Gift Post #5: Cardholders

We give small and/or handmade family gifts to DH’s siblings (5 of them) and his cousins (5 on one side, 1 on the other side) plus small gifts to a few hangers-on who attend our Christmas Eve celebration. This year DH and I made cardholders. Just so you don’t have to do the math, I made about 14 cardholders.

Original Card Holder
Original Card Holder

DH’s mom has a cardholder in the shape of a Santa (oddly shaped, but Santa nonetheless) that I have long admired. She bought it from a door to door salesman in the 1950s or 1960s. She may have told me the name of the company, but I don’t remember. I have wanted to replicate it for a long time and decided that this year would be the year of the cardholders. I also quickly decided that I was not going to make the cardholders in the shape of a Santa.

Original Card Holder - detail
Original Card Holder - detail

I searched the web to get some ideas and found very few ideas online. Apparently, this is not a popular gift. I did find a few, but no free patterns that I liked.

What I find were ideas for shapes. I decided that a long rectangle with a pointy bottom would be easiest to sew and look the best.

DH and I sat down with the measurements of felt (72″ wide) and an idea of what I could sew in a reasonable amount of time. He did most of the heavy math lifting while I stuck to the practicalities of sewing.

Once we had the dimensions down I set about cutting and figuring out the sewing process as I wanted to do as much assembly line sewing as I could.

Testing Ribbon Trims
Testing Ribbon Trims

I have a can full of various odds and ends of ribbon. I use that ribbon when I make gift bags. Some of the saved ribbon is too short for gift bags so I got it out to test trimming the pockets. Above is some really interesting French gold ribbon that I sewed on to a pocket. I liked it, but thought it was a bit wide.

I have several rolls of 1/4″ ribbon in red and green that I got when I cleaned out my Aunt’s craft room after she died. Since I have a lot of it, I used quite a bit to trim various pockets, even though I thought it was a bit thin. The best size turned out to be 7/8″ ribbon, which DH got when I sent him to the store to get some silver ribbon.

Assembly Line Pocket Trimming
Assembly Line Pocket Trimming

I got the assembly line figured out eventually. Above it looks like I am just putting a bunch of pockets on a line of ribbon and sewing. Actually, I cut the pieces of ribbon, wrapped them around the pockets. This enabled me to sew through two layers of ribbon and one layer of felt to anchor the ribbon and keep it from fraying a bit. As soon as I was done sewing one, I would put the next pocket very close to the one exiting the presser foot and keep sewing.

Figuring out color schemes
Figuring out color schemes

You know my rule is to “make visual decisions visually”, so we laid out all the cut pieces and rearranged them until we were happy with the color combinations. After this step, I got down to being serious about trimming the pockets.

Measuring pockets
Measuring pockets

Once all of the pockets were trimmed, I sewed the sleeve and then pinned them to the back, measuring down from the sleeve’s seam line (above).

Cardholder: pinned & ready to sew
Cardholder: pinned & ready to sew

The pockets required more thinking to sew on. I ended up pinning as many as I had cut and trimmed and then sewing like colors on. First I sewed all the red pockets. That left some cardholders with white and green pockets only trimmed and pinned. Once I completed all the red pockets, I changed thread and worked on green, then white. This method prevented me from having to change thread (to match a pocket color) every 5 minutes.

One evening I was home alone, so I took all the cardholders down to the TV and embellished them with buttons, sequins and beads. It was nice to do a little handwork and get away from the machine for a couple of hours. I also think it gave them a bit of a one-of-a-kind look.

Little did I know that DH was surfing the web and had embellishment ideas of his own! He found patterns/templates for some stars, ornaments, mittens and holly.  Again, I hauled all of the cardholders downstairs and we figured out what would go where.

Holly Embellishment
Holly Embellishment

It was very clear that the red buttons I sewed on a whim would make excellent holly berries. I would have liked to put some kind of spine or shading on the holly leaves, but ran out of time to figure that element out. These are some of the cardholders we made.

First Completed Cardholder
First Completed Cardholder

This is the first completed cardholder. We gave it to our friends, Eric and Yar, when we went to their Christmas party at the beginning of the month. They also invite us over for dinner every year and we have yet to reciprocate. Now that the dining room is painted, I think the time has come.

