that felt bread needed some dimension. It needed to seem more prominent than everything else. So I added some volume by creating a border of light brown felt and stuffing it with polyfill.

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I simply adore how colorful the sandwich turned out to be. Plus, when combined with the breakfast items already made, you have even more possibilities for the type of sandwich your child could create. BLT, anyone?

A [Felt] Breakfast of Champions

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When my sister-in-law told me that my 19-month-old nephew loved to “cook,” I figured I could chip in a few ingredients. And while Ikea has supplied him with my the basic fruits and vegetables, I thought I would provide a whole meal: felt fried eggs, felt bacon and a stack of felt pancakes.

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The easiest of the 3 items is the felt fried eggs because you really can’t go wrong. I used two pieces of the white felt (cut in any shape) and one circle of yellow felt for the yoke. Once I attached the yoke to one piece of the white felt, I blanket stitched the two pieces of white felt together (using two pieces hides the back stitch from the attaching the yoke and it adds some thickness).

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I created the felt bacon strips next. Again, using two pieces of brown felt to add thickness. I added the line of “fat” using light brown felt.

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For the felt pancakes, I cut two circles of light brown felt as well as “syrup” with dark brown felt and “butter” with yellow felt. I attached the “syrup” and “butter” to one of the circles, and then using a blanket stitch, I attached the second circle, leaving a small hole to stuff the pancakes with batting before sewing it closed.

I don’t know what what could be more adorable. Well, then there’s lunch…

Personalized Moleskin Journal

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With a new job comes the need for a brand new note pad. Oh the joys! After receiving a Barnes & Noble gift card for graduation, I invested in a few Moleskins. And though I do love a good Moleskin journal, they truly are very plain. So I decided to liven them up a bit with some simple embroidery.

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My grandmother gave me some wool embroidery floss a few years ago. Since I do not have enough to use on a major project, I like it pull it out for smaller projects like this. But the basic cotton embroidery floss works great too. Along with the thread, you’ll need the journals, embroidery needles, scissors, a ruler and a pencil.

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I started out by tracing a few lines on the inside front cover to act as a guide for my stitches. (It’s always important to stitch straight.)

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Sewing through the cover is really easy. As you can see from the picture, the stitches do reveal some strain in the cardboard, but it is only noticeable close up. Most of the stitches I used were very simple, but for one row, I used a French knot.

Creating a perfect French knot might take some practice, but it is simple to remember once you get the hang of it.

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Start by bringing the thread up into the space where the knot will be displayed.

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Next, you take the thread and wrap it around the needle. I always wrap it three times.

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Then, insert the needle back through the cover. Do not put it back through the original hole. But you want the second hole to be near the first.

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Before you pull the needle through, tighten the thread to make a knot. Then keeping the thread taunt, pull the needle through to the other side.

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In completely these steps, you have created a French knot.

IMG_2758Again, the other stitches are super easy because they are all straight lines. I was able to complete the project in the time it took to watch a movie. Though I took this one to work, I have a feeling I will pull this idea out again when I am in need of a good gift.