Thursday, July 21, 2016

Memorial Christmas Stockings, Plus Tutorial

Welcome Blog-hoppers!  I'm Alla and I love whimsy, creative design, and all things new and shiny and fabricky.  I hope you enjoy your stop here.

Not new or shiny: this quilt has known love!
I'd like to invite you on a journey of rebirth: taking beloved items and making them into Christmas stockings.  There are two options here, maybe they will give you ideas...

From this

To this

From this

To this

Option A: using an embroidered sweatshirt as the stocking front

Option B: using a vintage quilt as the stocking front

The basic method is similar for each option.  Sarah asked if I could make a tutorial for these, so that's what I will share.

But first, a little bit of love to the women who are memorialized by these stockings.

Angel in reverse
The sweatshirt was among my stepmother's clothes--a slightly-dated Christopher & Banks design that was definitely her signature look.  As I was the one to clean out her closet after she died in January, I took the opportunity to remove a couple items of clothing, hoping I could turn them into mementos at some later date.  The 12 Days of Christmas in July Blog Hop turned out to be perfect timing for me.  The angel stocking will go to my step-brother, her only son.  It turned out so well; I am super pleased!

The vintage quilt was among my mother's possessions that I inherited.  The stash included four vintage quilt tops and one completed quilt.  The completed quilt is the one I used here, and it has seen a lot of love.  It was our "couch quilt" when I was growing up, and was adored by three growing children and one cantankerous dachshund.  I'm not 100% sure who stitched it--maybe my great-grandmother?  Anyway, I had my siblings' permission to cut it up and try to reuse it somehow.  Even so, I needed steadying before I made the initial cut (there were phone calls and a bit of hand-holding involved).  I need to make two more stockings now: I'm sure each of my siblings deserves their own.

My inspiration for actually trying to reuse this vintage quilt came from the book
Recycled Hexie Quilts: Using Vintage Hexagons in Today's Quilts by Mary Kerr.  She gives hints on techniques as well as projects.

On with the Tutorial!

Materials and Equipment

Sweatshirt, including bottom band*
1/3 yard (or 1 fat quarter, FQ) cotton quilting fabric for stocking back
1/3 yard cotton quilting fabric for stocking lining
1/3 yard fusible fleece
1/3 yard fusible light/medium weight interfacing

Basic sewing supplies
Clover Wonder Clips, or other pins or clips to hold bulky fabrics when sewing
Walking foot (optional, for multiple layer sewing with no fabric shifting)

Pattern for stocking: I traced a commercial stocking and added 3/8" seam allowance
If you don't have a pleasing stocking to copy, you might try and reproduce mine by checking out the 1" grid from my cutting mat.  Or there are free stocking patterns available online, such as from Craftsy


1. Cut the bottom band off the sweatshirt and set aside for a cuff
2. Cut one stocking front from the sweatshirt fabric, paying attention to placement of any design
3. Cut one stocking back; make sure to reverse the pattern from the stocking front
4. Fold the lining fabric right sides together and cut two stocking linings
5. Cut and fuse the fleece to the back side of the sweatshirt
6. Cut and fuse the interfacing to the stocking back piece
7. Cut a 2" by 6" rectangle from leftover fabric (either stocking back or lining, your choice); this will make the hanging loop


1.  If desired, embellish the heel and toe area of the sweatshirt prior to assembly.  (My version has a fused applique heel that matches the stocking back, and two rows of hand embroidery along the toe line.)

2.  Make the hanging loop by folding the 2" by 6" strip in half lengthwise, then folding each side in toward the center.  Press.  This makes a strip 1/2" wide.  Topstitch along both long edges.

3.  Place all four stocking pieces together, in the order shown: both lining pieces, right sides together; sweatshirt/stocking front, facing up; stocking back, facing down.

4.  Fold hanging loop in half and place along seam allowance between the two lining layers, 1/2" below the top. Secure all the layers together with Wonder Clips or other clips or pins; sew along the sides and foot with a 3/8" seam, backstitching to secure at both ends.

5.  Clip curves along the seam, notching the outward curves and cutting toward but not through the seam on the inward curve.