This was is more plain than the later versions. I should call it subdued!

Hanger detail
Hanger detail

We are using some Lucite rods, that didn’t work as quilt hangers, to hang the cardholders. They look nice, were easy to cut, did not need finishing other than a bit of sanding and work very well.

2 Mittens & a Star
2 Mittens & a Star
2 Stars, Mittens & Holly
2 Stars, Mittens & Holly

I had to pay attention to what color embellishments went on which color of pocket or background. If I didn’t, the embellishments wouldn’t show up. This war particularly tricky for the mittens, because of the white cuff. I tried some other colors, but they didn’t look right. This is why the embellishments ended up on the two middle pockets on the card holder on the right, above.

Holly & Gold Ribbon
Holly & Gold Ribbon

The gold ribbon in the card holder on the right, above, had a papery feeling. I didn’t like the feel of it after I put it on. I had to chalk it up to experience, though, as those were some of the first pockets I embellished and was still in the learning process.

Embellishments

Ribbon trim
Ribbon trim
Stars
Stars
Mittens
Mittens
Gold Sequins
Gold Sequins
Buttons & thick ribbon
Buttons & thick ribbon

I also made one with a winter theme, rather than red and green, for a family that celebrates both Christmas and Hannukah.

Winter theme with Holly
Winter theme with Holly

Here are the two winter themed card holders I made with one of the holly versions. I had fun embellishing the blue and white with silver beads, sequins and pearls.

Winter beading - large detail
Winter beading - large detail

The beading does help keep the embellishments on as well.

Winter theme - detail, small
Winter theme - detail, small

I thought the turquoise snowflake added a bit of shading or interest to the Winter card holders.

One of the good things about making many of a project is that you know how to make it well. I would say that I am a master card holder maker now, if there is such a thing!

Gift Post #4: Journal Cover #3

Julie's Journal Cover - full
Julie's Journal Cover - full

Here is the journal cover I made for Julie. It is a companion to the pencil roll I made for her birthday. This is actually the third journal cover I have made and this one went together the fastest and looks the best. My only problem was putting it together backwards, so the tree I wanted on the front ended up on the back.

Julie's Journal Cover - front
Julie's Journal Cover - front

No matter. I tried to think of it as a design challenge after my initial disappointment. I fussy cut a tree out of the small piece of fabric I had and raw edge appliqued it to the front. I thought that Julie could handle the raw edge stitching.

Julie's Journal Cover - in process
Julie's Journal Cover - in process

The main green fabric is an old Marrimeko print, as I may have mentioned. The directions I used are a combination of the pattern from Allpeoplequilt.com, the directions on the Exuberent color site (they don’t print well) and my own trial and error and notes from previous journal covers. I use the Miquelrius journals, so those are the journals I bought and for which I made covers. Hope all of the recipients like them!

Gift Post #3: Sweet Harmony Bag

I love my sister dearly, but she is hard to shop for. She buys what she wants, so I always have to think early and creatively. I found this Basic Grey fabric and just knew I had to use it for a gift for sissy. She is an invertate scrapbooker and LOVES Basic Grey paper. It started the whole thought process, actually.

Sweet Harmony - Full
Sweet Harmony - Full

On my week away, TFQ tempted me with doing a joint Sweet Harmony Bag by Amy Butler. My idea was that we would each make one at the same time. However, it turned out that we worked together on one bag.

This is probably the last time I will make an Amy Butler pattern.  I purposefully did not write the review right away, because I wanted to give the shock time to wear off and give the piece a fair hearing.

While the finished product turned out really well, the directions were overly complicated and the pattern promoted extreme wastefulness.

