Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A One-Hour Pillow (whose hour took about 8 months to arrive)

This was supposed to be one of those quick, satisfying projects to whip up and get done.


The design is from Urban Threads, and was a freebie much earlier this year (it's now $7.00). I actually stitched it out within a day or so of its release, and intended to make it into a neck roll pillow. I set the embroidered fabric aside, along with the pillow form, and then... somehow... well, you know how it goes.

Finally, yesterday I got tired of the fabric laying there, mocking me every time I passed that corner of the workroom. It was dusty, but the beautiful embroidery was still just as lovely. I'm not sure what possessed me, but I snatched it up, shook it off, and proceeded to make the pillow. The hardest thing was resisting the urge to make it "perfect." The little voice in my head kept shrieking "Add cording!! Add ruffles!! Add something!!" But I just wanted it done, so it could become a useful item in my home, rather than yet another UFO in the workroom.

And, plain as it is, I actually like how it came out.

When my daughter and I were at the Maryland Renaissance Festival this weekend, I spotted a pillow that said "Queen of Unfinished Projects." I need to make that pillow... someday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Something to go with Ian's Tron bag

After I posted the Tron bag pictures, my friend Sarah from the Creative Machine list suggested I might consider making this accessory to go with it:

Sarah is such an enabler. How could I resist a challenge like that? Especially since I haven't touched a soldering iron since high school? So I ordered the kit (actually, I ordered four of them... you never know when you'll need some flashing LEDs!). Today I finally had all the components needed to complete the project, so I got to work.

Assembling the kit is very easy; it took me less than 2 hours start to finish. Then I spent another hour modifying a tie I got from Salvation Army to insert the kit.

And here's the finished tie:

And here is the tie in action:

I did make one modification to the kit to make the battery operation easier. The instructions tell you to use a binder clip to clip the bare leads to a CR2032 button battery. However, that's mighty fiddly and, after a while, the leads would likely start fraying. Instead, I took apart a battery-powered tealight, removed the LED light and soldered the leads to the clips.

While it lacks an on-off switch, the battery now has a secure connection, and you just have to remove the battery to turn it off.

This tie will be going to Arizona as a surprise for my son Ian. I hope he gets an opportunity to wear it for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"I Spy" quilt finished!

It's been a while since I've had anything of interest to post about. But finally, I have something worth showing pictures of!
Earlier this year, I joined an "I Spy" fabric swap at Kimbo West's blog, A Girl and a Glue Gun. Now, I'm not a quilter, but I do have a "practice grandchild" -- my next-door-neighbor's little boy. He's turning two this month, and I wanted to make him something special from his "Tante" (as he calls me). What better than an I Spy quilt? So I signed up. I sent in my squares (I had to send in 10 squares each of 10 different fabrics; in return, I would get a package of 100 squares, all different). I got my package of squares back during the summer, and the project sat awaiting my attention. Finally, its turn came a few weeks ago, and I got started piecing the squares together.
The only hitch was that there were quite a few very "girly" fabrics in the mix, and this boy's parents are kind of on the "traditional" side, so I had to substitute about 15 fabrics. I didn't have that many in my own stash, but the amazing Julie Bowersett came to my rescue and provided the missing fabrics that were just perfect. Thank you, Julie!!!
I was also in a quandary as to what to use for backing. The solution presented itself when I was at the Sewing Expo, and I came across the SewBatik booth. I had bought their extra-wide border print batiks in the past to make the Folkwear Kimono. Well, they had something new: extra-wide batik flannel!! I bought two yards in a mottled dark blue/green colorway.
The assembly itself went pretty quickly; it was all done by machine. There are a few spots where the seams didn't quite line up, but hey, I never claimed to be a master quilter! It was also quilted on my Juki industrial -- which doesn't have a walking foot, yet somehow I ended up with virtually no shifting or puckering. I'm constantly amazed by that machine. I just stitched in the ditch along all the seam lines. The binding was a strip of the same flannel as the backing, on the straight of grain, machine-stitched to the front, then turned and hand-stitched to the backing. I digitized the label with Embird and machine-stitched it to the backing (before sandwiching the quilt, of course) with a fine zigzag stitch.
And here's the final product!

As you can see, I didn't do any sashing or anything like that. I just wanted to have the jumble of pictures, for maximum confusion fun.

Here you can see the backing fabric:

In between is a layer of high-loft batting. It really is a very plush and cushy quilt.

The label:

I'll be presenting the quilt to the birthday boy on Saturday, and can't wait to see his reaction. In the meantime, I'm glad I'm done, as I'll be spending the next two days in a computer class and will have zero time for sewing!