Hooked on Needles

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Helping Friends

People can be so nice. I just read that my very first Angel Swap partner Lyn is wanting to make a quilt for a friend of hers who is having a rough time right now, and she has asked for help from her quilting friends around the world. Stop by Bluebird Quilts and see what Lyn has planned for this project. If you can help out, that would be great!

I've been very busy down in my sewing room working on a tote bag project, three in fact, for a friend who will be giving them as gifts. I shared some of the fabric HERE recently, but had to go pick up more for the third bag. I'll share pictures just as soon as they are complete and ready for delivery.

Coming up very soon will be a video tutorial for the thick and cozy crocheted basket weave stitch, for which I had done a picture tutorial quite some time ago. This stitch is all double crochet, making the design by stitching around the posts of the previous row either from the front or from the back. Sometimes it's easier to learn this type of pattern by seeing it done rather than reading a description. So that is one of my projects for this week.

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blogger doesn't want me! HELP!

I just recently found out that Blogger will no longer be supporting websites that are not hosted by them and use FTP to upload content. Hooked On Needles is just such a site. I'm not very good at all the technical computer stuff that goes along with owning a website, which is why I am so grateful to have my fabulous computer-whiz husband to handle all that stuff for me. We need to move Hooked On Needles from Blogger to another service such as WordPress or TypePad and I was hoping I could find out from you, my readers, what you use and recommend. Any information or advice would be greatly appreciated. We will have to start working on this very soon as I understand that Blogger is giving us just another month or so of support. If you notice odd things happening here in the near future, you'll know why!

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rabbits Eat Quilts - So says Karen!

Free motion quilting is a technique I have not had all that much experience with, but one that I find very attractive and creative. I have not yet tried anything with fancy designs or curves, just straight lines so far. The Disappearing 9 Patch swap quilt is one project I machine quilted, as well as the Mystery Quilt I did a while ago. Not much free motion in either one of those!

Just recently, a friend and fellow band mom from right here in Leominster started up her own blog called Rabbits Eat Quilts where she shows off some of her free motion quilting projects, among other interesting things. You've seen Karen's work before if you have followed Hooked On Needles for a while. The Tuba Player wall hanging is one of her amazing pieces of fabric art depicting her daughter in full band uniform playing her tuba.

Stop in and say hi to Karen and be sure to check out her Creative Cues free motion quilting projects. They are really something. And if you are wondering if rabbits really do eat quilts, she'll even show you proof if you read all of her posts! Bad bunnies!

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Jane's Quilted and Appliqued Christmas Wallhanging

My friend Jane is quite a quilter. She makes quilts for her children and her friend's children, and for fundraisers, and gifts and other occasions as well. I've worked on a few quilts with Jane, and it's always an adventure. Jane and I were at a little fabric shop together last fall when I was looking for Halloween fabric to finish off my Halloween apron, and she found the cutest pattern for a quilted and appliqued Christmas wall hanging. She purchased some fabric to go along with it while we were there, then she made it. I love how it turned out, so cheerful and cute and Christmas-y.

It's Santa and a pair of mittens! I love mittens, as you might have guessed by our family's version of 'stockings' hung by the chimney with care! The red background fabric around the border is so pretty and rich looking and I love the swirl designs in the green border fabric too.

Jane had never done an applique project like this before, but you couldn't tell that by her blanket stitches. She did a great job.

This mitten looks cozy enough to keep any little hand warm on a cold winter day!

Nice job Jane! Thanks for letting me show it off.

I neglected to ask Jane the name of the pattern and the designer, but I know she will read this and perhaps she'll be kind enough to leave a comment with that information in case anyone is interested in making this festive little wall hanging too.

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fun Fabric and other cool stuff

A friend of mine recently asked me to make some tote bags for her to give as gifts so I took this as an opportunity to go shopping at my not-very-local Joann's fabric store. I was very happy to hear that one will be opening right here in my little city sometime within the next season or two, so that will save me lots of driving when I just need to pick up a zipper or match some thread.