Here are some tips  and things to be aware of when making this pattern:

  1. Trace the pattern pieces on tracing paper and keep the originals all together on the pattern sheets.
  2. Trace the pattern pieces again, but smaller (approximately 3/4″ will work) for the fusible fleece and interfacing pieces. If you don’t do this, the pattern will tell you to cut them full size and then trim them down. Thus, this direction promoted a lot of waste in the interfacing, Peltex and fusible fleece.
  3. Make a separate pattern piece for the inside pocket as well. This is a combined piece and it is just too confusing not to have a separate pattern piece.
  4. Make a chart (Excel or the Google Docs Spreadsheet feature would work) of the pattern pattern pieces you will need and which fibers you need to cut them out of. I didn’t know to do this and ended up laying all the cut pieces out and reading the list over and over while counting pieces.
  5. The designers seem to have a problem with naming pattern pieces consistently. In Step 4G, they ask you to do something to a Lining Panel. This was the first time I had ever heard of this piece.
  6. This pattern and the directions don’t always make it clear which layer (fleece & interfacing or interfacing only) the designer wants you to work with.
  7. Sweet Harmony Org System
    Sweet Harmony Org System
  8. Directions should have included a rotary kit (cutter, mat, ruler). The instructions do not include these tools, but they make the process much easier. I understand that the pattern isn’t necessarily targeted at quiltmakers, however I think many sewists now have rotary cutting kits as part of their tool arsenal. If you only sew garments and accessories (e.g. no quilts) and do not have a rotary cutting kit, I think you should go and buy one. What do you think?
  9. Use tailor tacks to mark dots.
  10. Handbag pattern includes a 20″ zipper in the list of supplies needed. Then the designer wants you to modify this zipper to make it about 8″ shorter. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how to modify a zipper. I also did not want to modify a zipper. I barely know how to put in a zipper. TFQ who has LOTS of garment sewing experience and she didn’t know how to modify a zipper with confidence either. This is another bit of waste. I ended up omitting the zipper (it’s for a an inside pocket), but I would recommend buying a 12″ zipper and not modifying anything. The pattern also gives the pattern pieces for a tote bag, which I did not make, and I believe that the 20″ zipper would work with the tote bag. I think they were trying to save space on the pattern by not listing two supplies.
  11. The marks for the magnetic snaps are below and to the left of where they actually should go.

    Sewing piping to outside pocket
    Sewing piping to outside pocket
  12. The pattern asks you to make much more piping than you actually need. You will really only need about 25″.
  13. Finally, there are not enough pictures, despite the price of the pattern, so I would recommend giving yourself plenty of time and using nice fabric. You may never make it again, so you want to like it!

I think that making all the tote bags I have made really helped in understanding the pattern and how to follow the directions. The final product is really nice and looks very professional. I als learned how to make a pocket that has a little tuck so larger things will fit and you can actually pull it out.

Outside & cell phone pocket
Outside & cell phone pocket
Sweet Harmony Inside
Sweet Harmony Inside

Gift Post #2

Flower Tote
Flower Tote

Remember this tote? I wrote about in a post way back in March. I ended up giving it to my mom so I get to visit with it periodically as she brings it over when she comes to visit with the Child.

The financial situation has not improved much, but my mom said in no uncertain terms that we were going to exchange gifts. We didn’t last year and she said it was really hard, so I decided to work on making some her, and a few others, some gifts.

I am not always a fan of giving homemade gifts, because I don’t want to give people things that have that homemade dorky look. I also like giving people things they will actually use and I don’t know yet know how to make iPhones or a Wii.

I have been working REALLY hard at making my fiber stuff look professional. It will never look like it was made in a factory, which I don’t want either.  I press really well, poke the corners carefully and am careful about stitching, so I think they look good. In any case, I am not embarrassed to give things I make away.

Mom's Pencil Roll
Mom's Pencil Roll

I decided to make my mom a pencil roll since I thought she would use it and I had a lot of fun making Julie’s during my week away. Kathy‘s patterns (well, at least this one) are fabulous. As I mentioned in a previous post, they are very well written and easy to understand.

Mom's Pencil Roll Open
Mom's Pencil Roll Open

The most time consuming bit of this project was cutting the strips. I was kind of at a loss on fabric choices until I found the flowered fabric and the turquoise, both of which I used on the tote I made for her. Perfect! She’ll have a little set!

Stitching all the parts together after layering and turning them is also fairly time consuming. I do that topstitching very slowly after marking the lines on the pocket with a white pencil.

For the inside, Kathy says to use flannel, which I didn’t have, so I used batting and it was a little bit thick o sew through. I can’t say I would absolutely not use batting again, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. If I make another one, I’ll try a couple of layers of interfacng, though I suspect that would make the piece too stiff. We’ll see what I have in the fabric closet that might work.

