Quilts for Kids

OK - so last week sometime, I said I would post pics tomorrow.... well, this is tomorrow in "Angie time"...LOL!!

My latest project has been two quilts that I finished for "Quilts for Kids" - a group that is giving hand-made quilts to kids who are hospitalized with chronic diseases.  When we first received the package of quilts for our group, I tried to pick out a girl-friendly theme since I'm pretty much stuck with boy quilts at this point.  Alas, however, there were no pinks and princesses to be found.  So, the first one I picked was as gender neutral as possible... bugs!  Now, before you go "ewwww,"  these are friendly, cute little bugs.  And the colors were nice and bright.  There are even a couple of ladybugs.  :)  The other kit I picked was airplanes...a natural for me.  Tanner loves airplanes, so I finished this one in his honor. 

The kits came with pre-cut fabric and backing, so all we had to supply was the batting (the cotton in-between the layers) and the thread.  Oh, and the time...LOL!  The fabric was sent in pre-cut strips, which made the blocks super quick to cut out and piece together.

I finished the bugs quilt first.  It was a cute blue and green jungle-print four patch block alternating with a solid yellow bugs block.  The inner border was green and the outer border was the same bug print, but with a black background.  I have to admit I wasn't crazy about the black, but c'est la vie!

The actual quilting was pretty easy, though tedious.  It was just a straight stitch on the bias going from corner-to-corner on each of the squares.  The kit instructions specifically asked for a lot of quilting, so I stitched the lines at a little less than two inches apart.  (The extra quilting was requested so that the quilts would stand up to frequent hospital washings.)

The backing for the bugs quilt (which I named "Bed Bugs") was a pale yellow batik and we were instructed to bind the quilt using the backing (more on that in a minute).

The second quilt kit I picked out featured bright, primary colors and airplanes.  We ended up naming this one "Just a Plane Quilt".  The colors for this one - a red and yellow four-patch and a blue background fabric with multicolored airplanes - seemed to flow a bit better than the bug quilt.  Like the other, it was easy to cut, piece, and sew and I used the same quilting for this one as the other.

The backing for Plane Quilt was a light, almost sky, blue with purple-ish diamonds.  Like the other quilt, the backing was also part of the binding.  I had never tried this type of quilt binding before, and I've never liked that method since learning to hand-stitch binding.  While I had machine-bound my first two quilts, I had not done so by using the backing.  The instructions also specifically asked for machine binding, so I complied.

To make the binding, the quilt sandwich (the top, batting, and backing) was pinned as usual, leaving about two inches of the backing free.  Once quilted, I trimmed the batting with scissors (I would normally use my rotary cutter) in order to not cut the backing.  Then I went in with my rotary cutter and trimmed the backing to a one-inch trim.  At that point, I folded the backing edge almost to the batting/quilt-top edge, then folded again and pinned it down like there was no tomorrow.  I guess I could have ironed it, but at this point, I was ready to be finished!

Once pinned, I fed the quilt though my machine, being carefully to take out pins before they hit the needle.  I've heard many, many ladies say that they have broken needles by hitting pins, and I just don't want to have to deal with that...LOL!

Now, I can't say this is my favorite way to bind a quilt, because I am still partial to the hand-stitching method.  However, this did give me the opportunity to use some decorative stitches that came on my machine.  Claire had brought one of her quilts in and showed me that she used a button-stitch, so that is where I got the idea.  For the bugs, I used what looked like a fancy cross-stitch pattern and for the planes, I used a diagonal stitch.  It was really pretty!   I also used a variegated thread on the plane quilt.  I happened to have it in my thread box and the colors matched perfectly.  I think it really added some character.

I also ended up with a few good scraps for my stash.  When I make my first scrappy quilt, these will be part of it.  A fun story to tell people when they see it.  