I picked out two fabrics for each bag, and a matching zipper. I found some other goodies while I was there too...

Fabric and zippers for tote bagsHere are my fabrics. The top two are so bright and blue, with shimmery silver around the designs. The bottom two are a greenish sort of color with blue and off white. I really love the floral fabric and all the colors in it, but the picture doesn't seem to show them off very well. The colors in the striped fabric coordinate with the floral and should be perfect for the lining. These bags will be made similar to THIS tote bag, only with not quite so much corduroy on the outside.

findings for tote bagsI also found these great swivel hooks, D-rings and magnetic closures in four different finishes so of course I had to get one of each in each finish! I'll be using a set of each on each tote bag, building in nice little conveniences like a swivel hook to help keep track of keys, D-rings to clip a cell phone case or other small bag to, and magnetic closures to keep the inside and outside pockets closed.

It was a very productive shopping trip, but I'm sure looking forward to being able to zip right down the street when I need some little something for a project.

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gingerbread Family for Kindergarten

Gingerbread people are so fun and easy to make, and not very messy if you make them with brown felt and odd bits of trim and fabric from your stash! So fire up a gingerbread flavored candle, pull out your scraps of ric rac, lace, yarn, fabric, buttons and anything else you want to use, and whip yourself up a little family! Here's how I did mine...

The first thing you need is a shape to trace. You can freehand one yourself if you are talented that way. I am not, so I found a shape online and printed it in several sizes so I could pick which would best suit my purpose.

Gingerbread FamilyThen I traced two large and two small shapes onto my brown felt which was still folded just like it was on the bolt, so that I would have two pieces exactly alike for each little person. Looks a bit like a crime scene after something horrible happened. Oh my!

Gingerbread FamilyAfter pinning around the inside edges of each shape, I used my pinking shears to cut each person out.

Gingerbread FamilyI think the pinked edge adds to the character of the gingerbread people, but you could always use regular scissors if don't have pinkers and yours will still look great!

The next thing I did was to pick out ric rac, lace and other trims for each of my gingerbread people and sew them on in the appropriate places, but only on the front layer of each, since cookies are only decorated on the front, right? So that I would not have to keep changing my thread, I used invisible thread on the top of my machine. I thought that would be better than having lines of white thread through the colored ric rac.

I sewed on buttons for the eyes and down the fronts too, and made little fabric skirts for the mom and girl. So that the ladies would have proper undergarments, I stitched a row of pretty lace on the felt just under where the skirt hem would fall.

Then I sewed around the outside of each with about a 1/4 inch seam, stitching the fronts and backs together, and leaving an opening for stuffing. After filling each gingerbread family member with just a medium amount of stuffing, not too much but not too little, I stitched the opening. Then with some yellow cotton yarn, I gave the two ladies some hair.

Gingerbread FamilyAnd here they are, Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread Girl, Gingerbread Boy and Gingerbread Woman, just waiting for their adventure with Mrs. O'Neil's kindergarten class.

(By the way, don't you just love my electrical outlet just above my ironing board? The electrician thought I was crazy for wanting to leave it in the middle of the wall. Besides choosing a pocket door for my sewing room so as not to waste space for a swinging door, leaving that plug right in the middle of the wall was the best decision I could have made...so handy!)

Gingerbread FamilyI see a little family resemblance, don't you?

Gingerbread FamilyCould be the eyes, or perhaps that mischievous grin they all have. I think they are planning something fun for the children! Hopefully they are not thinking about running away, like that other little gingerbread boy who ended up on the nose of a sly fox and was never seen again! We'll have to wait and see.

I realized after stuffing this family that the traditional shape of the gingerbread man was sort of lost in the process. If I were to make these for myself, or smaller to use as ornaments, bookmarks or on a garland, I would use very stiff interfacing between the layers of felt instead of stuffing so that they could remain flat and retain the proper gingerbread man proportions but not be floppy and limp. Perhaps that will be a project to save for next Christmas.

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

500th Post Celebration Winners!