Strips sewn for Pencil Roll #2
Strips sewn for Pencil Roll #2

Above is a picture of how the strips look sewn together before the whole thing is layered together. One thing I needed to remind myself about was to turn the strips with a strong motif around so it would show after the pocket was applied. I didn’t choose fabrics that would lend themselves to arranging the strips in a colorwash design, as Julie did with mine. I am happy with the arrangement and the idea of making his pencil roll into part of a set.

Gift Post #1

Grama's Grab Bag
Grama's Grab Bag

I mentioned that I am trying to make as many gifts as possible for the holidays. I am having fun doing it, but I wish that I had started earlier. I wasn’t sure what to make Grama since all she really likes to do is shop and play bingo. I decided to make her a ‘Grab Bag’ from the All People Quilt pattern.

She has started bringing bags back to the grocery, so I decided to make her this bag. I knew how to make it since I made it for a gift previously and could use a couple of FQs, if necessary.

Grama's Grab Bag in process
Grama's Grab Bag in process

I found the older Jinny Beyer border print and a floral for the inside and think that it turned out well. I know she doesn’t read blogs, so I am not worried about ruining the surprise by posting this before Christmas.

Birthday Gift

Business card holder
Business card holder

My birthday isn’t until January, but during my week away, TFQ took me to Laura Bee Designs, a handbag maker in Seattle, and I was allowed to pick out the makings of a business card holder. It came last week.

I asked about whether she made saddlebag type handbags and she asked me what I liked about my handbag. I found out later that Laura asks many people that question.

Biz Card - inside
Biz Card - inside

I love the bright cheeriness and I am waiting anxiously for someone to ask me for my card so I can whip it out and show it off.

We first heard about Laura Bee from a CraftSanity podcast. You can hear a lot of more about how Laura got started and her whole business.

Usable Bags

Cherry in Tote
Cherry in Tote

I was walking back from lunch the other day. I am always on the prowl for the perfect bag and saw a display of luggage I had never seen before. I looked closer and really couldn’t figure out the purpose of  these suitcases. Finally, I stepped back and looked at the store’s sign and found it was a pet store and these carriers were for pets! I was amazed at the complexity.

The other day my sister sent me this picture of her dog, Cherry in the tote I made. I never thought of using the Eco-Market totes as dog carriers, but I am sure it was much cheaper than one of the pieces of luggage I saw downtown. Doesn’t Cherry look cute and sweet? She is sweet, but only intermittently. My Sis saved her from a bad home and she has to contend with 3 other dogs, the smallest of whom is 3x her size!

I hope her little claws don’t rip through. The bag has already been back and forth a time or two.

Babies Finished

Babies and wedding some in waves and I am in a baby wave right now. I am not having my own baby, just to be very clear. Friends are in baby producing mode, however. I have made a few quilts for friends, but am, frankly, too lazy for the most part.

I do make receiving blankets quite frequently. They are much more useful than quilts and people seem less reluctant to use them or save them for a special day. I thought I had written about them before, but I guess not. I searched and only saw mentions

Lily Blankets
Lily Blankets

Mostly I made receiving blankets, which can be used for all sorts of useful baby things such as:

Superman (or girl) cape

sunshade

nursing cover

layer for warmth

tent

playmat

wings

changing pad

burp cover

etc

Ayden Blankets
Ayden Blankets

I fold over a double hem and stitch with fun thread and a decorative stitch. Often I will leave the selvedge on so as not to have to hem yet another side. The decorative stitch takes awhile, so it is better for me to do as little hemming as possible. If these were going to another sewist or quiltmaker, I might rethink that strategy, but mostly they go to people who are not crafty.

Baby Gift Bags
Baby Gift Bags

Finally, I don’t usually give gift bags to people who don’t give them back or re-use them. This time, I really didn’t feel like dealing with any paper or tape or anything. I sincerely dislike wrapping gifts with paper, so I pulled some fabric off the ‘back art’ shelf and made two bags. I don’t really like the background color of the fabric. Don’t ask me why I bought it – the cherries, probably. I like the bags, though and perhaps it will encourage more people to make fabric gift bags they can re-use.

Kim’s Garland

Kim's Garland
Kim's Garland

This is a cool garland that my sister made.I thought I wrote about it before, but apparently not.

