Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Stockings Are Hung . . . .

. . . . not by this fireplace -- I just wanted to make sure they hung properly before I delivered them to the triplets yesterday!  This has been my "make" for the past week (along with a couple pairs of tiny little socks).
I asked my daughter-in-law in November if I could make the triplets Christmas stockings just as she was getting ready to ask me if I would!  Happy coincidence.  Her Mom passed away several years ago and was also a crafty woman, so I asked if there were any fabrics from her stash that I could incorporate.  It was fun to blend our fabrics together!!

I pieced the fronts using fabric from both our stashes using a pattern traced off my kids' stockings.  The first front went slowly as I figured out the configuration needed to get a large enough piece of patchwork for the stocking.
Sew some together, lay it on the pattern, add some more diamonds here and there. 
The second and third pieces went much faster with no decisions to make, just repeat the first one! 
The assembly of the sections revolved around inserting the fussy cut hexagons with a creature! 
The first step was finished and it was time to figure out the construction of the stocking.
I didn't quilt this patchwork but if I did, I would use the thinnest batting I could find or perhaps pre-washed flannel. 
I got to use the embroider feature of my Bernina 180 -- I've had it for almost 20 years and we get along well as long as I can find the manual!  I used a cotton pique from the other grandma's stash to create the cuffs -- it has good body so the embroidery worked well.
To be sure the names were centered on the cuffs, I used a huge piece for the embroidery step and then cut the cuffs in two pieces (back and front) so I could center the name perfectly.
Here are all my parts ready for the final assembly.  
Notice that I added the green polka dot for the undercuff.  It's also the lining, a little pocket on the backside (a whim?), and the hanger loop.  It came from the other grandma's fabric as well as the plaid corduroy for the back. 
NOTICE that the back stocking piece is reversed -- must do that!
I felt a bit tentative about the final assembly since I was winging it without a pattern so I spent some time watching several You-tube videos about "making a patchwork stocking".  
I probably should have done that first but I did a couple things differently so I'll share those ideas with you.  

To begin, I cut the cuff pieces 1/4" wider than the top of the stocking so it will be slightly larger and will lay smoother.  I stitched the side seams of the cuff pieces with 1/4" seams and the side seams of the lining pieces with 5/16" seams to make two rings.  Taking a slightly deeper seam on the lining helps it lay smoothly inside the cuff because it's just slightly smaller.
 I pressed the seams of both open. 
The cuff lining is inserted inside the cuff with right sides together, pinned along the lower edge and stitched all the way around with a 1/4" seam along the lower edge with the lining inside.  
Once the lining is pulled out of the cuff, pressing the seam flat towards the lining makes it easier to crease the edge when the lining is folded to the inside. 
Once the lining is pulled to the inside of the cuff and the lower edge pressed, it could be edge stitched by hand along the fold with a contrasting floss or by machine with a decorative stitch.
The cuff is ready!
As the videos instructed, I stitched the pieced front and the backing together, right sides facing, with a 1/4" seam.
I clipped the curves of the heel, toe, and the instep to get a smoother curve before turning the stocking right side out and steaming the edges.
When I stitched the two lining pieces together I left a 4" opening along the straightest side for turning and used this tip from a stuffed-object-maker friend -- stitch off at an angle (as below) on both sides of any opening to make it easier to turn the seam allowance inwards after everything is right side out.

I also use a different seam allowance for the lining!  I begin the seam allowance depth at 5/16" at the top of the stocking and taper into 3/8" within the upper 2" of the stocking.  Then I continue at 3/8" all the way around and then as taper back to 5/16" within 2" of the opposite end.  This is a trick I learned from tailoring classes many years ago to make the lining slightly smaller so it lays more smoothly inside the stocking.  This is especially helpful if batting is used in the stocking.
(I do the same thing on pouches and totebags!)
No picture, but I used 1 1/2" by 8" strips of the lining material to make the hanging loops.
Press the strip in half lengthwise, then fold each raw edge into the fold and press.
Fold again and edge stitch along the open edge.

Slip the cuff over the top of the stocking matching the side seams. 
 Pin in place and baste around the top edge.
Fold the hanger strip in half and pin the raw ends to top edge at the side seam  with the loop laying down along the cuff. 
It was easiest just to fold back the foot of the stocking before pushing it down into the lining - there's no need to push it all the way in and get it flat because it's just going to come back out.
Insert the outside stocking with the cuff and hanging loop attached into the lining which is still wrong side out.
Align the raw edges of the lining and the stocking.  Stitch with 1/4" seam -- it's a good idea to stitch over the section where the loop is attached a couple times to reinforce it.  
(Don't want that loop to come out when the stocking is loaded with goodies!!) 
Now pull the stocking out through the hole in the side of the lining.
Make sure everything is attached and secure. 
Final step is to close up the opening in the lining.
Then push the lining down into the stocking and make sure it is smooth.
Press around the top edge and it's finished!! 
Preston's middle name is Fox (family name) so when I spotted the red fox on a Lewis and Irene Christmas print from last year, I had to fussy cut it and add it to the patchwork. 
What we do for one, we have to do for all!!
The kids' personalities are beginning to emerge and the snowy owl in the print reminds me of Payton.
She has a serene countenance already and I think she'll be a quiet girl but strong.
Parker is bright and promises to be a busy, cheerful person much like a squirrel.  
Almost done with my Christmas making -- 2 socks left to knit!!
Working hard not to get any more clever ideas!!
How about you?
Next it will be time to clean up the studio and get ready for 2020 making!!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Last Minute Maker