Popping in real quick to announce the winners of my 500th Post Giveaway! If these 5 lovely people would email a mailing address, I will get those little prizes off to them later this week. If I don't hear back from you by Jan 25, I'll pick someone else.

With the help of random.org, since my favorite helpers were both in bed, here are the winners:

#10 Marynan
#4 Lurline
#1 Adrienne
#3 Sweet P
#8 Marit Johanne

Congratulations to you all, and thank you so much to all my readers for sticking with me through 500 entries here at Hooked On Needles.

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Christmas charm squares from Sandi - and other nice things too!

Look at all the wonderful Christmas goodies Sandi from A Legacy of Stitches sent me - not for winning a giveaway or for a swap gift, but just because she is such a nice and generous person.

Christmas gifts from SandiA wonderful and very colorful little package of beautiful Christmas fabric charm squares, plus two fat quarters of cheerful red and green.

Christmas gifts from SandiI had to put the Snoopy charm on top because Peanuts is my all time favorite cartoon, and you have to admit, all the characters are just so darn cute and lovable.

Christmas gifts from SandiJust look at all those wonderful colors and prints! But that's not all...

Christmas gifts from Sandi...Sandi also sent me all the necessary parts to make the same JOY stocking that she had made as a giveaway prize which I DID NOT win! Isn't she something? And they are all cut out and ready for me to have the fun of putting them together into a beautiful Christmas stocking.

Christmas gifts from SandiIf you want to see Sandi's finished stocking, just click HERE and take a look. While you're there, you might want to read the comments which were Christmas memories - one allowed each day until Christmas for an entry into the giveaway. You could learn a few things about me if you find my comments! And then click HERE to see who won the JOY stocking - you won't believe it! But make sure you come back because there's more!

Christmas gifts from SandiAlong with all that Christmas loveliness, Sandi tucked into my package two of her own patterns AND the wool to make them! She does such lovely work with wool making penny rugs, which I had never heard of until I found her website. I am very much looking forward to trying my hand at these little projects.

I envision the fat quarters and the charms becoming something fun and festive like maybe a table runner or a wall hanging of some sort. I'll let some ideas stew in my brain and maybe by next fall I'll be ready to pull them out and make something lovely from all this loveliness. Thanks Sandi!

This is my 499th post here at Hooked On Needles, so my next post will announce the winner of my 500th post giveaway. I'm not telling when it will happen, but I will say you still have a little time to sign up for it! Don't wait too long though because I do try to post something here every day! I'll turn off comments on that post when time is up. Good luck!

Happy Stitching!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Let there be light!

Let me start off by saying I have no connection whatsoever with Joann.com or the store. However, when I find a good deal on a product I use and like, I cannot help but recommend it to my readers. So here goes my shameless plug for this fabulous little Christmas gift my husband gave me...

The OttLite task light I got for ChristmasYes, indeed, you saw part of it yesterday when I was showing off my siggy blocks in perfectly bright and natural light, even though I took the pictures at night in my basement which is not known for very good lighting!

The OttLite task light I got for ChristmasIt's small and so very portable. It swivels on its stand. And it's such a pretty shade of blue!

The OttLite task light I got for ChristmasIt's the perfect task light for when I'm sitting at my work table doing some handwork or taking pictures. It stays cool, and it IS cool! It comes in pink or green too!

You can check out this wonderful little Ott Lite at Joann.com by clicking HERE. Before doing that, you might want to google 'Joann.com coupon codes' and see if you can get a coupon code for free shipping. I've always been able to find one!

So that's my little secret for good light even on the darkest, dreariest days. And we all know how important good lighting is for doing any kind of handwork.

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Siggy Blocks are FUN!

Just about a week ago, I plead guilty to not making any New Year's resolutions, and also to jumping right into the new year by joining Rachel's Modern Siggy Swap. Now here it is, one week later, and I have just about completed all my siggy blocks for the swap. I must say, using Rachel's tutorial, putting these cute little blocks together is a snap. But putting 101 of them together does take a little time! They sure make a pretty pile though...

