Hooked on Needles

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Handpiecing 9 Patch Squares for Children's Quilting Class

I started handpiecing the pillow top for the children's quilting class I'll be doing at the library this summer. Since it is only 9 squares, it didn't take too long. Here's how I did it...

After deciding on the arrangement of the squares and marking the 1/4 inch seam line on all sides of each square, I chose the two I would start piecing and placed them right sides together. Using my long straight pins, I pushed a pin through both squares so that it was directly on the marked line of both squares. I used one pin about every inch. At the corners, I made sure that the pin went directly through the intersection of the lines at the corners on each square.

Here is the wrong side of the other square showing the pointed ends of the pins poking through.

Then I took another pin and put it into the seam allowance near the first pin and then back out again so that it was flat with the fabric. The pin sticking straight up through both fabrics ensures that neither fabric will slip during this pinning. Then I removed the first pin that was sticking straight up and used it to pin the fabric near the next pin. I continued this until each of the pins that were sticking straight up out of the fabric was removed and replaced by a pin that was flat on the fabric.

Then I took my favorite quilting needle and hand quilting thread and began to stitch the seam. Using knots in hand piecing will tend to produce unnecessary bulk in the seams, so it is not recommended. Instead, start stitching about 1/2 inch away from a corner along the seamline and stitch towards the corner, making sure that your needle is going into the marked line on both squares. After every few stitches, work a little back stitch by putting your needle into the fabric about a half stitch back from where you ended your last stitch. This will lock your stitches in place. Once you have stitched that little 1/2 inch and have reached the corner, turn your stitching around and stitch the entire seam line to the opposite corner, working a little back stitch as before each time you come to a pin, or about every inch or so. When you reach the corner, turn your work around and stitch about 1/2 inch back along the seam line, taking one more little back stitch in that 1/2 inch. Then clip your thread.

I stitched all three rows of squares in this manner, and then...

...I pinned the rows together and stitched them in the same way, making sure that my needle was going directly through the marked line with every stitch and through the intersections of the lines at each corner...

...until all nine squares were connected to each other.

And there is the 9 patch pillow top, ready for layering and quilting.

I really enjoy hand piecing because of it's slow pace and relaxing rhythm. It produces just about perfectly accurate seams and corners too. Do you have any tips for hand piecing that you would like to share? Please leave a comment and let everyone know!

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Babette Update #2

Remember those lazy days of summer between school years?

Not having the responsibility of school is really agreeing with my oldest daughter, Elizabeth. She loves sleeping in a little later, puttering around the house, playing with her little sister and brother, and spending long afternoons and evenings with her crocheting. All this, of course, when she isn't working!

Here's a picture of the progress she has made so far on her Babette...

Babette Update #2She is so happy with how it is turning out, and even my husband commented on how much he likes it! I think what is keeping her interested in this project for so long is the frequent color changes, and the variety of block sizes for each section. She also has the incentive of wanting to have this complete before she begins her college career on September 2, so she just keeps plugging away a little bit each day.

Since she purchased the larger skeins of Red Heart yarn for this project, she will have lots leftover and is already planning what she will do with that. I'm guessing another afghan, but I'm not sure if she'll jump right into another Babette right away!

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Progress on 9 Patch Pillow Children's Quilting Class Sample

I've made a little progress on the 9 patch block which will be the sample for the children's beginner quilting class I am doing at our local library later this summer. After choosing my fabrics and cutting them into 5 1/4 inch squares, I arranged them in what I thought was a pleasing way. It took me a while to get to this, but I like how it ended up. Good thing there were only 9 squares or I still wouldn't be at this point yet!

Marking the quarter inch on each squareThe squares are showing their wrong sides here, and you can see all my supplies gathered together. I love using my quilter's quarter for marking the seam line. No guess work involved!

I decided to put the white muslin square in the middle so I can quilt a pretty design or initial into it. I like for the children taking the class to be able to personalize their piece and I think initials are a nice way to do that.

Marking the quarter inch on each squareAnd here you can see the very fine pencil lines on each side of the squares. For the dark purple square, I used my white pencil which I first sharpened to a very fine point.

Next up, I'll be showing some of the details of how I hand piece my squares, so if this is something you have not done before, you might find it interesting.

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recycled Another Pair of Jeans into a Clothes Pin Bag

One just wasn't enough for Bonnie, so here's my second recycled jeans clothes pin bag. This one has butterflies on it!

Purple trimmed clothes pin bag from recycled jeans
For this bag, I reused the hanger that Bonnie's old clothes pin bag had been on since she likes the way it swivels, and I even used a pair of old jeans she gave me to recycle!

The bias binding was another scrap in my pile of Better-Keep-This-In-Case-I-Might-Need-It-Someday ribbons and trims and bindings and other little stuff. Doesn't everyone have one of those piles? Mine happens to be kept hidden away inside the seat of my sewing chair too! I love that feature!

