Sunday, October 30, 2011

Let the Counting Begin! Number Squares

A disclaimer to start:
This is not my original idea. I was inspired by a project I saw in my copy of Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes + Projects for Your Creative Child by Meg McElwee. (A book I highly recommend for anyone looking for ideas of things to make for little people.) I loved her idea of making a set of fabric numbers to play with, but wanted to play with the idea a little and make it a bit more my own.

I decided to make "chenille" squares. As they get washed and dried they will look more and more chenille-y. 

Each number I've done so far, has a different chenille effect. I've been trying different things with them to see what I think is the best effect for future gifts for people.

These numbers are great for a variety of different games you can play with the little people in your life.

My daughter is so young, we're just going to focus on naming the numbers for now. But when she is older, we can start having her hide the number I say, do something associated with the number (i.e., jump six times, find two pennies, etc.), place the right amount of buttons under the number, etc. Oh, I shouldn't forget to mention, once your child has mastered 1 through 9, you can add the number 0 and start working on ten's and larger numbers. 

These are sooooo easy to do. You can use whatever materials you have on hand, but I stuck with quilting weight cotton for the square itself and a knit for the numbers. Because I wanted a chenille look on the squares, I wanted a woven fabric, but something that wouldn't be too loose of a weave. And for the numbers, I wanted nice clean edges that wouldn't fray, so I used some turquoise swimsuit fabric I had in my stash.

Now, when it came to the cutting part, I cheated. I have an AccuQuilt Studio and I used it to cut charms for the squares and all the numbers. Go ahead and cut your own squares and numbers. Or for those who don't enjoy the cutting part, you could purchase a kit here.

Step One: 
Glue your number on to your stack of squares using a glue stick and stitch around that number through all the layers. 

Step Two: 
Mark the lines where you want your stitching to go, and stitch along those lines. 

I use a hard wooden tool to do this when using quilting cotton. I like that I don't have to worry about if the pen, chalk, or whatever isn't going to wash out.
I "jumped" over the numbers themselves.

Step Three: 
Trim your loose threads and cut your fabric. It is important to not cut the bottom layer, because that's the layer that is holding everything together.

Other things I learned along the way:

a) If your rows of stitches are further apart, it is easier to get the scissors in and cut.

b) You get a better chenille-y look if you cut with the grain, but you get a lot less threads to trim if you stitch and cut along the bias. 

c) It's a lot easier to stitch around the numbers if you can see what you are doing! It is possible to do this with a regular foot. I did. It just means you're lifting the foot a lot to see where you are. Can't wait until I have a clear applique foot!

Guess this counts as my WIP for this week, since I still have 5 through 9 and 0 to do. 
Check out what Lee and everyone else are working on here:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday--A completion? Maybe not

I'm really, really happy that I decided to go with the prairie points on this pillow for my niece, I think they are really cute and set off the 3D pinwheels nicely. 

With my AccuQuilt Studio I was able to cut out the triangles needed for HSTs, but I sewed them on their two short seams to make my prairie points. Not your typical method, but the results are really nice looking. That is until you get to sewing the layers of fabric around the edges of this pillow. . . 
Don't mind my daughter's bum in the bottom left corner. I was going to just crop her out,
but the smiling jack-o-lantern makes me smile, so I decided to leave it.

I have a little issue on one of my corners. Do I tear it all out and fight with my machine over the multiple layers again? (I don't get my new machine until the end of November) Do I tear it out and wait for the new machine which does a better job on multiple layers to fix it? Or, do I accept that it's not perfect and my niece is young enough that she's going to love it even with a botched corner? I do have a lot of other Christmas sewing to get on with and can't hold everything off for the better machine. . .

I have soooo much more I want to share with you all, but alas it is mostly secret Christmas sewing going on right now. I wouldn't want people to see what they are getting in advance on here so you are missing out for the time being. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


Face Paint Label Reads, “Not to be used on children under 12." Yet the packaging is covered with images of young children.

Seriously marketers, you should be ashamed to plaster your product with misleading pictures hoping that the parents who are purchasing the product are just too busy to read the small print. 

Source: Environmental Defence
More info in this article titled The Scariest Thing You'll See This Halloween (complete with a couple recipes for homemade alternatives:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Make your own alphabet magnets!

If you want to skip the rant head down to the pictures for the tutorial.

Call me crazy, but I'm always leery about what nasty chemicals are lurking in the toys at the dollar store. (Maybe because I keep finding lead in the necklaces that can be purchased there? They are meant for children; I just don't understand it.) Don't get me wrong, I [heart] dollar stores for many, many things. Just not really cheap children's toys, because they are cheap for a reason.

I went on a search to find my daughter alphabet magnets that I'm okay with her playing with (sticking in her mouth, etc.). I found not one single option that met my standards.

A) I wanted both uppercase and lowercase letters--call me crazy, but if your child is only seeing this as an E, they may have an issue understanding that both "E" and "e" are the same letter and it will likely take them longer to learn how to read; and

B) I didn't want it to be plastic.

My solution, make my own. And it's super easy, so I thought I'd share how I did it with you too.

I used acrylic felt to cut both the 1.5" letters and the 2.5" squares (104 squares to be exact). you could use a different fabric, I just found the felt to be pretty forgiving and really easy to work with. I used a basic stitch to secure one letter to one piece of felt.

I also want to mention, I cheated on cutting out the letters which is probably one of the major factors to thinking this was such and easy thing to do. I have an AccuQuilt Studio cutter and two alphabet sets (uppercase and lowercase). You could print the alphabet out on paper and use that to cut it out if you don't mind spending the time. Or, if you are willing to wait for the post, we could do the cutting for you. Our etsy shop has the entire lower and uppercase alphabet available at a very affordable price here.

I then grabbed a back piece and lined it up, right sides facing out, and stitched around three of the sides.

I then slide a magnet into the pocket I'd just created.

And then stitch the last side closed and you are done.

If you end up making some of these for a special little person in your life, I'd love to see what you've done! Leave a comment or send me a note.

I'm off to finish the other forty some odd letters I need to stitch on to the squares!

Don't forget to check out what other people are working on at Lee's WIP Wednesday:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TSX Quilt

Do you remember this quilt?

I have a few blocks done. But, it kind of got pushed off to the side as I work on finishing a few other things. Because the quilt for yourself always does, doesn't it? But that doesn't mean I've stopped thinking about it. 

I was perusing Leah Day's Flicker photos last night and this one caught my eye:

She calls it radio static, but it reminds me of equities on the stock market with all those peeks and valleys. I think this may be how I have to quilt this quilt. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

WIP Wednesday--it's all about stockings

What have I been working on this week? Stockings, stockings, and more stockings.

Don't you think this one will be cute when finished?

 With this as the cuff?

Have you heard about Stockings for Kids? Purple Panda Quilts is running a stocking drive for foster children. Check out her blog here for more info. 

I love, love, LOVE the program they have for babies at our library. It's called "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." That 30 to 45 minutes is enough to wear my daughter out really well and she becomes such a great napper! Today I took advantage of her 1 1/2 hour long nap and cut out all of these letters for our Etsy store. I still need to work on my photography skills, but I'm glad I was able to get them cut out today.

Whoops! Looks like I flipped one by mistake. Funny that I'm just noticing it now.
Ah well, I can fix it tomorrow when it is light out again. What other fabrics do you think would make cute stockings? I'm thinking maybe flannel Brown Bear stockings would be cute too.

Check out what everyone else is working on here: and