Quilting The Star Throw

I am so excited that I can finally share this awesome quilt on my blog! My husband doesn’t frequent my blog, but I just knew that I would share it before Christmas and then he would get on and see it. That would kill my element of surprise! He had no idea I was making a quilt for him and I worked on it in secret for at least 2 months, if not longer.

Superhero Quilt before binding

Here it is before binding…I wish the picture really showed how imperfect and weird a blanket looks at this step in the process.

This project has a free pattern on Craftsy. Here’s my pin for it if you want to see the original or download the pattern for yourself. The creator of this project made hers baby sized, but my husband is 6’3″ and baby just wasn’t going to do it. I figured out how many squares needed to make it the right size for him, and left the star exactly the same. Well, almost the same, but I will get to that in a minute.

I hoarded and cut super hero fabric and shades of blue for this quilt for what felt like an eternity. My husband loves blue, and red white and blue just seemed to fit the super hero theme. I also threw in some yellow because yellow is MY favorite color. I’m selfish like that. Or, maybe I just want him to think of me when he sees it.

When I got to the star, I wanted to do something special, so I cut out a huge print of the Avengers and appliqued it over the star. It was super finicky with all these weird edges, but it turned out awesome. I’m just amazed it actually worked. I also really did a dumb thing and waited until the quilt was all the way put together to applique that thing on. Don’t ever do this unless you want to sweat, fight with your machine, and worry that you will either break something on your machine or give up on your applique. Applique goes on after piecing the star. I will never wait again.

Star Applique on superhero quilt

I put a really warm red fleece backing on it. I always back my quilts in 100% cotton, but I wanted this blanket to be really cozy. It is now the most coveted blanket in the house. I think it was a good call. I put red binding on it, and it really brought it all together nicely.

Superhero quilt back with fleece

I used really basic quilting lines…I quilted through the diagonal on the squares and worked my way around the star. My backing is not perfect, but it is good enough.

With Binding on...finished! Superhero quilt

It was a very easy, super basic pattern to follow, and great practice for matching points on those squares. I always, always pin at each intersection to get a perfect match. If I don’t, it is so ugly. The star really makes the whole thing great. I hope you enjoyed peeking at my latest quilt, and I will surely have more to come. I am having so much fun on my machine!

My Joy-Filled Life

 

*This post originally appeared on BlogHer January of 2015.*

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DIY Steering Wheel Cover

One of the projects on my Christmas sewing list this year was a steering wheel cover for my husband. I have a really hard time finding gifts that I can make for him. I don’t know if it’s just that I have my mind set on little kid stuff all the time, or that men are just really hard to sew for. Anyway, the original tutorial I found was here if you want to check it out. Honestly, I was very disappointed in the tutorial because there weren’t really specific directions in it. For a simple project, it took me a lot of time just getting the pattern right.

steering wheel cover DIY Tutorial

I chose a Superman print fabric because I had it on hand, and my husband just happens to love Superman, win-win. I won’t tell you how crazy girly my “other” steering wheel cover is,  let’s just say that this is way more his style. We drive a big van, but unless you have a teeny tiny steering wheel, this should fit your vehicle as well. In fact, I’ve never seen multiple sizes at any store, so I imagine most steering wheels are similar in size. If you want to make one of your own, I am going to walk you through the steps. It is super easy and a fun, quick project for the man in your life, or for yourself!

Cut your fabric 52.5″ long and 5″ wide. In order to achieve 52.5″, I actually had to sew two pieces of fabric together. Depending on your print and which way you can cut your fabric, you may have to do the same. If you do, just make sure you put a nice seam in there that won’t fray as this seam will be subjected to friction. I use the overlock stitch on my machine.

sewing DIY Steering wheel cover tutorial

This is actually a little overkill but I like things to look nice. I did the overlock stitch and then a row of straight stitches to keep the seam flat. This also helps when you are feeding through the elastic. It sucks to get stuck on a seam. Trust me on this one.

DIY steering wheel cover tutorial

Once you have one long strip of fabric the right size, you stitch the two elastic casings in.  You just have to make sure that the casing is big enough to hold your elastic and that it is consistent and even. You can do this by measuring and pinning, or wing it if you have done this sort of thing before. I have sewn a lot of elastic casings for skirts. I kind of hate this step actually, now that I think about it.

If you have a similar foot on your machine, you can make your casing as follows: Face your fabric right side down on the sewing machine and fold the casing over. You are now looking at the right side of the fabric on the edge. Line up the left edge of the fabric with the left edge of the presser foot and the right edge of the fabric with the right edge of the presser foot. Set the needle to the far left setting and feed the fabric through evenly and slowly. Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam. See the picture above.