If you want to buy it, go to her Etsy shop. I love it and hope she will just make one for me and I don’t have to buy it. I can imagine it draped artistically aroung my bannister. She is a tough business woman, though, so we will see. 😉

Mini Gift Bag

Mini Gift
Mini Gift

I got the directions for making this little bag, just with folding an sewing from Maeda Trading Company at PIQF 2009.

They sold squares of fabric so you could make this little bag right away. Of course, a person could also use their own fabric with no problem.

Mine looks a little weird, because I didn’t have enough of the right ribbon to make this work. I thought about using these types of bags as another kind fo gift bag.

Gift Bags Return

Gift Bag #2, Holiday 2009
Gift Bag #2, Holiday 2009

This is one of the fabrics I received from the new Etsy store in April, which I didn’t order. Some of it isn’t really my style, but every style makes a good gift bag, so here is gift bag #2 for Holiday 2009.

To make gift bags:

I press a double hem on one side of a fat quarter and finish it with a decorative stitch. This is a good way to get to know the resources required to use your decorative stitches.

Once done, I fold the piece in half, right sides together, aligning the hem at the top. I put a piece of ribbon, folded in half, inside the piece. The fold of the ribbon will be sticking of the side a little bit and is placed about a quarter of the way down the side.

I sew down the side, starting with the hem. I reinforce the start, the the ribbon and the end by backstitching over it a few times. Then I turn the bag right side out.

I love using gift bags for gifts. Besides the fact that I intensely dislike wrapping gifts with paper, the fabric feels so much nicer in my hands. I also get to see the beautiful holiday fabric each year.

Last of the Infinity Blocks

Infinity Blocks, late September 2009
Infinity Blocks, late September 2009

Here are the last blocks from my SIL. I got them from my niece who brought them back from Maryland (family-mail). I have had them around for at least two months and I haven’t had a chance to put them up here on the blog.

I still have enough white squares to make at least one more block. I still have to do that. I seem to be distractible lately.

New Infinity Blocks

I received another batch of Infinity blocks from my SIL in the mail last week. Here is the large group (about 31) that I received.

Blocks from SIL, August 2009
Blocks from SIL, August 2009

It is so interesting to see her fabric selections and the fabrics she has and compare those two points to the blocks I have made and the fabric I have used. I was also thrilled and amazed to see some of the fabrics that she owns/chose for this project. We get along pretty well, but, sadly, we don’t get to spend very much time together since we live on different coasts. See the bottom right, second block in? That is not a fabric I would have suspected SIL of having, yet I am thrilled that she included it! It shows me another side of her quiltmaking.

After laying these out I decided to lay out all of the blocks I had, so I gathered up the various stashes of Infinity blocks and laid them out on the floor of my workroom.

All Infinity Blocks, Auust 2009
All Infinity Blocks, August 2009

The above group has about 80 blocks in it. WOW! I can’t believe that we have made that many. I realized that there are a few elsewhere that aren’t included. So, there will be at least one more photo of these quilt blocks for your perusal.

I am glad we are working on this project together. I feel like it brings us closer together.

Infinity Blocks from SIL

Infinity Blocks from Cathy
Infinity Blocks from Cathy

These are the blocks that my SIL sent to me via DH-mail. I think i will be interesting to take a photo of all of the blocks together.

I made another couple over the weekend, but am writing for an even number before I photograph them. It is more interesting if I have a few to show you.

Teacher Pillows 2009 Complete

The four Teacher Pillows are complete. I have one more pillow form, but the Child is being uncooperative about the last drawing, so I may just save the pillow form for next year. I could take a drawing out of his drawing book and use that…. We’ll see. I think I am done with this project except for the wrapping the pillows in pretty paper.

Tangled Star - EQ6
Tangled Star - EQ6

The above is the outline/color drawing that can be printed from EQ6. It turns out that this was useless to me when I went to make the block, or so I thought.

Resource Teacher Pillow
Resource Teacher Pillow

This is how my version came out. I keep pictures of all of the pillows so I know what the past pillows looked like. That way I can use the same or similar fabrics and the teachers end up with sets of pillows if they teach the Child more than one year. This is the 3rd or 4th pillow I have made for this teacher.