Blocks for Modern Siggy SwapI have a few of them totally completed with the underside corners trimmed and my signature on them, so I've been playing with different arrangements for the finished blocks.

Blocks for Modern Siggy SwapThey look pretty with all the same fabric, but I think they will be really beautiful when all 100 blocks are different, and have different signatures.

Blocks for Modern Siggy SwapThe fabric I used is called Peek A Boo Wavy Plaid in Aqua by Amy Bradley for Moda. I got a whole yard of it from Ronna at Grace Full Creations not too long ago, with no particular project in mind. I just knew the perfect project would eventually present itself, and thanks to Rachel, it did!

Blocks for Modern Siggy SwapMy handwriting is not the greatest, and writing on fabric makes it even worse, but it will be nice to have a quilt made with 100 hand signed blocks from creative people all over the world.

Blocks for Modern Siggy SwapI took these pictures at night in my basement, but the auto flash on my camera never came on. I'll let you in on my secret for good light in my next post, but here's a hint - it was a Christmas gift from my sweet husband!

And don't forget to sign up for my 500th post giveaway. #500 is coming up very soon!

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Projects Completed in 2009 - just for the record!

About a year ago, at the beginning of 2009, I joined the One Project a Month Challenge organized by Kris and May Britt over in Norway. It was a great way to keep myself focused on actually finishing projects, instead of just starting them and moving on to other new projects. I kept a tally of my finishes on my sidebar which you may have noticed throughout the year. Looking back on it, I am quite surprised at how many projects I completed in one year.

Well now it is time to do some new year's cleaning so I think I am going to remove the list from my sidebar. I wanted to preserve it somehow, so I decided to copy it here and link all the projects to the articles I wrote about them. Most of them should have links, but there are a few that I did not write about. Perhaps I'll add those to my list of things to write about in the future.

Would you like to join me on a little peek into my last year of creativity? Here we go...

2009 One Project a Month Challenge

One Project a Month Challenge Badge

January finishes:

February finishes:

March finishes:

April finishes:

May finishes:

June finishes:

July finishes:

August finishes:

September finishes:

October finishes:

November finishes:

December finishes: Looking forward to an equally productive 2010! How about you?

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

500th Post Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered! Click HERE to see who the five lucky winners are.

I can't imagine how my 500th post could be coming up so quickly, but it's true! Number 500 will be sometime this week and I think that calls for just a little celebration.

I'd like to offer some items that I have made as small prizes to 5 people...

500th Post Giveaway prizesA few years ago I was given a whole boatload of discontinued upholstery fabric samples from a friend who worked at a local furniture store. With them I made pillows and tote bags of all sizes. This little one on the right side of the picture was made with one of those long skinny samples, a few grommets and some pretty braided cord. Included with that will be one of my crocheted floor duster covers.

The next prize will be the little pink and green friendship bag that I did not give away in the friendship bag swap, along with the pink and white crocheted floor duster cover.

The other three prizes will be a crocheted floor duster cover.

I may throw in some other little goodies in each package as well.

So what do you have to do to be in the running for one of these prizes? Nothing too hard, I promise! Just leave a comment here on this post with some feedback, advice, idea or constructive criticism about my website. Be open and honest - I can take it! I will draw 5 winners and announce them on my 500th published post, whenever that happens to be.

Please make sure you include an email address in your comment if you choose to comment anonymously. If I can't contact you with an email address, your entry will not be in the drawing.

Thanks to all my regular readers and all those who comment on a regular basis. I appreciate so much that you take the time to leave a few kind words or ask a question or share a thought, and I am so grateful for all the friends I have made through this creative outlet I call Hooked On Needles.

Now to get busy thinking up ideas for the next 500 posts!

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Super Awesome Patchwork Tote Bag

Tote bags come in all shapes and sizes and serve so many useful purposes. The same could be said for patchwork quilts. If you've been following Hooked On Needles for a while, or even if you only pop in every now and then, you might have figured out that I have a thing for tote bags. I do believe it has been mentioned once or twice! I also love quilts or anything that brings together many fabrics and turns them into one beautiful and useful item.