6.  Turn stocking right side out, gently pushing all the curves out.

7.  Make a cuff: measure the width of the top of your stocking, double this and add 1/2".  Cut one layer of the sweatshirt bottom band 3-1/2" tall by the width you need (e.g. my stocking was 7-1/2", so I doubled this to 15" and added 1/2" = 15-1/2").  Cut a second rectangle, 3-1/4" by the same width.  Sew these two rectangles together along the long edge in a 1/4" seam.  Make a loop by sewing the short edges together in a 1/4" seam.  Turn the cuff so that wrong sides are together and raw edges even; press.

8.  Place the cuff, sweatshirt ribbing side out, inside the stocking.  Align all raw edges, use clips or pins to secure, and sew all layers together in a 1/4" seam.  Be careful to keep hanging loop out of the way of this stitching.  Finish seam with a row of zigzag stitches, if desired.

9.  Fold cuff toward the outside of the stocking.  Press as desired.

10.  Admire your work!

Many thanks to Sarah for hosting this blog hop!  I am so happy to be in such amazing company, and I'm busy planning some August stitching with the designs I am seeing from my fellow sewists.

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

July 14th:     Sharon Vrooman @ Vrooman’s Quilts
                    Carole Carter @ From My Caroline Home

July 15th:    Yanicka Hachez @ Finding Myself As An Artist
                   Chris Dodsley @ made by ChrissieD

July 16th:     Marsha Hodgkins @ Quilter in Motion
                    Leanne Parsons  @ Devoted Quilter

July 17th:     Tonia Conner @ All Thingz Sewn
                    Selina @ Selina Quilts

July 18th:     Lara Buccella @ Buzzin Bumble
                    Soma Acharya @ Whims and Fancies

July 19th:     Joanne Harris@ Quilts by Joanne
                    Suzy Webster @ Adventurous Applique and Quilting

July 20th:     Vicki in MN @ Vicki’s Crafts and Quilting
                    Jennifer Fulton @ The Inquiring Quilter

July 21st:     Michele Kuhns @ Crayon Box Quilt Studio
                    Jan Ochterbeck @ The Colorful Fabriholic

July 22nd:     Alla Blanca @ Rainbows. Bunnies. Cupcakes.
                     Zenia Rene @ A Quilted Passion

July 23rd:     Joanne Hubbard @ Everyone Deserves a Quilt
                    Paige Alexander @ Quilted Blooms

July 24th:     Carolyn Jones @ …by CJ
                    Tisha Nagel @ Quilty Therapy

July 25th:     Susan Arnold @ Quilt Fabrication
                    Beth Sellers @ Cooking Up Quilts
                    Linda Pearl @ One Quilting Circle

Monday, July 18, 2016

Where You Need to Be

A soothing note for the journey of life.

Artwork of Susan O'Malley, a beautiful artistic soul.

The only other place you might need to be?  Visiting the daily inspiration of the 12 Days of Christmas in July blog hop.

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

I'm getting my daily dose of Christmas-y goodness from my fellow blog-hoppers.  Plus, Sarah is running a Quilt Along that has me sorely tempted--only an hour a day and I could have a full-size quilt in just 12 days!

My Christmas reveal is coming later this week.  See you then

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Circles BOM: first look

My inspiration fabric
Oh, Boy: it's time to start advertising for a new Block of the Month!

Theme for this BOM, which starts the first-Saturday-after-labor-day, is CIRCLES.

I have about eight circle ideas so far--out of 12 months, that's not a bad start.  I really want to explore a lot of different techniques, and I have found so many ideas in the blogosphere.

I love learning new techniques!

Here are the samples I have made up to advertise the BOM, along with the inspiration/tutorial that got me started

Not a circle, you say?  But this is clearly the place to start: if one is afraid of curved seams there are circle-like things that can be done using only straight lines.  In fact, there will be many months in this BOM of no curved seams, to honor those fears; then we will push past them.

Instructions for this particular log-cabin came from Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework.  Bonus points for the fact that she uses scraps, as this tutorial is part of her Scrap-A-Palooza series.  Her finished quilt using this block can be found here.