Key for Foundation Piecing
Key for Foundation Piecing

This block is foundation pieced, so I also printed the segments (see below). When I looked at the printed segments, they made no sense to me. The design page ended up as a wonderful key to the colors and placement of the fabrics. I wrote letters on each piece, which correspond to the letters I wrote on the pattern pieces.

Pattern pieces ready to cut out and sew
Pattern pieces ready to cut out and sew

You can see, if you click on the picture to make it bigger and look carefully a letter, a number and a color. The color notes which fabric I need to use. The letter corresponds to the letter on the design key, which I added to make sure I didn’t assign two segments to the same section of the block. The number is the piecing/sewing order. Doing the prep took some time, but it was worth it once I started to piece. The segment pieces/patterns really don’t look like they will make the Tangled Star block, so these strategies really helped.

Piecing Order detail
Piecing Order detail

Above shows the segment after I have pieced the fabric on to it. The red and gold needed to be pieced first, which they were. I then trimmed them and sewed on the green. In this photo the green still needs to be trimmed.

Resource Teacher Pillow back
Resource Teacher Pillow back

Above is the back. The drawing is a sort of label. The Child has a distinctive drawing style that the teachers seem to enjoy. I usually let him draw whatever he wants.

Teacher Pillow Labels
Teacher Pillow Labels

To make the label, I divide up a sheet of copy/printer paper into 4 sections. Then I draw in the seam allowances and have the Child draw inside the lines. Once done, I copy onto fabric backed with freezer paper or something. I get it from Dharma, but The Electric Quilt Company and many other companies sell similar products. Once the drawings have been transferred, I rotary cut the labels apart on the cutting lines and add each label as part of the back of the pillow cover.

Omega Block Pillow, Social Studies Teacher, 6B
Omega Block Pillow, Social Studies Teacher, 6B

I let The Child pick out the blocks. I do have to guide and encourage him a little as this is a boring exercise for him and he, usually, just wants to get it over with as quickly as possible. This year he took more of an interest. Above is the block (Omega) he chose for his social studies teacher. They just finished studying Greece, so I think the Greek alphabet was on his mind. He also informed me that Omega is his favorite Greek letter.

I printed out the rotary cutting directions for the Omega, thinking that I could just make it that way. The pillow forms were 14″ so I had to scale up which resulted in a lot of 16th inch measurements. After cutting about the 10th 16th inch cut, I decided that foundation piecing was the way to go.

Sometimes he gets a little too enthusiastic. He wanted me to make a Mariner’s Compass for his resource teacher and I flat out refused. If I am going to make a Mariner’s Compass I have to start a lot earlier.

Omega Block, back
Omega Block, back

The Child used a lot more words on his  labels his year than he has in the past.

Homeroom Teacher, 6A
Homeroom Teacher, 6A

This is the first block I made. I wanted simple blocks. They got harder the more The Child was involved. He did the color selection on this one (orange and purple). I was skeptical until I found the flower print with a similar color scheme.

Homeroom Teacher Pillow, back
Homeroom Teacher Pillow, back

I hope she can read the back. It is really squished.

Teacher Aide Pillow
Teacher Aide Pillow

I really like the color scheme of this pillow. The Child went with the colors EQ6 had in their example and I think it works.  I took the opportunity to use the blue in one of the Infinity blocks as well. The color scheme reminds me of the color scheme for a RUSH day I organized in college. We wore yellow, red and green dresses and looked really bright and cheerful.

Teacher Aide Pillow, back
Teacher Aide Pillow, back

I was a little concerned about the drawing on the back as the Aide does not look very happy in his drawing. I asked the Child about the drawing and, being a boy of few words, refused to discuss it with me. I asked if she always had a lot of filing to do and he said no. That was really the end of the discussion. Oh well, I have a policy of not censoring his art if it isn’t rude or p*rnographic, so she will have to make of it what she will.

From the past:

2008 Teacher Pillows

2007 Teacher Pillows

And here are a couple from prior to 2007, as far as I can tell. 😉

4th Grade Aide Pillow
4th Grade Aide Pillow
3rd Grade Teacher Pillow
3rd Grade Teacher Pillow
4th Grade Teacher Pillow
4th Grade Teacher Pillow