DIY steering wheel cover tutorial elastic

Using 1/4″ elastic, cut two pieces each 43″ long. Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic and feed it through the casing on one side, then the other. As soon as I was done feeding it through, I ran a quick seam across it to hold it in place. You could also just pin it; no matter what you do, don’t let it suck back into the casing or you will be hating life as you re-feed the elastic through a second time. Don’t ask me how I know this.

DIY steering wheel cover tutorial

See the green thread tacking the elastic into place? That’s what I’m talking about.

When you are finished, you can put the right sides together (short ends of the fabric) and sew another secure seam (overlock or whatever you prefer.) This is a 1/2″ or slightly larger seam allowance. If you make it too tiny, it won’t hold well.

And now you are done! Sweetness!

It really is a project that takes less than an hour. I had to go back and forth a bunch of times to the car to measure, take pictures, and check the fit; it still took me less than one hour to complete. It is a very basic cover though, and it may fray on the inside where your casing stitches are unless you do something to prevent that. I don’t really mind but if you like to pick at stuff, you may just want to use a different method. You can use fray check on the edges, use an overlock stitch, or use a zigzag stitch on the whole thing if you want. I didn’t.

Anyway, my husband loved it, and when he opened it he even knew what it was. I wasn’t sure it was going to be immediately apparent as it kind of just looks like a bunched up piece of fabric when it’s not on a steering wheel.

*This post originally appeared on BlogHer December of 2014. This steering wheel cover endured abuse for a year before being put to rest. If I were to make it again, I’d add a layer of interfacing for durability. My husband got many compliments on it, and I think it’s been one of his favorite gifts from me.*

Ohio Star Table Runner Part 2

I finished the free motion quilting on the Ohio Star table runner I have been working on. I had a field day with all that white space! Here’s some pictures of my quilty-goodness to hopefully inspire your next quilting project.

freemotion quilting

I made these fun daisies in the squares. I used a green variegated thread that I bought to make my sister’s quilt a couple of years ago. I hated it for script quilting, but I love it in this table runner. You can see the design quite well, which is what I struggled with on my last quilt. The light green is very light. It doesn’t always show up well.

freemotion quilting

I did this vine and leaf pattern along the top and bottom borders. Being a crazy lady, I decided to not plan and just “see what happened.” While I don’t recommend that, it worked out well for me this time. You really don’t have to plan, mark, and use templates to quilt. You can, but you don’t always have to in order to get good results.

freemotion quilting

Here’s the finished runner minus the binding. I do not love the pattern I used on the sides, but it works.  Overall, especially if you don’t nitpick it up close, I think it will make a lovely addition to our home. It seems weird to finish a quilting project in such a short amount of time after all the big projects I’ve been working on. It’s kind of nice, actually.

thread

And what post would be complete without an up-close view of how I take my thread to the wire. That is what was left over when I was finished. Cutting it a bit close, you might say. I’m glad I had enough to finish. Free motion quilting can take so much thread!

What are you working on this week? If you have a sweet quilting project in the works, link to it below. I love checking out others’ quilting goodness!

*This post originally appeared on BlogHer January of 2015.*

Ohio Star Table Runner

It’s a new year, so I need a new quilt to work on! I’ve been looking over patterns trying to decide what my next new challenge will be.  The runners-up are: Ohio star, lone star, and Irish chain. I decided to make a small project with the Ohio star to see how well it pieced and if I wanted to make a lot of them or not.

I decided to go with a table runner. because it meant a few squares and a chance to practice my free motion quilting. I’m quite happy with the results.

I decided to go with white borders because I knew it would look crisp and clean. I have 4 small children, so it may not last long. We will see. I’m hoping we can take extra-good care of it! Here is the table runner laid out on my sewing machine.

It’s not perfect, but I love the colors together.

ohio star quilt

Another shot at those wide, white borders. I’m going to have to do something gorgeous in them! They are about 5″ wide.

I don’t think I’m ready to make a whole quilt with this pattern, but I am pretty excited to finish this small project up and decide on a pattern for my next big quilt.  When I have photos of the quilting, I will put them up here. I love sweet little projects like this that make your home feel cozy.

Candle in the Night
*This post originally appeared on BlogHer January of 2015.*

Sewing Tip: Keeping Track of Multiple Pieces

I love to sew. As a mom of toddlers with a destructive cat in tow, you might wonder how I get any sewing done at all. Sometimes, I wonder that myself. I have been asked how I keep track of my projects when it is inevitable I will be pulled away mid-project to change a diaper, make a snack, or regulate a fight (I am raising boys!).

Here is one way I keep track of my pattern pieces and fabric while I am away.

