Monday, April 29, 2024

A Gift for Nora

 Hi.  I feel the need to write more often, and share other projects.  Today I had the pleasure of joining my friends from Molloy College (now University) Glee Club.  We met over 40 years ago, and bonded over our love of music, singing in the glee club, and Irish heritage, for most of us.  We kept in touch over the years, as 3 of them were in my bridal party, and since I moved back to NY, have had a few occasions and outings together.  Today was Denise's daughter's bridal shower.  

Nora is getting married in June, and Denise and the bridal party planned a wonderful afternoon.  I loved the theme! The invitation said "She's been Scooped Up" and everything revolved around ice cream!  Even Nora's purse looked like an ice cream cone, but was a rectangle.  Nora's registry included beach themed decor, so that was my inspiration. Nora also loves the color pink.  My plan was to make a table topper for her.  

I chose the Coastal Row Boat Scene from Embroidery Library for the center of the Center Stage top.  It's a good fast pattern by Pieced Tree, and I've used it a few times, because the center is a 12" square.  It makes a top that's about 24" across, but octagon shape, which would work as a table topper or wall hanging.  I picked White solid by Island Batik for the background and a pink with hearts from an older collection, and a blue from the Foundations.  I chose some Aurifil thread colors that were similar to the embroidery sample, and got to work.  I'm still learning more about my embroidery machine, the Janome 550.  I used the largest hoop, backed the fabric with fusible lightweight interfacing, and used a tear away stabilizer.  The design stitched out beautifully, except for one thread change that didn't actually stop for a change.  The grass on the right side was supposed to be tan, but the darker grey from the sky area went right there and started stitching, so I let it go.  What I didn't like was the lack of color in the sky.  I've had a set of Derwent Inktense pencils for a while and wanted to add some color to the sky, as if it was nearing sunset and the clouds had a touch of pink.  I've never used the pencils before, but I'm always willing to try something new, and to learn.  I watched a few videos on Youtube about how others use them, and how to create the look of watercolor paintings.  I tested a few colors and techniques on the edges of the background fabric, which I knew I was going to trim off.  The colors were what I wanted, but were too intense for the look I was hoping to achieve, so I drew with the pencils on some watercolor paper I had.  I played with applying water with a brush until I actually had the color I was hoping for. then put the color from the brush on the testing area of fabric.  That was exactly what I wanted!  It left the bare hint of sunset colors on the clouds.  I played a little with pink, orange, and lavender, and think the clouds came out so well.  I also added a little tan shadow for the boat and to hint at the sand.  Island Batik Solid White is PFD, prepared for Dying, so I knew the fabric wouldn't need any prep on my part.  

My next step was to prep the Half Square Triangles.  
I needed 12 sets of 3 different combinations, so I cut strips and pieced them together.  Instead of using the 8 at a Time square, I did 12 along a strip set.  I do love trimming them with my Triangle Square tool from Quilt in a Day.  You trim as they are folded, so you only need to do 2 sides, then trim the dog ears, then press open to a square.  Fast! 

Once those were done, the top was together in just over an hour later. 

Next step, load it on the Handi-Quilter Amara long arm, with white Aurifil 40-three thread, solid white backing, and a scrap of Warm & White batting.  I picked the design Sally by the Seashore by My Creative Stitches for an edge to edge, and stitched over the embroidery center, too. 

I used more of the blue for binding, and here's the finished topper! 
Nora graciously opened it, when she wasn't opening gifts at the shower, but I mentioned I had made it for her, so she was excited to see it. 

The seashell quilting adds just the right touch. 

Just how I pictured it to look when finished!  
I'm thrilled that she liked it, too.  

I love sharing my projects with people who I know will appreciate them.  

So, that's today's adventure.  Here's the group of friends, minus Kathy, who was under the weather.  
Yes, I'm letting my natural hair color come out. I'll get new professional photos after it's done.  (I'm on the right).  This is a fabulous group of women who support each other and love to laugh.  I'm honored to be included.  More adventures to come! Thanks for reading. 


Saturday, April 27, 2024

Funky Friends with Island Batik

                                         Meet Slowpoke, the Funky Friends Sloth.  

For April, the Island Batik Ambassadors were asked to choose a Funky Friends pattern to make a stuffed toy.  It always makes me smile when I see the above blog logo: I made the Hedgehog and the Squirrel for Island Batik a few years ago.  I've also made a butterfly, bunnies and some others.  

Pauline creates so many cute toy patterns, you'll have fun finding a few favorites.  There's even a free Bear pattern.  You purchase online, and download the pattern, so you can start right away.  I do suggest you get some safety Craft Eyes, maybe a nose, or find some buttons you want to use, and a bag of Polyfil or similar stuffing.  

This time I picked the Sloth.  My brother is moving slower than usual, and his friends started calling him a sloth, so he has a window sticker and a few other items they give him as a joke.  Also, when the pandemic hit, my new friend Noele and I joked about being sloths.  It is such a cute design, so I wanted to make one.  

Note, the pattern and fabric were provided by Island Batik and Funky Friends Factory, along with Aurifil thread and Schmetz needles, in my role as ambassador.  I provided the eyes and stuffing and hook and loop tape.  