Mmm, I love this technique: reverse applique!  Again, no curved piecing: a little freezer paper and glue stick make this one work.  I previously tried this technique at a retreat, as part of Block Challenge, and knew it would become part of my Circles BOM.

The freezer-paper-assist technique was shared by Barbara at Cat Patches after she learned it in a class, and she is very clear with her tutorial.  I am so thankful to all the bloggers out there who write good directions!

Finally, a slew of Orange Peel blocks.  Many of the circle techniques I am investigating look best when repeated.  This block definitely falls into that category; I love to see a sea of orange peels stretching across a quilt top.

I saw this technique in person done by my friend Joey at a retreat and just thought it was so clever: make little football shapes by stitching the focal fabric to a fusible lightweight interfacing, then carefully turning the whole assembly outside-in so that all the raw edges are encased. 

You then fuse the sucker onto your background fabric and stitch a decorative edge.  This was my first use of the blanket stitch on my new-to-me fancy sewing machine.  I would previously have just used a narrow zigzag stitch, and it would have been fine.

Free template for this block, in multiple sizes, along with a clearly written tutorial for the turn & fuse method is from the SewCanShe blog.

Well, those are the blocks on display in the shop, tempting people to start signing up.  We start circling our wagons in September.  Let me know if you have a favorite circle block or technique that I might add to the mix!

Do you like my fabric choices?  After black-and-white BOM this past year, I agonized over choosing a colorway...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Fabriholic: More is more

I have a confession to make: I bought fabric.

Kinda a lot of fabric, actually.

I think I should just come clean and declare it all here, and then make yet another a vigorous pledge to not buy fabric for the rest of 2016.

I knew I had been on a bit of an untethered acquisition mission lately.  I had been stashing my purchases hither and yon--hiding them even from myself, it seems.  But then this happened

June 19-25 Weight Watchers focus
Yup, even Weight Watchers conspired to tell me to clean up my act.  And then Sweetie, who moonlights as the Tidy Fairy at our house, encouraged me to tackle the clutter on display in some parts of my sewing room.  Starting with the flat surface that is supposed to be the guest bed.

It was painful, but I am pleased with the results.  "Current" projects [How does one distinguish between WIP and UFO?  Do you have a method for categorizing?] are now stored in the drawers below the guest bed.  Older projects are punted back to the basement.

And in the process, all this fabric came to light.

FQ overload!!!
All these fat quarters were bought in 2016.  (Hmm, looks like 6 yards to me; ouch.)

This is what 39 yards looks like--Gah!
And all this yardage has walked in the door.  Not all of it purchased, but every inch of it acquired this year.

Drat!  Because, you see, I already have enough.  In fact, if you consider my sewing output, I really have too much.  I'm in no danger of using up my stash--especially at the rate I keep adding to the booty.

we're outta here!
It is with great pleasure, then, that I present the Going Away Pile.  Far from perfect.  Far from complete (in terms of ruthlessly going thru the fabric monstrosity).  But it is a start!

Do you have a stash to die for?  What keeps it under control?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Christmas in July anyone?

It's July!  Already?!  Am I the only one who said, "Wow!" to this flip of the calendar?

Much busy sewing is happening this month, for various outside purposes.  The one that's got me most excited?  A blog hop: sharing ideas for Christmas sewing projects.

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

I will be one of the participants, so I'm getting going on my super-secret sewing right away.  No spoilers, but here's a picture to set the mood

Is this style dated?  Didn't think so...
Check back for the big reveal after July 14th.  There are 25 participants to this blog hop, so there will be lots of inspiration to get you in a holiday mood, with plenty of time to actually get some handmade Christmas sewn this year.

And if anyone reading this has Christmas-y things they have blogged about in the past, I'd love to come visit! 

I leave you with a previous Christmas-in-July blog hop post from 2013: made a new outfit for a fancy Santa.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Guild Block + new technique

Haven't been to quilt guild since April.  And, to be honest, I'm not really attending this month either; but I am stopping by to leave my block.  Which I just finished today.

