Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Blue December Pillow tutorial

I had the awesome opportunity to team up with Janome and AQS to offer a free pillow tutorial!  You can find the complete instructions and supply list here: Blue December Quilted Pillow Tutorial

This is such a fun and easy project to do to add to the ambiance of the season, and I love the blue and white colors, as opposed to the more traditional red and green.  So if you have some spare time, get sewing and whip up this sweet pillow!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The legacy of my Mamaw

About a month ago, my last living grandparent passed away.  She was 95 years old, and I called her "Mamaw".  

F. Brownfield, 1920-2015

From as far back as I can remember, my Mamaw has been my creative encourager.  She was a painter and loved painting scenes of the Texas Hill Country and most of all, blue bonnets.  She did gorgeous oil paintings, water colors, and acrylics, and even dabbled  in some mixed media.  

Even though my Mamaw was primarily a painter, she was an amazing crafty person and sewist.  She could look at an outfit in a store and draft her own pattern and make something that looked even better.  When I would get to visit her, she would take me to museums and would set me up in her painting and sewing room with art supplies.  It makes me a little sad that I didn't realize what an asset she was to me at the time and that I didn't ask for her to teach me.  I did really enjoy every moment spent with my Mamaw, and I know I didn't take it for granted that I had her in my life.  

She inspired me to take art classes at a young age and had such a determination about life that I only hope I have some of that in me.  

I can only hope that I live to 95.  My Mamaw had an amazing life and traveled and loved and lived well.  Before my Papaw had passed, my Mamaw affectionately called him her "Cutie-cute".  My family and I attended the memorial service last month, and I hadn't prepared myself to start going through her personal things, but that's what had to be done.  It's really weird to think that once your life ends, the pieces left behind are just an echo of yourself--purchases you made, things you planned to finish, books you read...It happened that I am the only person with an interest in sewing/quilting in our family.  As a result, I ended up taking home my Mamaw's sewing machines.  I don't really plan to ever use them, but just having them around me is comforting.  To have items that a loved one used to create things and see them every day is a sweet reminder of what my Mamaw means to me.  I had so many cute little outfits when I was younger that she had made me on those sewing machines.  Even though we had an idea that the end might be in sight for her, it didn't prepare me for the loss I felt when she passed.  I guess having some of these things, along with patterns that her handwriting is on comforts me in a small way.  

I'm not sure that Mamaw ever used this machine a lot...she also had a Necchi and a Kenmore that were probably around 80's models.  I believe this is a 1947 model featherweight, based off of the serial number.  

And then some of the books that she had written in out to the side...you can obviously tell this is totally in style right now ;)

I know that my Mamaw left a huge legacy and I hope that my life has as much meaning as hers does.  The impact she had on so many people and the artwork she created will inspire future generations.  Maybe one day I'll have a daughter (or son) who will have the creative bug and appreciate some of the things she created as much as I do.  My second cousin presented Mamaw's eulogy at the memorial, and described Mamaw as "a tough broad", which couldn't be more true.  From losing both of her parents at a young age, weathering the storm of the great depression, raising a family, going back to school to get her bachelors degree and become a teacher, travelling the world, there were many things she overcame and had a can-do attitude about everything.  She didn't dwell on things that she couldn't change, and she worked to change the things she could.  I feel lucky that she was my grandma, and even though saying goodbye is hard, I know she's in heaven with my Papaw...he's fishing and she's painting up a storm.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A new-ish reverse applique

One of my guilty pleasures is Instagram.  One of the people I follow on Instagram, @orchidowlquilts, posted a photo of some awesome quilting and an astounding mini quilt.  It inspired me to try the technique as well.  If you'd like to give it a try, here are the steps you need to follow:

Supplies you'll need:
Small (super sharp) embroidery scissors
seam ripper
mini quilt (backing, batting, 2-3 layers of top fabric)
Quilting thread
Fray check

Tips and tricks:
-If you cut too closely to the quilting thread, your top fabric may come loose from the quilting.  Try to stay about 1/16" away from the quilting thread.  You may need to go back and quilt again if you clip too closely.  
-Be careful not to slice the final layer of top fabric!!!  If you do, the batting will be exposed (sad panda).  
-I wouldn't recommend this technique if you plan to wash the finished quilt, but it's perfect for a mini quilt that will be a wall hanging or a display piece that won't be handled much.
-There were a couple times that I sliced through the wrong fabric, but fray check is your friend, and you'll be amazed at how well you can hide your mistakes with it!

1.  Choose two or three fabrics (solids work well for this).
2.  Make a quilt sandwich.  For my first time, I made a mini as well.  I think it's good to try this out on a small quilt so you don't get discouraged by the time involved...
3.  You will lay your backing fabric wrong side up, batting on top of that, then one of your solid fabrics on top of the batting (right side facing up).  Smooth to get all the wrinkles out.  
4.  Now you're going to layer another solid fabric on top of the one you just smoothed.  This could be your final piece of fabric, or you could choose to layer one more on top of this.  I would keep it to three fabrics for the top for your first attempt.
5.  Smooth all the top fabric layers to remove wrinkles and baste in place.
6.  Mark the top fabric for quilting if you need to mark, or if you like to wing it like me, get ready to quilt!
7.  Quilt your mini quilt.  I would recommend not quilting too heavily or small for this.  It will make cutting the fabric much easier if the space between your quilting lines is at least an inch.
8.  You can do smaller quilting (like in the picture above), but plan on not cutting those teeny tiny pieces--to keep your sanity.
9.  Once you finish quilting, you should decide which areas you want to cut.  I marked the areas to be cut with a small marking pen that irons away so I wouldn't get confused after the fact.  
10.  You'll need a small pair of embroidery scissors and a seam ripper before you get down and dirty with this!
11.  In the photos, the gray is my top fabric, the green is the middle top fabric, and the blue is the last top fabric.  When you see the green, I am only cutting through the gray fabric.  When you see the blue, I am cutting away both the gray and the green fabric.  
12.  Use a pin or a seam ripper to pull the top layer of fabric away from the next layer of fabric (without grabbing the layer of fabric you want to leave alone.  I use a seam ripper to pull it away and make a small slice so I can get my embroidery scissors in to do the cutting.  You can see in the picture below that some of the gray fabric has been sliced with a seam ripper already.  
13.  Once you have a large enough space to get your embroidery scissors, start clipping the top fabric away.  
14.  Put on your favorite Netflix shows and clip, clip, clip.  Then clip some more!  

15.  When you finish clipping fabric away, go back with fray check and outline all the cuts you made with it to keep the fraying in check!  Allow to dry completely, then you're ready to put your binding on and call it a day (or week)!

I really love how mine turned out, but I would definitely make the quilting spaces a little larger and less dense on the next go-round.  This is not your typical reverse applique, but it is a fun spin on an oldie.  Give it a try and see what you can do!