In one of my recent shipments from my new favorite clearance rack place to shop, Connecting Threads, I received a tote bag kit for what was described as a large tote bag that could hold a 13 by 9 inch pan in the bottom of it. It was the first thing I made from that order! I had to see it for myself!

If you want to see it for yourself, keep reading...

Super Awesome Patchwork Tote BagThis fabulous, super huge and very cheerful tote bag is made with two charm packs and some yardage of Connecting Threads' fabric line called Mama's Cottons 2. The kit is no longer available, but if you have even basic experience making bags, I am sure you could figure out how to make this just from looking at the pictures.

Super Awesome Patchwork Tote BagDon't you just love the colors and the prints?

Super Awesome Patchwork Tote BagCould you see this oversize tote bag being used for a day at the beach, or to tote your big afghan project with you to a friend's house?

Super Awesome Patchwork Tote BagThe velcro closure across the top was my own addition to this pattern. I like to be able to close up the top of my project bags to keep things better contained.

Super Awesome Patchwork Tote BagTo stiffen the bottom of the bag, I cut two pieces of mat board to fit and slid them into a simple sleeve made with some of the leftover fabric. I just tucked the open end inside between the two pieces of board so the sleeve could be removed for cleaning.

See the two large pockets on the inside? This bag would also make a great diaper bag for that first-time mom who feels the need to haul everything x2 every time she takes the baby outside the house!

Super Awesome Patchwork Tote BagI think the back is just as pretty as the front.

This kit was fun to work up, and I even have quite a few of the charms leftover to use for some other project. If you're looking for a great place to purchase nice fabric and great patterns put together into complete kits, keep an eye on the Web Specials page at Connecting Threads for some great bargains.

Happy Stitching!

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Friday, January 8, 2010

This Tea Cozy is Mine!

Since I received the lovely tea set that I requested for Christmas, I had to pick out some nice fabric and make a tea cozy to keep it warm. That was my project for today and I am quite pleased with the way it turned out.

My Tea CozyI used the same brown paper bag pattern I had saved from the first tea cozy I made for Kathy which you can see HERE, the one with the M stitched on it, since my tea pot measured just about the same size.

My Tea CozyDon't you just love this fabric? I had purchased a half-yard cut of each of these Heritage House fabrics from Grace Full Creations not too long ago, and I used the yellow background print as the border. I just love the blue in these fabrics!

I also used one layer of insulated batting and one layer of regular batting on each side of the tea cozy, so I think my tea will stay nice and warm on these cold winter days!

What are you doing to stay warm this winter? Anything fun?

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year's Resolutions? Ha!

A mere 7 days into the new year, and am I ever glad I did not make one of the many resolutions to which I had given a moment's thought on New Year's Eve. One of them was No More Swaps...can you believe that? After all the fun I had participating in almost a dozen swaps last year?

Not too long ago, I had seen some yummy pictures like this one on Rachel's P.S. I Quilt website...

Rachel's Siggy Swap Button

I knew she was cooking up something fun with all those delicious fabrics and that fabulous tutorial on making siggy blocks, so I kept my eyes open for news. Today I discovered that sign-ups for this swap had already begun. Ooooh, it was so tempting, but did I really need to get into another swap so soon into the new year? I still have so many projects pending, but they are all just-for-fun projects, no commissioned work right now. Maybe I ought to think about it and check back tomorrow. Ah, what the heck! I jumped in and sent my info. I received a confirmation email and I was in the swap!

Not more than an hour and a half later, I go back to check out the tutorial and the fabric requirements, only to discover that all 100 slots for this swap are filled! Already! Whew! Good thing I didn't wait until tomorrow!

Now to choose some fresh modern fabrics from my fat quarter stash, or perhaps this calls for a trip to a quilt shop I recently heard about down in West Concord, Massachusetts, which is just about a 30 minute drive from my house. Oh, so many temptations!

Do you have any fun, new projects planned for the new year?

Happy Stitching!

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