This block is called Wild Waves.  The instructions can be found at Quilter's Cache.  The block finishes at 12" and is made up of sixteen identical 3" blocks.

So, since each square within the block is the same, why not use speed piecing techniques?  Not something I have tried before, but I love learning new things!  Here's an overview of the technique.  More details, including cutting information, available at the Quilter's Cache link.

Put one square of the black and one square of the white right sides together.  Draw in both diagonal lines.  (I secure everything with pins; I know some people don't.)

Stitch 1/4" from one of the diagonal lines--just to the place where the drawn lines cross.  Then pivot and stitch on the drawn line until you are 1/4" away on the other side.

Pivot again and continue stitching to the opposite corner.

Use the same stitch-pivot-stitch along the other diagonal.

Cut the black/white block apart along the drawn lines.

This creates four identical units; each is a two-tone HST.  Press each seam toward the black portion.

Two of these units will combine with one medium-value b/w square to make two finished blocks.

The basic building block.

I kinda see a curling ribbon effect in this block.  Wonder if a single row from the block would make a good border or sashing...

My good deed for the week.  What have you been up to?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Stitch-in-the-ditch foot = Magic!

I finished a wallhanging for the shop this week.  Wanna see it?  Of course you do!

Coffee Rocks! an adaptation by me
It's a bit ironic, actually, because I don't drink coffee.  So I thought I might explain the genesis of this piece.

Here is our shop's entry for 2016 Row by Row Experience, which starts June 21.  Each year Row by Row has a theme; this year's theme is Home Sweet Home.  Our block is titled "Earth Rocks!" and it was designed by shop employee Janet McDonald.  Being in Berkeley, California, we often conceive of home in a more global, earth-embracing way.  Plus, being in the Bay Area, we live on a major earthquake fault zone.  Thus, the fractured Earth nature of the block.

Look at those steam-y swirls!

I saw the fabrics that Janet had used in her sample--swirling Stonehenge patterns from Artisan Spirit--and thought of swirling fabrics I had in my stash

Specifically, fabrics from the Have a Latte line, that I used in making a coffee-themed wallhanging when I participated in a latte blog hop in 2015.  (See?  Precedence for sewing items that declare my secret nonexistent love of coffee.)

 Janet's pattern was for a 9" tall row; but the four individual blocks could be joined into a circle.  A circle?  Yes!  An entire planet of coffee beans and steamy swirls: how else to show off the Love of Java that these fabrics and this pattern evokes?

Embroidery anyone?

FMQ coffee cup
A little embroidery embellishment, a little quilting: big stitch (love me some Finca Perle cotton #8), straight-line-with-walking-foot, and the tiniest FMQ scribbles in the center.

And something new for me: MF&B!
MF&B is the shorthand we use at the shop when a customer wants to use our quilting services to attach binding to their quilt and finish it by machine, rather than handstitching (machine front and back).  Can't believe that I had never bound a quilt this way: always, always I have blindstitched by hand.  (Or had Ginger-the-Binding-Angel or Linda-the-Marvelous-Mama do it for me.)

And to help me with this MF&B adventure?  A stitch-in-the-ditch sewing machine foot!  What IS that, you say?  Why, a feat of modern engineering that will absolutely change my life.

Behold, the extra piece of metal nestled up against the binding seam, right where it attaches to the quilt top.  And the needle follows that piece of metal so very smoothly; the stitching becomes lost in the ditch where the two fabrics come together.  Invisible from the quilt front.  Magic, I tell you!

Okay, so I've never stitched down my binding by machine before.  Like, ever.  Even the nobody cares what it looks like bindings on all the Sew Together Bags I have made.  (Even Oakie's luggage bag.)  But this is a game-changer.  You can bet that this sewing machine foot and I will be making beautiful music together many times in the future.

Are there sewing machine accessories you can't live without?  Brag to me about your fave!

I haven't linked up a finished project in awhile.  Might as well show off a bit with TGIFF and Can I get a Whoop Whoop?

Stash report: used 1/2 yard of coffee-themed fabrics from my stash for the front & back; the background fabric on the front was a new purchase (but it was from the sale table!)