Woodland [Felt] Creature Mobile

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Felt and woodland creatures are a pretty adorable combo! I created this sweet baby mobile for friend preparing a nursery for her son. The theme: animals.

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I’m pretty proud of this project because I created the animals without templates. It took me a couple tries to get the right look, especially for the raccoon, but that’s why we sketch things out.

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Once I was happy with the sketches, I used them as a template to cut out the felt. Working with a front and back piece for each animal, I added details, sewed the pieces (right sides) together and used fiberfill to make them slightly plush.

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To create the mobile, I initially thought I would use an embroidery hoop for the structure. But then I found this piece of wood at JoAnn Fabrics, and I thought it really added to the “woodland” theme.

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I forgot the technical name of the hooks I used, but they screwed into the wood board really easily. I used twine to hang the animals. I even added a few felt leaves as an final  touch.

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Stages of the [Felt] Moon

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Oftentimes, when an idea pops into my head, I question its originality. People say there’s no such things as an original idea anymore… right?

After finishing this project, I have seen so many references to the moon phases in others’ craft projects and art pieces. Original… maybe. But the truth is, we all influence each other.

To be fair, I have always had a love of space (as several posts on this blog can prove.)

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After the idea came to me, it only took 30 minutes to complete this simple project. I had circle of wood that I mounted the felt to with Mod Podge, and I used tape to attached the circles on the string. (My 8th grade science teacher should be proud that I remembered the moon phases without having to reference the Internet.)

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Travel-Inspired Embroidery Baby Announcement 

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I am oftentimes asked to create something based on a piece of inspiration a person has found. In the case of this project, a friend had seen a swatch of fabric with a pattern made out of travel tags representing cities all of the world.

This friend, Rachel, is a great traveler, and as the birth of her second child approached, she asked me to make a embroidery baby announcement based on the fabric swatch.

Let me tell you, this project was fun!

I asked Rachel to pick four cities she wanted me to represent, and she was kind to let me design the rest. I decided to keep it simple. I used airport codes, but for cities with more vague codes like OSL, I thought it was best to include the name of the city.

I worked to complete the eight tags in the months leading up to her due date, and then finally, once little Elliott was born, I stitched in his name and info. I also did a zig zag stitch to overlock the edges to avoid unraveling before Rachel could get the piece framed.

A Black (Copy) Cat Quilt

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Over the 4th of July, my family lost our black cat, Bosley. He might have been a stubborn, little cat, but we sure did love him. Awhile ago, with the help of Pinterest, I stumbled upon mermag.blogspot.com and this fantastic pattern for a black cat quilt. This fall, I decided to make it for my mother’s birthday. I figured that a quilt would help keep her warm this winter since Bosley would not be by her side. The final result was fantastic, and thanks to Merrilee’s pattern, it was quick and easy to make!

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The black cat blocks require 6 pieces.

(Top) Large white rectangle = 9 x 3 inches, 84 pieces
(Left) Medium white rectangle = 3 x 5.25 inches, 84 pieces
(Middle) Black square = 4 x 4 inches, 42 pieces
(Right) Small white rectangle = 2 x 4 inches, 42 pieces
(Bottom) White triangle = 2 x 2 inches, 84 pieces
(Bottom) Black triangle = 2 x 2 inches, 84 pieces

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Mermag’s blog post has a wonderful step-by-step visual guide for sewing the blocks together. You start with the ears and work to create the sweet little face.

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I made 42 blocks in total, and sewed them together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. The quilt was 6 blocks wide and 7 blocks tall.

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I did run out of the white fabric mid-way through. I was using scrap fabric that was this cool, stiff, linen texture, and I struggled to find a matching fabric at the store. So I bought the closest match I could find, and I purposefully spaced the blocks that used the new fabric so the change looked intentional. I think the difference is quite noticeable in the picture below, but with the finished quilt, you really only notice the change if I pointed it out.

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I wanted to keep the quite light and bright, so I selected a simple pattern for the back piece, and I binded the quilt with a  yellow cotton fabric (my mom’s favorite color).

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Excuse the wrinkles. The quilt got a little squished when I wrapped it up. But wrinkles aside, I love, love, love this pattern, and I was so happy to give this to my mother for her birthday.

A little freehand stitching

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One night, I decided to do a little freehand stitching, not really knowing what I wanted the final piece to be. I started by creating the bowl, and then the different succulents started to take shape. Sewing can have a lot of rules, and I love – from time to time – to take a break from straight lines and even stitches to do something more spontaneous. The final product was the perfect addition to a care package a sent to a dear friend.

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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Piecing Together a Dresden Plate Quilt

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It was about this time last year that I took this picture. It was in the midst of Birmingham’s Snowpocalypse 2014, and with the office closed and roads a mess, I had nothing better to do than start a quilt. Now – more than a year later – I found the motivation to pick up where I left off with the hopes of finishing my first full-size quilt before the end of March.

The pattern is called the Dresden plate. (I also heard it be called the flower or floral plate.) The idea has been floating around in my head ever since I finished my last quilt (as my Pinterest board can attest.) Finally, I bit the bullet (a year ago) and purchased the template blocks and got started.

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Piecing this pattern is a two step process that involves a lot of ironing. Step one: cut out the pieces. I used the template, a rotary cutter and mat to cut out each piece. I then took the top of each piece (where the fabric comes to a point), folded over a 1/4 inch seam allowance and pressed the seams. Step two: sew pieces together in sections. Instead of sewing the ring together piece by piece, it is much easier to work in sections: sewing pieces into pairs – stop and iron – then pairs to quarters – stop and iron – quarters to halves – stop and iron – and finally 2 halves into 1 whole circle.

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With a plate completed, the next step is to applique it to a block of fabric. For my quilt, I cut each block to measure 15 x 15 inches.

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Now some tutorials will show you how to hand-applique the plate in place, but I decided to cheat and use heat n’ bond iron-on adhesive. I cut a piece of adhesive to be smaller than the plate, leaving the outer points untouched. (A downside of using iron-on adhesive is that it will make the fabric stiffer, but I find it so helpful in keeping the fabric in place.)

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After ironing the piece of adhesive to the plate, I peeled off the back side, placed the plate in the center of the block and ironed it in place.

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Next, I cut the center circle. Instead of pressing the seams, I decided to use the heat n’ bond to avoid frayed edges. (This may back fire on my one day, but for now, it makes this step super easy.) I simply ironed the circle in place.

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Finally, I hand stitched the outer edge and center circle to help secure everything in place. (Plus, I think the stitching enhances the overall look.)

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For my quilt, I need 35 of these blocks, and I have made 10 so far. So I have quite the feat in front of me. In the meantime, feel free to visit my Patchwork Pinterest board. (And remind me I cannot start a new quilt until I finish this one!)