The quilts have been sent off now, so the next step is for me to log on to their website and register.  Once I do that, the recipient can also log on and look for my quilt.  Of course, this part is totally optional, but I think I will do it.  It will be nice to see where these quilts end up.  :)


rekindled fire

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I had been working on a rejuvenated hobby.  I'm still a little nervous about posting on it - for fear of it fizzling like everything else - but I'm pretty excited about my last two projects.
About 2 or 3 years ago, I went out and purchased a sewing machine so I could sew patches on Tanner's Cub Scout uniform.  Yes, I kid you not, that was the reason.  I did a diligent search on the internet to find a good brand and what I kept finding in forums and comment fields was "buy from a specialty store," with the thought being that if you have trouble with a machine you buy at Wal-Mart, who is going to help you?  I thought it was a great point, so I headed out to the nearest sewing store.
Once there, the ladies at Sewingly Yours were so friendly and so helpful, I bought a machine that very day.  I also got a listing of their classes.  Afterall, if I'm spending several hundred dollars on a good machine, I might as well learn how to do as much as I can with it, right?  That's when I found my first quilting class.

Because the class was several weeks away - and because once I have an idea, I have a hard time letting go - I found an online tutorial on quilting and started.  It was a good tutorial, but I produced one u-g-l-y quilt...LOL!  In fact, I've only recently shown anyone this quilt.  The first quilt I actually finished, though, was a Christmas quilt for my best friend, which wasn't nearly as, um... unsightly.  
After those two quilts, I took a six-week class and learned more about choosing fabric, piecing tips, batting choices, and binding.   I can't tell you how much I learned from this class.  Because it was early spring, I had decided to make a quilt for my mom during that class, and it turned out just stunning (even if I do say so myself!).  It was a ribbon star quilt, and looked something like this diagram on the right from Quilter's Cache.  I used a dark navy floral print with a spring green contrast and cream background.  One day, I need to get an actual picture of it.

After that, I tried paper piecing and various other projects.  Somehow, though, I managed to stall out and stop.  I think it may have been because my machine was in the basement, which is not really a fun place to hang out, especially when the family is always on the main floor.  Not sure. Regardless, though, I've had several unfinished projects laying around for quite some time.  Including a blanket I had started for Tanner (more on that one in another post).

This spring, though, I have found my re-inspiration!  My friend Claire at my church has wanted to start a Prayer Quilt ministry for some time.  She kept running into roadblocks until one day it dawned on her... you can't have a quilt ministry without quilters.  So, she put up signs and started a quilt class at church.  We have about 15-20 ladies coming regularly and it has absolutely relighted my fire!

About a month ago, during one of the classes, Claire brought a charity to our attention.  It is called Quilts for Kids and she wanted to know if anyone would be interested.  Basically, people contact the charity and they will send out free fabric kits and instructions to make a basic quilt that is then sent back to them and given to a child with a chronic disease.  All the quilter has to do is supply the batting and make the quilt.  To say the least, the idea struck a chord with me, and I volunteered to do two quilts.  Annnnnnnnnd... I'm happy to say I finished them!!  I'll have pictures and stuff up tomorrow! :)



It's strawberry season around here and, I must admit, I've never been the biggest fan of just plain ol' strawberries.  I like desserts made with them and like strawberry-flavored things, but have never been much on the actual berries themselves. 

This year,  my mom took the boys strawberry picking. They didn't do much of the work, however.  Something about spiders... gotta have a talk with those boys.

Being the good daughter that I am... and being that I've apparently been bitten by some kind of "Suzy Homemaker" bug, I decided that I should make Strawberry Jam.  Now - with all that said earlier about not liking strawberries, I absolutely LOVE strawberry jam.  And to think of having my own supply.... ohhhhhhhhhhh... happy day!

I had decided to take the easy route and try the "freezer jam" method.  After sufficiently smashing the berries I added the sugar - an insane amount of sugar - and let them juice up.  Add pectin and lemon juice and viola...jam!  

Ok... so, not exactly jam... but the syrup that eventually will form jam.  I ladled the yummy goodness into little 8 oz. jars and sealed them up.  They have to sit now for 24 hours, then they go into the freezer. 

Tanner and I were both pretty bummed that we had to wait 24 hours.  He asked me at least three times on Friday when the jam would be ready.  I guess he inherited my sweet tooth.

Because we had quite a bit of berries leftover, I capped and washed the ripe ones and froze them for future strawberry smoothie concoctions and what else?...

Strawberry Shortcake!!  :)

Happy Summer!!



We had a couple of strangers stop by the house today....
 They were nice guys... didn't say much.  Only asked for some water.  Talked about their travels and the weather.  The small one kept saying how we had a great restaurant.

We gave them their water and let them rest a bit.  We also gave them the number for our dentist...

...then we went and hid the washable markers.