Purse Pattern sewing

I am working on this purse right now. While I cannot recommend this pattern to anyone who has not made tons of purses before because it was a struggle to get through, it is a great example as it uses five different fabrics. That’s a lot of fabric to keep track of.

Fox fabric for purse

I picked up these coordinating fabrics from the quilt show in Phoenix last month. I about died when I saw these foxes in bow ties and spectacles. Red, aqua, and foxes?! I’m in!

Supplies for fabric flags

Here’s what you need: pins, duct tape (mine is awesome purple, but use whatever you have), and a Sharpie.

Fabric flags

Fold your tape over each pin to make a sweet flag at the top and Sharpie a number on each one. These little guys are going to help you keep track of which fabric is which. That way, when you walk away, you can come back and pick up right where you left off.

Purse fabric sorted

Here are my fabrics flagged and ready to go. Once I cut my patterns out, I will move my flags over to the cut pieces. This eliminates me re-checking the instruction sheet a ton of times too.

Foxes

Here’s another picture of this adorable fox. I just had to.

Finished Purse

Here’s the finished product. I am simply in love. I can never make too many purses. I hope you enjoy this little tip to make your sewing projects run smoother. In this pattern, I had five fabrics to keep track of, in my next there will be fourteen to keep straight. My flags will surely come in handy. You can also use (A,B,C or 11,15,17) any labels that fit the pattern you are using. Patterns are labeled in all sorts of ways. Happy sewing!

My Joy-Filled Life

**This was originally posted on BlogHer.com 2/10/2015. **

Seeing Beyond the Mess

I found the cutest bag pattern a week or so ago, and I knew I had to make it. What better way to procrastinate on my novel than by taking on a sewing project? To date, I’ve now made 5 of them. In April. When I’m supposed to be working hard on my novel. I also sewed a dress, made repairs on a skirt and a super hero cape, and worked on a quilt, but who’s counting?

The pattern is here if you want to make one. It’s by So-Sew Easy and is FREE! There is a video that really helped me visualize it the first time, especially if you aren’t super comfortable sewing zippers. It takes about 30 minutes to make, so you can easily squeeze in a project at nap time. I love tiny, adorable projects like this because I feel like I got something accomplished when I’m done and it didn’t take me forever.

My sewing time is my quiet time, my prayer time (I know, be still...but I’m not excellent at being still. Quiet is about as good as it gets, most days), my time to reflect and plan. While I was sewing up my 3rd bag, I kept thinking about how much I loved sewing. There’s something so amazing about working on something from the inside diligently even though you don’t know what it’s going to look like when it’s done. This bag was an exceptional example of this, as you work on it inside out, flip it and it’s still inside out, finish sewing it, and then there is a final reveal.

The bag "guts": inside out

All the mess that’s on the inside, you’d never know it was there unless you made it. Everyone else gets to see the pretty outside but they never know what went into making it. They will never see how many times you had to attempt something before it finally clicked. They will never notice the tiny imperfections on the inside that you wish were perfect. All they see is the final product.

 

I kept thinking there was something to that.

What it looks like after the first ‘flip’. Still not perfect.

I had a particularly hard time with one bag that had a metal zipper that my sewing machine didn’t like. I’d sewn two others just like it, but that one fought me tooth and nail. I sewed one seam so many times that I lost count. When I finally walked away from it, it looked like this:

Lots and lots of strings!

What a mess.

I couldn’t help but think: this is me. I’m a mess. I’m in the thick of it, and all I can see is piles of laundry, dirty floors, footprints on my walls (no, that’s not a typo!) and the things I am failing at. The negative things that people say echo in my mind. A mess. I’m drowning in it.

The good news is: God can see past the mess. He knows what the finished product will look like, even when I barely have the faith to believe that it exists. Even on a sewing project that I created with my own hands, I am still amazed when I turn it right side out and it looks… good. I hope and pray that my big finished project, my life, will end the same. I want to look back and say, “I did good. I did what I was supposed to do, and I kept trying, I never gave up on doing what what was right, and I am pleased with my choices.

Fox Mini Zipper Bag

There’s something about sewing time… or maybe it’s just when God knows He can reach me because I’m not focused on so many things all at once. Either way, I am grateful for it.

When does God speak to you? Do you have a hard time seeing through the mess: failures, pending work, attitudes, behavior you don’t know to handle, spouse disagreements and fights? God’s bigger than all of that, if we can allow Him to handle it.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

The big reveal:

Mini Zipper Bag

**This blog was originally published on BlogHer 4/21/2015.**

Reasons Why Mommy Needs Her Quiet Time #3

Happy Wednesday! I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of crafter.  The problem is, I often “wing it” and run into snags.  This week mommy needs her quiet time because: Continue reading