Sunday, June 18, 2017

Three Easy Pieces: Artistic Potholders from Scraps

I love making potholders.  They're:
  • Low-pressure;  
  • Relaxing, especially between larger projects; 
  • An opportunity to experiment with new techniques;
  • An opportunity to get fabrics out of your stash and into the world;
  • And the result is something you can give as a gift! (Christmas/Chanukah: Six months away!) 
If your friends recognize them as brilliant art, that's great, and if they use them on greasy pots, that's great, too! (Okay, not quite as great.)

Potholder 1 - Solid Scraps 
Directions: Take a bunch of solid scraps; stitch them together. Quilt using your relatively new Handi-Quilter mini scallop ruler, just for practice. (Quilting with rulers is like learning to juggle, and requires infinite practice.)
Fill with two layers of batting (or one layer of regular cotton batting, and one layer of thermal batting, like Insul-Bright.)  For backing, shop your stash until you find a fragment of home decor fabric that you never used because it was awkwardly cut: 
When giftees ask why you put the pears in such an unusual position, pretend you did it on purpose and explain asymmetry. 

Potholder 2 - Kaffe's Kitchen
Directions:  Scour your stash or Internet to locate fragments of stunning giant vegetable fabric from Kaffe Fassett and his co-conspirators at This fabric was always (1) too nice to cut into, and (2) so distinctive that it takes over any project, and (3) Giant turnips? Cut it in large chunks, and combine with other fabrics if necessary. 
On the back, plop down another piece from the Fassett collective that's been in the stash for too many years.
I accidentally installed it upside-down. (I did that on purpose! Because, uh, asymmetry?)

 Potholder 3 - Fruit & Cupcake Salad

Directions: Locate all your fruit fabrics, cut them into rectangles, and sew them into a trapezoidal top. If you don't have enough fruit fabrics, feel free to add vegetables (brussel sprouts, hot peppers), carbs (bread, pasta, pretzels, a fortune cookie), fats (avocados) and dairy (ice cream).  This piece is so almost-healthy on the front that you can use something like this on the back:
 Mmmmm good! What kind of potholders do you like to make?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Stuffed Pomegranate Recipe, High Fiber (Don't Eat Them)

Have you ever looked at a large-scale fabric and been tempted to cut out and stuff one of the motifs? That's what happened to me when I first saw this fabric.
It was designed by Alex Anderson for RJR Fabrics. For the last two posts, (1, 2), as part of a Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework challenge, I've been playing with a yard of it.

The pomegranates are so juicy - 3 1/2" high by about 2 1/2" wide - that I had an overwhelming urge to stuff them!

So I did.

 I needed gifts for the guild's convention in May, so I made a bunch: 

I cut them out just slightly beyond their borders; sewed them wrong sides together against navy or scrap fabric; left a gap at the top; then turned them right-sides-out. Stuffed 'em, stuck an embroidered ribbon loop in the opening, hand-stitched the opening shut, and sewed a vintage red plastic button on top.

Added gold ball chain through the loops, and a gold safety pin, just in case. That makes them multipurpose! Key chains/luggage markers/pincushions!? Fluffy pendants? Beadable!? If I put a bell and some catnip in them, they could be a cat toy!?

I cut a sixth one a little bigger, to incorporate foliage. Poked in extra polyester stuffing, and hand-quilted around the fruit, so it popped forward.
Scraps on the back: 
Next, as special gifts for two of our many guild members who deserve medals - I made medals! 
(The base is stiff fusible interfacing, Peltex 72F in this case.) 

Even after these projects, plus my earlier 2 stars and 3 hexagonal mats, I still had about a quarter yard of my yard left....More to come! 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

More English Paper Piecing Hexie Adventures with Pomegranate Fabric

Last week, I showed you the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework's latest creative challenge: To make a project using one yard of this gorgeous print from Alex Anderson's "Mirage" Collection, generously donated to the Guild by RJR Fabrics:
That post had a tutorial for making kaleidoscopic stars using English Paper Piecing (EPP). After finishing those, I made the following. 
They're also English Paper Pieced, of course. It dawned on me that the main motif on the fabric would fit a traditional grandmother's flower garden quilt block. I figured out how big the shape would have to be and drafted it in my computer program (CorelDraw). 
I cut one copy out as a solid piece (from an old file folder). 
And cut a window: 
I traced the outside of the window to freezer paper and cut that out. 
 The window helped me figure out where to cut.
Slipped that away, put in the freezer paper, and ironed it down. Trimmed the fabric about a half-inch outside the paper edges, all the way around.
Treated this like needle-turn applique. I clipped into the concave curves to 1/8" from each inner angle.
Dripped fray-check on the innies. 
Pressed and glue sticked the seam allowance on top of the freezer paper. Two or 3 threads of the fabric should roll to the back.
 Glued all the way around.
In the same computer program, I made a sheet with as many component-sized hexagons as I could fit. (The component size turned out to be 2.586". Argh! If you're working with the same fabric, you can  get away with 2.5" or 2.75".)

Printed that out onto cardstock. For three blocks, I needed 12 x 3 = 36 cardstock templates. Here's how many fit on an 8.5" x 11" piece of cardstock.

Cut those apart, then glue-basted solid fabrics onto them. Back:
Now to stitch those guys around the motif. Some are attached  on only one side; and some are attached on two sides, like the lighter orange piece in the picture below. EPP makes these kind of y-seams easy.  I sewed the first seam in place (above and parallel to the white arrow drawn in the picture below...
(The arrow is pointing at the actual needle taking the penultimate stitch). Took an extra stitch at the center. Then realigned. Below, the second side is being moved into position so its right upper edge lines up with the underlying dark edge. 
Stitched them together, open it up, and there it is, neat as can be, attached on two sides! The next hexagon will be attached on only one edge, and the hexagon after that will be attached with a y seam again.
Now that I have three of these, I can't decide whether to finish them separately, and gift them as festive wallhangings/ potholders?  Or stitch all three together to make one holiday table runner? (Maybe with some dark blue hexagons in the spaces in-between?) Your vote counts! 

Interested in learning more about Judaic needlework, including quilting, embroidery, needlepoint, knitting and beyond? Check out the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework's webpage here. To learn more about Alex Anderson's Mirage collection, scroll to the bottom of my previous post, here