The butterflies were hanging around in my cabinet, just waiting for their chance to fly away on something that would be used outdoors. What better place for them to fly than in Bonnie's backyard!

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Learn to Crochet - Single Crochet Shells in Tiramisu Baby Blanket

Merry, of crocheted ABC Blanket fame, recently shared with me a pattern she had found for the Tiramisu Baby Blanket because she was having a bit of trouble with keeping the edges straight.

Here is a picture of the sample I crocheted using 3 colors. This shows off the single crochet shells very nicely, and in the video below, it also makes seeing the individual rows much easier.

Single Crochet Shells

Hopefully this video will help Merry and others in crocheting this very pretty blanket. See what you think...

I think this stitch would also make a very cozy and colorful scarf, stitched either long ways or across the short way. I can also imagine that this stitch crocheted using bulky weight yarn and a very large hook would work up quickly into a full size afghan.

Single Crochet ShellsEither solid or multi-color, the stitch used in the Tiramisu Baby Blanket is easy to do and very versatile. It reminds me a little bit of the Ripple Stitch and the Woven Stitch, both of which I have used for full size afghans, baby blankets, and crocheted scarves.

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Have you ever made a rug?

Latch hooking is something I've done a few times, and making a braided rug is something I've always wanted to try but never have. But real honest-to-goodness rug making is something I know I'll never do. And I'm ok with that!

Up until a few years ago, we had no wood floors in our home so I did not need area rugs, but we finally had beautiful real hard wood floors installed in the front half of the first floor. I have purchased a few small rugs since then and have not been too pleased with the selection at stores close to me. Recently I was contacted by someone from CSN Rugs offering my choice of an area rug to receive in my own home and review on my website. I was a little hesitant at first since I really do try to restrict my content to needlework related topics that are somewhat educational and of personal interest to me, but after looking at the extensive selection of area rugs on their website, I just couldn't pass up this offer. So here is what I picked...

This rug is machine made in the USA and the one I picked is small, 23 by 39 inches. I just love the rich colors and the bold design. I am thinking about putting it in front of the fireplace in the living room. But these colors would also look very nice in our master bedroom. We have yet to extend the wood floors to the second level though, so I'm thinking it will remain on the main floor for now.

I am looking forward to receiving this rug and using it in my home. I will be sure to give you all my thoughts on the rug and my experience with the company in case you are looking to purchase rugs online. It's always nice to deal with a company whose reputation can be verified by people you trust. Hopefully this company will be one of those! I'll let you know.

Next up will be a little video on a crochet stitch used in a baby blanket that I think you will like. It's super easy and can be done in a solid color, or I found out also looks lovely crocheted in several different colors. This pattern would also make a warm and cozy scarf. You won't want to miss it!

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Fun Fabric for Children's Quilting Class

Last summer I held a 4 session embroidery class at our local library and the children who attended really seemed to enjoy learning a new skill and putting it to good use.

I have been invited back again this summer and the project I have chosen to teach this time is a 9 patch quilted pillow.

Wanna see the fun fabric I picked out for this project?

Fabric for Children's Quilting ClassThe four print fabrics in the lower part of the picture were part of my fun purchase recently when I was looking for black and whites for my sister's pin cushion bag. The other five fabrics are from my stash. I cut 5 1/4 inch squares of each fabric, so after hand stitching them into a 9 patch, the finished block will be 14 3/4 inches. After quilting and stitching to the pillow back, this should be just perfect for covering a 14 inch pillow form.

Now the only question is ... can 6 children, ages 10 to 12, get all this done in four 1.5 hour sessions? We'll see!

More pictures of the sample in progress to come!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Merry's Crocheted ABC Blanket

I've been so blessed to have met such nice people from all parts of this country and around the world since I began publishing Hooked On Needles just over a year ago. Merry, my self-professed Biggest Fan, is one of those people. She's pretty new at crocheting and has made some wonderful things. Her thoughtful questions on patterns and how to do certain stitches on the Knittinghelp.com forum have been the inspiration for a few of my video tutorials. But for the most part, she picks up her yarn and hook and just goes for it. What an inspiration!

Merry just recently sent me a picture of a newly finished project for her granddaughter who will be 4 years old in a few months, and she gave me permission to publish the picture here for you all to see.

Merry's Crocheted ABC BlanketDon't you think that is the perfect afghan for a 4 year old? Now she can learn her ABCs in her sleep!

If you would like the pattern for this blanket, you can find it HERE. The puff stitch that is used in this pattern to make the grid lines and the letters is similar to the bobble stitch I used on the Cherry Berry Oddball Blanket, but not exactly the same. I will work up a little sample of the stitch from the ABC pattern and post a video soon so you can see just how it is done.

