Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rainy Walk and Quilty Talk

We've just come home from our week away in Portland.  One of the highlights of the trip for me is always our trip to the coast.  I've spent about 15 summers on the west coast so for me it's always a little like going home.

I have my little favorites on the Washington and California coasts, but a definite Oregon favorite for me is Cape Meares.  The walk to the beach is just stunning.  It reminds me of some wild areas I've seen in Scotland.

We always see so much wildlife here!

It was in the low 40s and raining, and we basically had the place to ourselves!  We quadruple-dressed for warmth...

...and hiked over the scrubby grasses to the beach.

Except for this massive clump of bull kelp, we were completely alone.

So much rain had saturated the ground that a mudslide happened, right on the main road.

Thankfully we made it back with no difficulties!

It's back to work for me, but I took a few hours last night to tackle paper piecing.  It's a different method of quilting in which you sew on the back of a pre-printed sheet of foundation paper (thinner than printer paper)...not where the design shows, but where the piece will eventually be.  It's a little difficult to wrap your head around at first, but here is an amazing tutorial! 

I printed off my sheet...

...and got to work.  Each time you stitch 2 pieces of fabric together on the back of the sheet, you iron them into place and move on.  You then affix the next pieces and carefully stitch on the lines that you see in the photo above.  It makes incredibly sharp and accurate points.  Here is my finished star!

My stitching was actually nearly perfect, but when it came to stitching together the finished pieces, I was still off a bit.

See?  Irritating, but I just need to be more careful.  Sewing the whole thing together, I'd say I was off by about 1/4" on 2 sides.  A *huge* improvement over my last effort...and look at those straight lines!

Overall, I'm really pleased, although I'm still looking for the right pattern and fabric combination.  I'll keep practicing.

Have a great week! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Poxes on Boxes!

Oh, the Christmas rush!  I don't remember it ever being so busy, with 11-hour days and up to 75 orders to process at a time.  My office is absolutely buried in boxes and littered with faux styrofoam peanuts.

Dirty laundry is piled up, cat hair tumbleweeds are forming in the hallways, and I haven't made it through more than a paragraph of my book at night before falling asleep.  Christmas decorations?  Forget it!  We decided to forgo a tree this year, since we've just been too busy to devote an afternoon to digging out the Christmas decorations.  I'm really pleased that the business is doing so well, but I really need a break!

The mornings have been wonderfully foggy and warm...

...and we've had gorgeous sunsets.

Days are perfect:  sunny, blue skies, and in the 70s.

The leaves are gone, but otherwise, you'd never know that it's mid-December!  The animals do, though.  Birds are everywhere.  A flock of ducks have settled in our little pond.  I love the beautiful iridescent heads of the  mallards.

Our great blue herons have been out hunting more than usual lately.

Oh. the songbirds!  This white-throated song sparrow sang a lovely tune outside my office window today.

A dark-eyed junco keeps a close watch on everything.

The squirrels are incredibly active on these warm days.  They love to chase each other up and down the trunks of trees, and to scold me mercilessly when I come out onto the deck with my camera.

I've had little time to bake, but I made a few cranberry-orange loaves as Christmas gifts for some neighbors. 

The recipe is here and is highly recommended! 

I'll try to get back into a more regular schedule in the new year.  Happy holidays! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Envelope Pillow DIY

Work has been so busy that I haven't really had a free moment to make a post this week, but I did want to put up a tutorial for the pillow I made a couple of weeks ago, aka the pillow that was so quick to make that I was able to get the whole thing done in the time it took Todd to make a run to Lowe's.

The final product:

First, I picked up a .99 pillow at a thrift store.  I put it in the dryer at high heat for about an hour,  washed it, and dried it again at high heat. At that point, I generally consider it "clean," especially since it will be covered with fabric.

Next, I selected my fabric.  I had a few yards of red cotton fabric that perfectly matched a button-up shirt that Todd couldn't wear because the arms weren't long enough.  I cut out a big square from the shirt back and ironed it.

I wanted to make an "envelope pillow," or a pillow with an opening in the back so I could slide the pillow form in and out, either to wash or switch out the cover.  I wanted to red fabric to be the back, so I took a large piece, laid it over my pillow form, and cut a rough shape, making sure the finished piece was several inches longer than the pillow itself.  This shape was then cut in half.  No measurements...basically, you want each half to have an 'overhang' of about 2 inches.  You'll give each of these halves a tidy hem.  One hemmed part will lay over the other hemmed part with enough coverage so that the pillow form can't be seen.

Then you pin the whole thing together and sew all the way around.  Just make sure you have that overlap. 

Turn it right-side out, insert the pillow form, and you're done!  Because I'm partial to buttons on pillows, I used my rotary cutter to slice off the button band from the front of the shirt.  I sewed it onto the pillow front - just one side. The shape of the pillow helps it to lay flat. 

Because I didn't measure, the back has a little wave when empty...

...but it's fine when I put the pillow inside.

It was really quick and easy.  Now that I'm amassing quite a collection of fabric, it will be easy for me to make multiple pillow cases and swap them out with the changing seasons.  Inexpensive, too...I'm sure this pillow didn't cost more than $3 for all materials used!  I can't wait to make more.

Have a great week!