Saturday, December 15, 2018

Making Stockings for a Growing Family

For the first time in three years, all of my children will be together. That is the best gift I could ever receive. It was time to add to the stocking collection so that everyone would be included.

There was a point in time when I thought I would make everyone a cross-stitch stocking, but quickly realized that was going to take more time than I had available. I still have the beginnings of those somewhere and add a few stitches every now and then. Instead, we went with inexpensive, crafty stockings that could uniquely represent each family member. This is where we started in the mid-1990s. Erica was old enough to hand stitch the face on to her flower.

These are all constructed using inexpensive craft felt. Once I decide what should be represented on a stocking, I search for free clip art or photographs to mimic. Typically, I enlarge and print the picture, then use tracing paper to draw and cut all the pieces. For the original stockings I zig zag stitched around each piece, but now I use a simple straight stitch around the edges to hold the pieces in place. The edges of the stocking are both straight stitched and zigzag stitched for strength to hold all the goodies that will be placed inside for Christmas. Beads and sequins are hand stitched down depending on the level of bling desired. These are easy to make and fun to include family members in the process.

In 2000 and 2003, two more children joined us. We've enjoyed our six stockings for many years.

Erica has her own family now. This will be their first Christmas at our house. Zack and Amelia needed a stocking. Amelia turned two last September. We haven't had little kid excitement at Christmas for quite a while around here!

Evan got engaged just a month ago. They live on the beach and Gabi loves her birds.

My mom recently mentioned that she did not have a stocking so I made a pair for her and her dog to hang at her house, too.

It's going to be fun to watch our family continue to grow over the years. This project is the last of my "must finish before Christmas" sewing. Now, I can slow the pace and enjoy time with family, time by the fire, and the peace and joy of the season.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Inspired by a Painting - A Quilt Gift

Sometimes a quilt takes time to evolve. This is one of those. Last year, we went to visit my son and his girlfriend. This was the first time I had met her. She is an artist and had a painting on the wall in their living room that I was really drawn to.

This was from a college class where the assignment was to paint something using only circles. I wanted to use the colors in this painting to make a quilt for them. The mixture of colors in the painting made me think about batik fabrics first, so a stash busting I went. In my head, I was going to do a literal translation with the color placement.

I did not have enough in my stash for that to work out and for some reason, I was sticking closely to the darkest of colors in the painting.

The next iteration had a few more medium tones added in and then came the experiment with pops of color. I had to look at this one a few days and finally figured out that it was because there were too many short scraps and no continuity of color anywhere. This was just too chaotic.

Then I finally got around to adding some lighter colors (honestly, the critique of my family is what it took to convince me to add the lighter colors), took out anything that was too floral or leafy, and continued to debate about whether or not to add the pops of color. There were other sewing projects mixed in to this process, but I bet this had been on the design wall for a month or more at this point. We went out of town for a few days.

This is what I came home to. I think our cat had a little bit of fun while we were away. It was time to start sewing or else this project was never going to be finished.

It wasn't until I started looking at this quilt vertically rather than horizontally that I thought maybe it was going to turn out okay. Maybe I would like it a little. To help it along even more, I decided to back it with a plush minky in navy. This was a first for me so I was nervous about quilting with a thick fuzzy backing.

I did a bit of reading for tips and learned that extra basting and using a larger size needle were essential to successful quilting. I use 505 basting spray for layering quilts and I was extra generous for this project. Both tips were very helpful. I kept the quilt design simple, using a large meander and then a rough outline of each triangle.

I knew there was no way I could accurately stitch around the outside of each triangle so intentionally went wonky with them. You can see a tiny bit of fuzz coming through on the lightest of the fabrics. That all but disappeared after the quilt was washed.

Here's another peak at the quilting.

The quilting shows up nicely on the back, too. I love the plush coziness of that backing.

The binding is machine stitched and is a lovely midnight blue batik. The girlfriend of a year ago is now a soon to be daughter-in-law. They were engaged last month and are planning a small spring wedding. I love my growing family.

The weather has been dreadfully wet and gray so I never got any great pictures of this quilt. It is now all wrapped up under the tree for them to open when they pass through on their way to visit other family this holiday season.

While this quilt is not at all what I pictured in my head when I first started making it, it evolved into a warm and cozy gift that will always remind me of the first time I met my soon to be daughter-in-law.

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