Friday, September 15, 2017

Ice Cream Koozie and Gift Bags

Hi all -

No big accomplishments to share with you yet, so I thought I'd share some little things that I've made. A while ago I ran across a blog that described how to make an Ice Cream Koozie. What a wonderful idea! I like to eat Ben & Jerry's ice cream (a little too much!), but I hate holding onto the cold carton. I've always just wrapped the carton in a dish towel while eating the ice cream (because who likes to use a bowl????), so when I saw this blog I knew I had to make one for myself.

I think I made mine mostly like the directions describe, but I'm not sure since I really mostly just looked at the pictures and made it my own way. One change I did make was to add a layer of a extra firm sew-in stabilizer (Pellon 926) in the middle. I thought that would keep the koozie from flopping around and would add some extra insulation for my fingers. I think it was a good decision. I really like the stiffness it provides. I can still feel some of the cold through the koozie, but it works great. I also decided to round the corners because I thought the square corners would get in the way and rounded corners are easier to turn. I meant to add the elastic a little bit above the middle of that edge, which I thought was so obvious that I didn't think much as I did it, so, of course, I ended up putting the elastic a little bet below the center of that side. Oh well, it still works! Here it is going for its first test drive:

The other thing I've made since my last post were several Christmas gift bags. I try to make reusable gift bags for all of my gifts now, but they can take a while to make so I'm happy to get a start on my Christmas bags.

These are all of the gifts that I have so far so I'm completely caught up. Hopefully, I'll be disciplined enough to make new bags for each gift I get or make so I won't be rushing at the end! If you're interested, I wrote a blog post last year describing how I make these bags.

Well, that's all I've completed lately. I'm in the middle of knitting a little beaded scarf, so hopefully I'll be able to share that project soon.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Kaffe Kite Runner -- Quilting Part 1

Hi all -

I've started quilting on my Kaffe Kite Runner table runner. For me, deciding on the quilting design is always the hardest part. To help with this, I recently got an iPad Pro (in the beautiful rose-gold finish, of course!) and bought the Graphic app. This app is a drawing app much like Photoshop. I can take a picture of the quilt and then pull it into Graphic and draw different quilting designs until I get something I like. It has layers like Photoshop so I can put different parts of the quilting on different layers and turn them off and on to decide what I like. Time will tell whether this helps or it ends up being a time sink where I just keep trying things and can never make up my mind!

Before doing anything else on this table runner, I did my usual stitch-in-the-ditch quilting with invisible thread on all of the seams between the patterned fabric and the solid to stabilize everything. Then I did a basting stitch around the perimeter to stabilize that edge. The basting stitch holds the edge in place, but is easy to remove if I find that I have some bubbles in the fabric that I need to push to the outside of the quilt.

Then I used my iPad and Graphic app to design the first part of the quilting. I concentrated on the main solid areas and chose a quilting design that I decided to quilt using big stitch hand quilting. The first step was to draw the quilting lines on the quilt using water-soluable marker:

Then it was just a matter of doing the quilting one stitch at a time:

This is my first project using big stitch quilting that wasn't a class project just to try the technique. I used a size 5 pearl cotton and started with a John James size 22 chenille needle. I was having a lot of trouble getting the needle through the quilt in some places and was having a lot of hand pain from squeezing the needle like a vise to try to get it through. So I got out a needle grabber (a little piece of rubber like the old jar openers we used to have in the kitchen) and that helped a lot! I still had some trouble getting the needle through the quilt in some places, but with the grabber it was then a cinch to pull the thread through. I had gotten some new needle grabbers that fit over your finger tips so you don't have to keep picking it up, but when I tried those they didn't grab the needle enough so I was having to apply too much pressure with my thumb and was back to the hand pain so I went back to the old-fashioned needle grabber. I also tried a couple of different needles to see if I could find one that would go through the sandwich easier. First I tried a John James size 24 chenille needle, thinking that the smaller needle would pierce the fabric easier, but it didn't make a big enough hole so it was harder to pull the thread through. Then I tried a Sullivan's size 20 chenille needle and that worked a lot better for me. It was still hard to pierce the fabric in some places, but it was better than the first needle and I had an easier time making sure that the stitch went all the way through to the back with that needle.

Then it was just a matter of stitching and stitching until I finished all of the main motifs. I soaked the table runner to get out the blue marker so I could see what it looked like before continuing on. Here's the full table runner:

And a detail shot:

Next, I'm planning on doing some machine quilting to go along with the hand quilting and I've taken pictures of what I have so far on my iPad so I can start figuring out what will go in the other areas. This is how I generally work with the quilting. Decide on a piece, do it, then decide on the next piece. This works well for a lot of things and keeps me from getting completely stalled on my projects, but I do need to do more stepping back and trying to design over the whole quilt some times so that I can try to create more secondary designs and quilting that enhances the entire quilt rather than small areas of the quilt. But I think this method is working just fine for this piece.