Are you a last-minute-maker?  I am!!
It's funny how old habits die hard.  For the 26 years I owned a quilt shop, I always did 75% of my Christmas gift making during the month of December.  It was a slow retail month for me and I just relaxed and did lots of stitching at the shop to fill the quiet time.
(I say 75% because it was rare that everything was finished so the other 25% happened after Christmas.)

Here I am, 15 years later in full retirement and I still wait until December to swing into full production.  I make most of the gifts I give -- I like sharing my skills with my family and friends (plus after so many years working retail, I don't enjoy shopping very much).
Now that many of my friends and family read my blog (thank you for your support) and follow me on Instagram, I have to keep lots of things under wrap.
So I've been quiet for several weeks.

There's lots of this going on -- socks of every size and color!
Yesterday I gifted these pouches and so now I can share them.
 I'm delighted with the results and I've used up a handful of little orphan blocks!!
During one of my studio tidy ups this year, I designated a basket to store all the little piecing samples from my teaching days -- one of this and two of that -- pieces I couldn't throw away but didn't want to use for a big involved project (I have enough of those!).

When I decided to make zip-pouches for the gals who loyally join me several times a month to turn cast-off projects into finished quilts which we donate to various groups, the first place I looked for inspiration was the orphan basket!  

These are the pieces I pulled -- an assortment of teaching samples and fails.
This is the pattern I used -- it includes four sizes and I've found the small one is a perfect "notions pouch" for my knitting and stitching tools so they don't get lost in the bottom of large totes.
It's a downloadable PDF pattern with excellent instructions and I've used it many times.
I will admit this isn't my favorite type of sewing so doing a batch is a good strategy.
I break down the production into daily goals to prevent boredom and frustration.
Gathering up all the supplies before I start is important, too!

Over a period of three days, I picked out coordinating fabrics and zippers and did all the cutting needed for the pouches.  I sometimes buy a bulk assortment of zippers on Etsy -- check out these possibilities -- so after I sift through those I fill in the colors and sizes I need locally.
I have also learned to keep a stock of several fusible interfacings and fusible fleece.  Many pouch/tote designers mention specific products for these in their patterns -- something that saves lots of time when shopping and also gives better results than sorting it out myself and I appreciate that!!

When these little clips first came out, I thought -- seriously???
Cute, but necessary? 
Now I'm saying, where have these been for the past 50 years???
I love working with them and find them so much easier to use for steps like inserting zippers!
One of the cool tricks designers use are these tabs on the end of zippers.
I like them as a design feature but I have also learned I can use them to adapt a shorter zipper to a space -- just have to remember to modify the designer's cutting specifications. 
One of the advantages of making several of something at the same time is that after the first one is finished, I can "chain-piece" through some of the steps and speed up the process as below -- adding zipper tabs and stitching the inner pocket to the lining.
As I've used my own pouches, I've discovered that a strong contrast of color between the lining and the pocket makes it so much easier to see what's inside a pouch and keep things organized.
Plus it makes me smile to look down in there! 
This is the "front" of the pouches -- you can see I had fun choosing the fabrics and zipper colors but where are all those orphan blocks??
Always thrilled to #sewmystash !!!
The fun is on the "back"!
These pentagon EPP flowers were for a class that didn't happen.
I often see these flowers appliqued to borders of quilts and it always looks like so much fun to create!  Question now is "have I worked this impulse out of my system"? 
Or is there a quilt in my future with a border of appliqued pentagon flowers?
This mini-Dresden plate is a sample to show how small (and easy) it is to create this tiny gem with Marti Michell's Mini Dresden set (I was an educator for Marti).
The six-point star was too small so it didn't work with the other 25 blocks I made in a follow along a couple years ago.   I remade the block in the same fabrics and the right size, but couldn't just pitch this one.  Now it's in a happy home! 
These three were fabric palette samples I made to use when teaching and selling my Mississippi Mud pattern back in my show vending days!  I sized them way down from the pattern measurements and while I don't need them anymore, throwing them away was impossible! 
There's still one more pouch cut out and ready to stitch up but I don't need it until next week.
In the meantime - I've been whipping out these little Bridget's Bagettes (Atkinson Designs).
They make cute little gift card holders which can be re-purposed as a happy little pouch.
Once again, I cut several at a time and have them stacked next to my machine for an easy 20 minute stitching break from whatever I don't want to do!?!
The stitching continues -- this week it's Christmas stockings for this crew!!
Fun, fun, fun!!
Back to the knitting needles -- still have 3 socks to make!!