Nice job, Merry, and thank you so much for allowing me to share this fabulous picture of you and your blanket with my readers!

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sneak Peek at Sweet Liberty Afghan for PFC Jonathan Roberge Memorial Golf Tournament Raffle

This past January was a sad time for the city of Leominster. For the first time since the Vietnam war, one of our own was killed in action. I knew the family of PFC Jonathan Roberge through my daughter's involvement in the high school band where Jonathan's younger sister plays the trumpet.

Later this summer, a golf tournament along with a raffle will be held to raise money for a memorial scholarship fund and I wanted to do something to help. Golf just isn't my Thing, but I do love to crochet! So I thought the afghan kit which I had been saving in my project closet for just the right occasion would be the perfect item to make and donate to the raffle.

Sweet Liberty Afghan blocksThe name of the afghan is Sweet Liberty and it is made up of 20 blocks, 10 with blue stars in the middle just like in the picture, and 10 with red stars in the middle. The yarn is Bernat worsted weight and a real pleasure to work with. After reformatting the pattern so that I could follow it easily, I started working on the blocks. So far I have 6 completed. 4 more blue star blocks and 10 red star blocks, then I will crochet the blocks together and do the red border around the whole thing. Hopefully it will all be finished before tee time on August 1st.

I'll keep you posted!

Happy Stitching!

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Disappearing 9 Patch Blocks Complete

Even after saying I was not going to take on any more projects until my list was all red, I signed up for a quilt block swap! I just couldn't resist! It's a block I had never done before, and in fact my very first quilt block swap ever. Such fun could not be passed up!

Disappearing 9 Patch Blocks CompleteAunt Pitty Pat's is hosting a Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt Block Swap which may still have some room in it for you sporting spirits out there.

These are my 9 patch blocks, made mostly from 2 Sumptuous Living charm packs. Since there were only 36 charms in each pack, I had to supplement with a few pieces of my own fabric. But I got all 10 of my 9 patch blocks sewn up...

Disappearing 9 Patch Blocks Complete...and then I started cutting. That's the fun part, when you get to see what the final blocks will look like. What a clever design this is!

I am anxious to receive my collection of blocks from the other swappers and see what fun fabrics they used. I will be sure to share them with you here, at least a picture anyway!

Well, my little guy graduated from kindergarten yesterday morning in the cutest, most touching ceremony you could ever imagine. And my big girl is all graduated from high school now and heading down to her college today to take her placement tests and get her schedule for the fall. So the relaxed summer schedule has begun here at home. I don't plan to relax too much though, because I have lots of projects I still need to work on and share with you!

Coming up next is a peek at that afghan I am making for the golf tournament raffle prize I mentioned the other day. And I think I'll be making a few more of those recycled jeans clothes pin bags for my friend. She loved the bumble bee one that I made for her so she's bringing me the hangers from her old bags so I can make her some new ones. I guess that idea was a winner!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Make your Patterns Easy to Read

I don't crochet too many afghans from kits, but on a rare occasion I'll find one that really strikes me and I buy it. When it makes its way up to the top of my project list, I take it out and check out the pattern. Sometimes it's written in an easy to read format and I can just sit down with my hook and yarn and get busy. Mostly though, it's something like this...

Original Pattern...written on the back of the package label on a heavy duty piece of card stock that is big enough to wrap around the whole package, front and back, and in three languages. Not exactly something I can sit on my lap or prop on the table next to my chair! This picture doesn't even show the whole thing, that's how big it is!

Downsized PatternSo I take it to my computer and scan the English language sections, cut and paste them into a Publisher file in the correct order, all on one manageable page. Then I print it out. I like having it on one regular size piece of paper, but the size of the type suffers greatly by shrinking it. And I'm over 40. In fact, I'm closer to 50 now than I am to 40. If you're not there yet, let me tell you what that means in this case. I can't read the print without straining, and at my age, straining is not something I enjoy doing. Especially when I just want to sit down and relax with my crocheting!

So I came up with what I think is the perfect solution...

Easy to Read PatternI went back into my Publisher file and broke the pattern up into smaller chunks, then expanded them to be the width of a regular size piece of paper in landscape orientation. I placed two sections on each page and then printed them out. It took 4 pages to print the whole pattern. I cut the pages in half, with one section on each half. Then I stapled the whole package together in the correct order.

Easy to Read PatternThis is the perfect size to sit on my lap while I'm crocheting, turning the pages as I progress through the pattern. The type size is so large that I can read it easily with or without my reading glasses, and it is much easier to keep my place in the pattern because I don't have to strain my eyes to see where I am. Now crocheting this pattern is much more enjoyable for me and the project is moving along nicely. I'll show you a little preview of it soon.

