Sunday, October 26, 2008

Penny Pinching Patchwork Post - Burp Cloths

I understand very well the current need for all of us to become more thrifty in our quilting endeavors in this financially difficult time. I have decided to start writing occasional posts with thriftiness in mind and do my part. I am going to call them Penny-Pinching Patchwork Posts. This past week as I was staring at my meager flannel stash (don't use much flannel down here in sunny Florida), and loving the softness of the fabric, I came up with a project that turned out a wonderful and functional gift, used up some flannel stash, and used a great deal of the cotton batting scraps that I save for projects such as this one. The project? Burp Cloths!
All of us, after having sandwiched and quilted our quilts, trim off the minimum of three extra inches of batting from all the way around the quilt. What do you do with those long strips of batting? I save mine! Those pieces can be made into a larger piece very easily and they then can work wonderfully for projects such as burp cloths, tote bags, pot holders, etc. You just straighten up and trim one long edge on each piece with a rotary cutter and then butt the two edges together (do not overlap them) and zig zag the pieces together. Keep (frugally) trimming and adding pieces until you have the desired size. Normally I use natural colored or white cotton thread, but for the purpose of illustration, I used purple cotton thread. I made eight burp cloths for my soon to be born granddaughter, Olivia, using nothing but scrap flannel and cotton batting. Next time you have a baby shower or a new loved one about to be born, whip up these ever so soft and necessary gifts!
After I pieced five "all one cloth" burp cloths (they measure about 10 x 2o inches finished) I found I still had some scraps of the fabric left over. None of the pieces were large enough to make one burp cloth, so I pieced four small pieces together four times (four pieces to a side) to get two more burp cloths!
Below you see the entire set, minus the Christmas one I made after I took the photos. Olivia is due December 9th, so when I found a piece of Christmas flannel, I knew immediately what I was going to do with it. Every Christmas baby should have a special burp cloth for that day.
Below you can see some of the fun edge stitching I did on each burp cloth. Prior to cutting the flannel, I washed and dried it to get the shrinking out of the way. Then I ironed each piece of flannel, cut out the shape I wanted from the flannel and batting, and layered with flannel right sides together and batting on top of that. I then sewed the seams leaving a small opening to turn it right side out. Once turned right side out, I ironed it nicely and then topped stitched it with a straight stitch. Inside of that top stitch row I sewed a fancy row of stitching. I found that this keeps the cloth nice after washing and drying it - it keeps the cloths from getting all wonky. Then as a final step I sew one straight row of stitches from side to side across the middle where the cloth would lay across your shoulder. It is a wonderful gift for a new parent!
To finish off my Penny Pinching Patchwork Post, I am including one of my favorite quotes regarding thriftiness:

Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character. ~Calvin Coolidge

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Importance of Keeping up with Current Events

Well, this was certainly a few weeks full of lessons for me. As I had mentioned, I will be teaching a Quilted Toddler Jacket class in a few weeks at Country Quilts and Bears. I have been a busy beaver sewing up samples for the shop that illustrate the many methods that one could use to create this jacket. I wanted to show a variety hoping to encourage quilters to sign up and take my class. I had made a bunch of jackets but I gave them all to my beautiful granddaughter like any good Grandma would, so my "jacket stash" was depleted. They were her size, after all. So, in my infinite wisdom I decided that I needed to make a jacket that was suitable for a boy, and another one for a girl. Hmmmmmm, what do little boys like? BASEBALL! Not thinking much farther than that, I decided almost immediately on making a Boston Red Sox jacket because their socks are just so darn cute (and I already had an outline of socks from a prior project) and what a wonderful way to show off my applique skills, right? WRONG!
I worked on this Sox jacket hours and hours before my husband noticed and says in the sweetest voice, "Honey, do you really think that a quilt shop in Tampa Bay is going to want to put a Red Sox jacket on display in their shop? Especially since there is a very good chance that Tampa Bay will actually be playing the Red Sox in the playoffs?" WHO KNEW??? Let's think about those odds for a few moments... I could have died. Cut ahead one week, and guess who's playing who in the playoffs? Yep, you guessed it. It's the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox.
This past Friday I go marching into Country Quilts and Bears with my Boston Red Sox jacket in my tote bag and showed it to the wonderful owner, Marilyn. Oh, the look on her face. It was priceless. "Oh, my," she says. You see, as luck would have it, her husband and partner in the shop, John, is a die hard Rays fan and understandably this just isn't going to work. So home I go, humbled and laughing, with teal and yellow fabric under my arm, because after all, where do I live? TAMPA BAY! I really must start reading something other than quilting magazines.
So long story longer, here is the Tampa Bay Rays Quilted Toddler Jacket that is now prominently displayed on the counter in the quilt shop in Tampa Bay.....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pieced Curtains from Scraps!

In addition to working on samples for my upcoming class where I will be teaching the wonderful women at Clearwater's Country Quilts and Bears how to make my newest pattern, the Quilted Toddler Jacket, I have been making some curtains for my little angel's bedroom in western New York. Her mommy thought that pieced curtains would be nice, and that the fabrics and colors from the quilt I made for Madelyn when she was a baby would look great. The quilt is on the foot of her bed, and there is a better photo further down showing Madelyn laying on it when I gave it to her. So, as luck would have it I still had some of those fabrics left laying about and after a quick trip to Country Quilts and Bears I had enough fabric to complete the project. A quick trip to JoAnn Fabrics for lining and I was ready to sew.
I cut the fabrics into 5.5 inch squares, and started piecing to fit the sizes of the windows. Obviously, their beautiful 200+ year old home needs custom curtains because when I measured the windows I found that even when a window is on the same wall, and looks identical to it's neighbor, the measurements can differ by as much as 5 inches! I guess back then they built the windows on site, and didn't order them from Pella.
Never one to miss an opportunity to stick in a photo or two of my little angel, above is my peanut playing in her room. Below, showing how much she has grown, is a photo of Madelyn on the quilt the day I gave it to her.
The last photo, I must admit, I have put in for purely self-indulgent reasons. Isn't she just the cutest thing ever? That is a photo of Madelyn at her first dance class, standing there in her first Tutu with her dance tights drooping around her ankles and her Tutu sliding off her shoulder. Oh, to be that unconcerned with clothing perfection again. She is so excited just to be there, with friends, taking it all in. Big sigh. Grandchildren are the biggest gift of all.