Applique Name Pillows

For Christmas this year my sister asked if I would make name pillows for her kids. I think they turned out pretty cute. And finally they are done and will be on their way, only a couple of weeks late. Oh wait. When did it get to be April?! Well, you know what they say about better being late… Right?

My sister wanted to do something that would be distinctly boy and girl, not matchy-matchy, but still coordinate with each other. I loved pulling the fabrics for this and I think they worked out rather well. Can I just say again how much I love that navy is so popular right now? Works perfect for both boys and girls, I think.

The letters were appliqued by my friend Sara. (Thank heaven. She did a much better job than I would have. Thanks again Sara!) I have learned that I am not a precise sewer and have come to terms with and accepted the fact. With quilting I can kind of fudge things, and my imperfections are hidden by multiple seams, big picture, etc. But I wanted these to look nice as well as be durable (since they are for kids) and since I can’t sew an outline – especially a curve – to save my life, I’m so glad Sara came to the rescue.

These are the backs we used. It was so fun to pull solely from my stash. And I especially loved putting that Sarah Jane Children at Play Rockets print to good use. (I googled it and saw some still available here.)

Pulling for this project, I really fell in love with the color palette. Now I’m itching to make a baby girl quilt in with this group. I’m going to have to leave this stack together for a little while longer.

One more important thing checked off the list. Merry Christmas in April! Now to get working on the other 43 things…

(If you are checking her for a review of Modern Quilt Perspectives, I will be reviewing it on Monday, April 7. Seems there was a little mix-up with the warehouse shipping the book. Whoops. I’m so excited to see it and share it!)

Collection of Pillow Tutorials

Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side is hosting a series of Pillow Tutorials this week on her blog called the Pillow Collective. Personally, I love how pillows are such a quick finish compared to a quilt, not to mention a great way to get a quilt block or color scheme out of your system without having to commit to a whole quilt – like the paper-pieced star pillow I made last year.

Here are a few other pillow projects with tutorials that I’ve created:

Visit Amy’s Blog as well as the other creative people listed below to see lots of ideas – new and old – that might serve as the perfect inspiration for a quick new project. Also included are lots of helpful links to tutorials for finishing pillow backs, edges, etc.

Monday: Amy EllisApril Rosenthal & Lisa Calle

And if you would like to create a pillow of your own, you can link up later this month with a chance to win fabric prizes!

Triangle star quilt block tutorial

I’ve been playing with 60 degree – or equilateral – triangles this past week and made a fun little star quilt block.
So while I was at it, I decided to make a quick and simple tutorial to show how I did it. The equilateral triangle is a fun one to play with. The best part is that they’re easy to sew together without any Y seams.
For this project you will want 24 light, low-volume prints, triangles and 12 red triangles, 3 triangles each from 4 different red prints.
There are lots of ways to cut 60 degree, or equilateral triangles. I used a new 4 1/2″ triangle die from AccuQuilt, which I love. It makes cutting those triangles so quick and easy. I love that it has the corner tips trimmed, so that you don’t have to clip any corners later. There are also little notches on the two bias sides, perfect for helping to match-up seams.

If you don’t have a triangle die-cut blade, don’t despair! There are some great 60 degree rulers on the market.

For this project, if you are using a ruler, cut a 4 1/4″ wide strip and then use a ruler to cut the 60 degree angles, rotating the ruler to get multiple equilateral triangles from the strip.
Equilateral triangles can also be cut using a regular quilting ruler as long as it has a 60 degree line. Line up the 60 degree lines with the bottom edge of the strip and rotate the ruler to get the equilateral triangle shapes.
Lay out the triangles in the design you want. You will be sewing in them into four straight rows.
Sew the triangles together, rotating the triangles in the same way you did when cutting them.
Make sure to sew a straight seam using an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the seam allowance to one side.
The quarter inch seam allowance will create a 1/4 inch space from the point of the triangle, leaving the right space for sewing your rows together without cutting off your triangle points.
quilting triangles sewing
If you are sewing triangles without the points removed, use the same method. Line up the new adjoining triangle matching up the long straight edge of the new triangle with the straight edge of the row. The tip of the new triangle will hang down below the row. Sew a 1/4″ seam and trim the little dog-ear triangle tip.
After your first row is assembled it will look like this.
Press all seams the same direction in each row. You need to press the seam in the right direction before you add the next triangle so that the new seam will hold the previous seam allowance down.
Alternate which direction you press your seams with each row. See above where the first and third rows are pressed to the right and the second and fourth rows the seams are pressed to the left.
Pressing the seams as you sew will help the seams nest and points match up more easily when you sew your rows together.
After rows are sewn together, press rows all the same direction. Trim sides.
Layer block with batting and backing. (Use a piece of muslin for the backing if you are making this into a pillow.) Baste and quilt.
When quilting is done, square up the block. I squared mine to 15″ on all four sides. (Your size might be different based on the size of your triangles, seam allowances, etc.) At this point you can bind for a mini quilt.

To make an envelope pillow, cut two back pieces 10″ x 15″. (If your front is different size than mine, cut your back pieces the length of your block and the width being 2/3 of your front measurement.)

Fold in one long side of each backing piece about 3/4″ twice and stitch in place.

Place backing pieces wrong sides together with the quilt block.

 Over lap the two finished edges and pin in place.
Sew wrong sides together (like a quilt) around the edges using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Cut two 2 1/2″ strips of binding fabric. Sew end to end to create one long strip and bind pillow like you would bind a quilt. I chose to do a machine binding this time.
And that’s it. I’m such a sucker for red and white.