If you don't have a scanner or software that can enlarge something for you, you can always take your pattern to a copy center and have it printed as large as you want it, then cut it up and make it into a little flip book like I did. Even if it is copyrighted, I am pretty sure that you can still make copies like this for your own personal use.

When I am finished with this project, I will store the original picture from the packaging along with my small print pattern page and my large print booklet in a page protector in my crochet pattern binder, just in case I want to make the same pattern again with my own yarn.

Do you have any little tricks that you have found to make your stitching time easier on the eyes, or just more enjoyable for you? Please leave a comment and share them with everyone!

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Pin Cushion Bag

I am so glad that I purchased the pin cushion bag kit from Connecting Threads when I did, because I have not seen it available on their website since then and I think it's just such a neat little bag. I made the two bags using the fabric that came with the kit and used one as my Fall giveaway last year.

Here is one that I made for my sister using fabric I purchased myself.

Black and White Pin Cushion BagShe wanted one made out of the leftover fabric from the tote bag I made her for Christmas, but that fabric was canvas and would not have been appropriate for this pattern even if I had enough to use. So I stopped in at Joann Fabrics while I was out of town for the Parent Orientation Day at the college my daughter will be attending in the fall, and I stocked up on some black and white fabrics and a few other fun prints that I found too!

Black and White Pin Cushion BagIsn't this a fun combination of blacks and whites? A little pretty, a little crazy and a little plain and simple. Considering she's a nun, I didn't want to get too far out there, but I wasn't about to do just plain black either!

Black and White Pin Cushion BagShe loved the bag along with the matching needle book, even though it wasn't the fabric she was hoping for.

The little crocheted Rosary case I made for her was a hit too. Now I don't have to worry about making anything else for her until Christmas time, which I read somewhere recently is less than 200 days away now! Yikes!

Coming up soon here at Hooked On Needles will be a requested tutorial on a baby blanket pattern, an idea to make following a pattern easier on the eyes, and a little peek at the afghan I am making for a raffle prize at a golf tournament being held to raise money for a memorial scholarship fund by a local family who lost their son in Iraq in January.

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recycle Jeans into a Clothes Pin Bag!

After making a few aprons using old jeans, I started thinking of other ways to recycle jeans into useful household tools. Recently a friend of mine asked if I could make a hanging bag for her clothes pins since she likes to hang her clothes out on the line in the nice weather. So I let some ideas stew in my brain for a few days and then I got to work.

Here's a little photo tutorial on how I made a clothes pin bag using an old pair of jeans, a small plastic hanger and some leftover bias binding.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansThis is the second leg of the jeans that I cut up to make the ladybug apron. I took a small plastic hanger from my children's closet and placed it at the point on the leg where the edges just met the edges of the pant leg. Then I used my white fabric marking pencil to trace the slanted lines above the hanger.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansI cut about 5/8 inch above the lines I had traced, to allow for the seam.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansI refolded the pant leg so that the front was folded in half and drew half of a teardrop-ish shape on the fold starting about 2 inches down from the top.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansThen I cut straight down the fold from the top to the beginning of the teardrop-ish shape, and then cut around the shape to make the opening which will be on the front of the bag.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansOf course you can't really see the cut-out in this picture because the denim is all the same color on the inside and the outside, but you can see a little bit of the white line left behind.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansI then bound the opening edge with a piece of extra wide bias binding from my scrap collection. I thought the yellow was a nice contrast to the black denim. Homemade bias binding of any width would also work well, or any width of ready made...whatever you have on hand!

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansJust to add some detail, I picked out one of the hardly-ever-used fancy stitches on my sewing machine, and stitched around the binding.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansThen I turned the whole thing inside out and pinned the top edge. I stitched it using about a 5/8 inch seam allowance, then I stitched it again about 1/8 inch inside the seam allowance for extra strength.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansThen I decided how long I wanted the bag to be, and cut off the extra from the bottom. I stitched up the newly cut bottom edge, and stitched it again for strength.

After turning the bag right side out again, I stitched the seam allowance at the opening to the back of the bag for added strength where the hanger will be coming out of the bag.

This is that same stitching at the opening shown from the back side of the bag.

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansI put the hanger into the bag and there it is!

But wait! Look what I found in my closet! A cute little appliqué to iron onto something. And I think this is the perfect something, don't you?

Clothes Pin Bag from Old JeansSo there's my recycled jeans/leftover bias binding/extra plastic hanger clothes pin bag, dressed up with a cute little bumble bee appliqué. It only took about 1 1/2 hours and didn't cost me a dime. Sure beats the ugly things you pay money for in the home center stores or bed and bath stores! And just think of the cute bags you could make with bias binding leftover from other projects you've done. The possibilities are endless. Just use your imagination, and save those plastic hangers!

Happy Stitching!

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