First, once you choose your pattern and purchase it, you'll see it's well written, but may not have photos for detailed steps.  Pauline has started to write blog posts full of photos for the patterns, so you can see them online, and zoom if needed, plus it saves you some paper.  There's a link on the instruction page.  I do recommend changing your page margins to the largest length you can get on your printer, or use Legal size paper.  I didn't discover this until after I printed the pattern pieces, and the Arm piece was just a little short, the bottom didn't print.  I figured out how much to add, but didn't have the markings for matching the Claw sections.  Pauline did try to help, but I was away and opted not to reprint just that one page.  The others I could draw the lines to connect (it was a square corner or 2).  I also printed the directions pages 2 sided, and saved the pattern shape pages for 1 sided.  

Pauline also suggests gluing the printed pattern to thin cardboard, and I know others have used Freezer paper.  I actually just use the printer paper.  Before I was a quilter, I made lots of clothes, so this is similar.  Pauline also suggests cutting out one layer at a time, and flipping the patterns to cut the reverse.  I fold the fabric right sides together and cut both at once.  It saves time.  Do what you think is best for you.  

For the fabric for Slowpoke, I used some of my signature collection, Local Motion, which is available in some shops now.  I loved the colors and tjaps of the ones I picked, and thought it would look "sloth-like".  For the applique around the eyes and the nose, I used another from Local Motion, the Gears in dark teal.  The nose is actually fussy cut, so it has a little bit of the gear on it.  I used Aurifil 50wt in cream for the assembly, a gold color for the buttonhole stitch for the eye applique part, and Aurifloss, 3 strands in a dark brown for the mouth and nose embroidery.  

Pauline's patterns have check boxes for keeping track of the steps, and you do need to mark the match points, "leave open" sections and some of the letters, so you know what she means when she says "sew from A to G, H to J" etc.  It's well written, and if you start with an easier pattern, you'll soon have a cute toy!  Some are more challenging, but she labels them.

You may notice in the photos that I'm not using my Janome 9450, but the Janome 5300, the one I bought for back-up and classes.  My big machine is having a Spa day at Pocono Sew & Vac.  This machine has a knee lift that came in very handy when sewing the curves, especially the claws.  My 9450 has an auto lift, but I made an error placing the bobbin case back after a cleaning, and the machine wasn't happy.  I had to travel to Ohio for a family issue, and was going right past Pocono, so I dropped it off.  I'm grateful I have the back up machine, as it's lighter and has some great features, including a lot of specialty stitches, and the knee lift.  

Anyway, back to the progress.  I added some fusible interfacing where the eyes were going, to add stability, since you need to cut holes for the safety eyes to go through.  I could have used fusible web for the eye patches, but just pinned them in place, and did the applique stitching.  

I also use Pinking Shears to trim the seams and clip curves.  Some of the more detailed curves need additional clips, but most of the gentle ones, pinkers work.  
Ready to be stuffed! 

The best way to get the stuffing into the claws and snout is with a chopstick or pusher.  The bags of PolyFil I've used have some pushers in them.  You do need lots of stuffing to make the animals stand up, so be generous with it.  Then get ready to do the final embroidery and close any of the openings.  

Slowpoke wanted to try hanging in the pine tree, but was laughing too hard getting tickled by the pine needles for me to get good photos.  

He liked hanging in the other tree better, but really enjoyed sitting on my comfy chair on the deck.  Heather joined him for a few minutes.  

I hope you've enjoyed reading the adventures of creating Slowpoke the Sloth.  I don't plan to give this to Heather, but some of the toys could be made pet safe.  I do hope you decide to look at Pauline's many designs and find something to make for someone special in your life.  Please also check the other Ambassador blogs to see what they've made.  There are some really cute projects.  

Brenda Alburl ~ Songbird Designs

Renee Atkinson ~ Pink Tulip Quilting

Megan Best ~ BestQuilter

Pamela Boatright ~ PamelaQuilts

Susan Deshensky ~ Lady Blue Quilts Studio

Brittany Fisher ~ Bobbin with Brittany

Preeti Harris ~ Sew Preeti Quilts

Mania Hatziioannidi ~ Mania for quilts

Kim Jamieson-Hirst ~ Chatterbox Quilts

Victoria Johnson ~ Forever Quilting for You

Connie Kauffman ~ Kauffman Designs

Connie Kresin Campbell ~ Freemotion by the River

Emily Leachman ~ The Darling Dogwood

Denise Looney ~ A Quiltery

Leah Malasky ~ Quilted Delights

Maryellen McAuliffe ~ Mary Mack Made Mine

Lisa Pickering ~ Lisa’s Quilting Passion

Sarah Pitcher ~ Pitcher’s Boutique

Lana Russel ~ Lana Quilts

Julia Schweri ~ Inflorescence Designs

Gail Sheppard ~ Quilting Gail

Carol Stanek ~ Stitch with Color

Sandra Starley ~ Textile Time Travels

Jennifer Thomas ~ Curlicue Creations

Suzy Webster ~ Websterquilt