But I also played with this block out of Pat Bravo’s new Rapture collection. It’s always fun to see the look an entirely different palette of fabrics gives to a block.

I’ve made my block into a pillow and added it to my red and white snowflake pillows that I pull out at Christmas. The thing that I love about red and white is that I can leave them out through Valentine’s Day – they’re not just for Christmas.
I also pulled out my favorite Kitschy Christmas Quilt yesterday. That one is made from isosceles triangles and sewn together in the same method. I love how triangles throw in a nice variation on traditional patchwork blocks and they make you look tricky and clever to your friends.

Valentines Projects

I’m starting to pull out the Valentine’s Day decor. I tend to leave a lot of my red and white decorations up after Christmas, including my snowflake pillows because they add some color right Valentine’s Day.  

This year I have a fun new wall hanging to add to my Valentine’s decor – my Love Notes quilt created for the Moda Sweet Celebrationsbook.

Sweet Celebrationsis full of projects for ideas throughout the year. I have a handful of copies of Sweet Celebrations left in my shop. They are on sale for 30% off for the rest of the week and will probably go fast. There is only one left.

I designed this quilt with my own family in mind – creating pockets where valentines or other love notes can be shared. The fabric is from Aneela Hoey’s Walk in the Woods collection. Perfect colors with out being over the top valentines-y.

Some other favorite Valentine projects: A quick – and coordinating – project is this simple Heart throw-pillow. You can find the tutorial here.

This is a tutorial for a quick and simple scrappy 9-patch mini-quilt that I made last year. It would be an easy way to use up red, pink and white scraps for a fast project.

Finally, the Heart Quilt block tutorial I shared this past October. Now it’s finally seasonal!

from Martha Stewart
And one of my all-time favorite Valentine’s decorations/ways to use up old, broken crayons, are these wax hearts from Martha Stewart. So simple and they always turn out so cool!  If you have other favorite Valentine projects, feel free to add them in the comments! It’s so nice to have something colorful and cheery to get through the blah month of January.

Finished Handmade Gifts

I was sewing up until the last possible minute (almost literally) to finish my handmade Christmas gifts this year. Anyone else out there doing that too? But I’m so happy with how they turned out. I really enjoyed making each one and I think the recipients were happy, which is an added bonus. Or at least they faked it really well.

This pillow was made for my Grandma using Art Gallery Fabrics Indie collection and some Art Gallery Pure Elements (solids). Ever since I first saw Indie, I knew I wanted to make something for my Grandma from that collection – the vibrant colors instantly reminded me of her home and eclectic style. I think that it’s pretty awesome. (If I do say so.)

The star is paper-pieced. I made one of these for a quilting bee a month ago, which I was cursing at first, but once I got going, I got more comfortable with the process. And I totally loved the outcome. So I decided to do it again. I’m still not a perfect paper-piecer, but I love how it looks.

You can find the star pattern here.  I added 1″ x 2.5″ strips around the outside. (They are Sukie’s scraps left over from this quilt back. Aren’t they awesome?) The pillow finishes at 16″. Indie fabrics can be found here, and here.

Another pillow for a gift for my brother. As soon as I saw Rashida’s tutorial for this mini quilt, I knew I wanted to make one for my brother. He has been airplane obsessed for as long as I can remember and got his own pilot’s licence a few years ago. I liked making something for him. I went pretty neutral for the background and used Essex linen blend for the plane to give it some texture.

The back is a linen weave decorator weight print that I got at a Hable Construction sample sale a few years ago.
And yes, you can see pins on both of these pillows, waiting to stitch the openings together.  I ended up doing the stitching on our hairy, snowy drive in the car to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. But I knew I had to take the pictures before we left. So there are the pins in all their glory.

And finally, a quick notebook cover for a friend. I used a Melody Miller typewriter (which are pretty scarce these days) appliqued on Cosmo Cricket’s Happy Thoughts print on canvas from the Odds and Ends collection for Moda. (You can find the Happy Thoughts print here and here.) I love all the phrases on that Happy Thoughts print. (And speaking of showtunes, I went to see Les Miz on Wed night and I’ve been singing about Jean Valjean ever since.)

The cover was so slick – I think I need to make a few more. Including one to keep for myself. And maybe one of those star pillows too.

Patchwork Pumpkin

I was recently digging through my sewing wasteland closet in search of batting scraps when I found this little patchwork pumpkin that I had pieced probably 7 or 8 years ago. And I suddenly felt like rescuing it. (I’m sure it helped that it was a Halloween-y time of year when I found it.  I probably would have thrown it back in the pile if I’d found it in January or something.)

And voila – new life for a little patchwork pumpkin – now a throw pillow.  I was so in the mood to just do something with it that I may or may not have resorted to quilting with navy blue thread when I realized I was out of black. But that’s between you and me.

I also made a very quick Harry Potter robe last night using some inexpensive rayon knit and the same method as the Jedi robes last year.  Two seams and it was done. I didn’t even stop to think about hemming any of it. You’d think that because I enjoy sewing so much, I’d love putting Halloween costumes together. But no.  I even swallowed all pride and allowed to provide the Ninja costume this year. Worth every penny.

But I still need to scrounge up a witches hat and a Miss America costume. I swore I’d have everything ready before I went out of town, and here I am the eve of Halloween…ugh. Then I need to try to remember where I hid the candy from the kids before we went out of town.

But in the mean time my pillow looks happy on the couch next to my favorite Halloween quilt.

On a much more important and serious note, sending love and prayers to all those affected by hurricane Sandy.  It’s surreal to see the images coming out of New York. Blessings and godspeed to all those involved in the recovery efforts!