Gifts Received

Crocheted cowl neck scarf

In this last post to wrap up the Christmas season, I wanted to share some of the crafty gifts that were received by me and my family members over the holiday. First, although this wasn’t part of my official Christmas present from my sister Brenda, she did make this cowl scarf for me. Before Christmas, Brenda was trying to learn to crochet on her own by watching YouTube videos. At Christmas, she watched me crochet the first row (always the trickiest) and practiced making a coaster. By the beginning of January, she was whipping up scarves like this! Amazing! And even more amazing, this matches every piece of clothing I own.

Sew Steady

Greg gave me a Sew Steady extension for my sewing machine. The Sew Steady extends the surface of the machine throat and makes machine quilting much easier. Or that’s the plan anyway—I’m trying it out for the first time this weekend and can’t wait.

Fabric and Wonder Clips

Mom gave me a goodie box of sewing stuff for Christmas. You know how some people just can’t take apart a jelly roll because it’s so pretty? Not me. I couldn’t wait to dig into this thing. I’ve pulled out all the greens and blues for the quilt I’m working on now, and I know I’ll find a good home for all the rest of the colors, too. The Wonder Clips are a notion I’ve been meaning to try a while; they should be great for holding together the layers of my next sewn handbag and for holding down the folded binding on a quilt.

Emma Quilt Book

And Christmas is the perfect time to share crafty gifts with the next generation, too. Mom got Emma a quilt book and a walking foot. (Emma’s brother Jacob, in the background, is holding up a watch and iPhone speaker. He’s also wearing the footie jammy suit Greg and I gave him.)

Stella and Emma

It does an aunt’s heart good to see these two cousins crafting together. Stella made Emma a bracelet from the beading kit she received, and Emma is busy coloring with the markers and coloring book she received. I love knowing the craft genes will carry on with these two girls.

I hope your Christmas was a crafty one, too!

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Scrabble-Inspired Mug Rug

Scrabble Mug Rug and Board

I knew I wanted to make Mom a mug rug for Christmas. I thought about making a circle of geese pattern for her or maybe the same star pattern I made for my sister Brenda last year. But neither idea was really coming together. Then at the December Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting, during a break, someone several rows ahead of me held up her smart phone, and on it was a Scrabble board (or what I thought was a Scrabble board, anyway). From that distance, I saw the pattern of the board, rather than just the squares. And it looked pretty cool.

Mom and I have played Scrabble together since I was in high school at least, maybe even middle school. When I lived with Mom and Dad, it was our go-to game, and whenever I’d come home, after I moved away, we’d manage to fit in at least one game. And now that she’s on Facebook, we can play one game after another, so there’s always one going on. (And man, have our games gotten tight! They always come down to the last few words played.)

After that CMQG meeting, I pulled down one of the boards at my house and took a look (yes, Greg and I each entered our union with our own Scrabble game). I decided to go pretty literal with my interpretation and re-create the top quarter of the board in fabric.

Scrabble Mug Rug WIP

I hit my stash and found fabrics to represent each of the squares on the board. I had the perfect fabric for the brown squares but not quite enough of it, so I ended up using two fabrics for those squares. I cut each square to 2 inches, and I decided to press open the seams, since I couldn’t image Mom putting too much wear and tear on the finished mug rug.

Scrabble Mug Rug

There’s a thin white strip between each square on the board, and I tried putting strips of fabric between my squares, but it was too overwhelming. So I went a more subtle route with a zigzag stitch of white thread that also served as the quilting on the piece. The board I remember playing on had a maroon border, but a deep red was all I had in my stash. I forgot to take a photo of the back, but on it I used a light brown fabric with a subtle wood grain—it really looked like the backs of the wooden tiles!

Mom and Scrabble Mug Rug

Mom opened her gift on Christmas Eve, and she said she could tell right away what it was. Whew.

Scrabble Memory Art

While I was home, I took a photo of the other Scrabble-inspired gift I gave to Mom. I made this at least 10 years ago, if not more. The background is an image transfer of a photo of Mom as a child with her mother and sister. In the foreground is her Mom and Dad; and I spelled out her family name in the Scrabble tiles.

Bird Ornaments

Birds hangingBack in October when I was convalescing, my wonderful and thoughtful mom sent me a package of quilting magazines. I rarely buy magazines myself, so to have a whole stack to go through was pretty awesome. One of the magazines she sent was Quilts Arts Gifts 2013-2014. In it, I found the perfect small project to get me back on my sewing feet.

Wool Felt Ornament spread

The article was “Wool Felt Bird Ornaments” by Melony Miller Bradley. I loved the scribbled stitching on the birds, the stamped sentiments, and the overall mixed-media look.

Emma bird ornament

While I used Melony’s template for the bird bodies, my construction and finished look differed from hers. I skipped adding a flower to the bottom of each bird, and instead of gluing, I sewed on the ribbon, wing, beak and bead eye.

Girl bird ornaments

Instead of stamping a whole sentiment on the wings, I made the wings smaller and stamped the name of each member of my family.

Boy bird ornaments

And instead of using all wool felt, I mixed it up a bit and made some with wool fabric. Finally, instead of using simple organza ribbon for the hangers, I decided to splurge on some Renaissance ribbon from Sewn Studio (and then supplemented with ribbon from my own stash).

I made one bird for each member of my family—15 in all—and brought them up to Wisconsin for Christmas. Since Greg and I were the first ones at Mom and Dad’s house, I thought it would be fun to have them out for when everyone else arrived. So Greg, being the wonderful husband that he is, hung them all from the light fixture and shelf in the dining room.

Birds hanging

My thought was that everyone would cut down their bird as they went back home, but the birds looked so nice as a flock that everyone just left them hanging. Mom already has a bird tree planned for next year, where all the ornaments will be birds, including these little guys.

These ornaments made great little gifts and gift tags, too. I ended up making several more for the holiday season, stamping “Joy” on some and names on others. I purchased the wool felt from Maureen Cracknell’s Etsy shop (she has a ton of great colors) and most of the wool fabric from Lavender Street.

Christmas Quilt Pile

Quilt pile 1We’ve got temperatures well below zero here in Cincinnati today, so I thought it would be a good time to share some cozy photos from our Christmas in Wisconsin. It was pretty darn cold there at the time, and as I was sitting in Mom and Dad’s living room, I decided to count the number of quilts I could see. There were nine. Within eye-sight of that one room.

What would it be like, I wondered, to have all the quilts we could find in the house on top of a person? “Cover me up!,” said Greg as he hit the living room floor. Adam and Emma quickly joined in.

Quilt pile 2

The rules of the game were that I could pull only the quilts that were sitting out, not ones on the wall (which eliminated one from the living room) and not in storage in a closet or the pie safe. And the quilts all had to be made by Mom.

Quilt pile cross section

We ended up with 18 quilts piled on top of Greg and Emma (Adam bugged out after 15 when I announced that anyone under the quilts needed to help fold them when we were done). Greg declared it to be “eight pounds of coziness.”

We learned that Mom favors a cotton batting, although a few quilts had thicker polyester batting; the heaviest quilt is made of denim. We also learned that once you have 18 quilts piled on top of you, you can barely feel someone walking on you (regardless if the person doing the walking is 10 or 44).