Bucilla Christmas Stocking Kit Modified

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My love for putting these little kits together began several years ago.  My sister-in-law had a few kits that she wanted completed.  Her mom had made similar stockings for her and her siblings and she wished for her children to have them too.  She didn’t have the time to complete them so I took them on.  As I went through the process of completing them I fell more and more in love with the “bling” of them.  It has become a fun challenge to figure out how I can modify them and add to that bling.

This particular stocking is for my newest nephew, Liam.  He just turned a year old and this past Christmas was his first!  What better gift to make him than a lasting, used every year, Christmas stocking.

Bucilla is my favorite brand to work with because of the detail they put in their stockings.  As far as instructions go…Bucilla’s are the clearest that I’ve experienced. You’ll need a little bit of knowledge of embroidery methods and stitches in order to get started.  If you have that, these will be no problem for you to make at all.  Bucilla does provide minimal instruction in the embroidery stitches used for each stocking, I however, did not find them to be the clearest.

NOTE:  There are multiple videos on youtube.com that can help assist you with any how-to stitch instructions you may need.

Instructions:  Bucilla uses a step by step process.  Each step is numbered beginning with 1 and continuing on until the project is finished.  There are usually anywhere between 70 and over 200 steps depending on the difficulty of the pattern.  This one had just over 100.

In the kit are stamped pieces of different colors of felt, you cut the pieces out and decorate them using embroidery stitches, sequins and glass beads.  If you are like me you might want to add lots of extras!  NOTE:  It’s important to cut as you go!  Don’t loose track of which pieces are which numbers or you will have a mess on your hands!  ALSO NOTE:  They don’t send an excessive amount of sequins, glass beads or thread.  You can find these supplies at your local Hobby Lobby or other craft store.

I generally stay pretty close to the original positioning of the pieces though in some cases I have changed things up to better represent the likes of the owner of the stocking.  Some of those changes have been more laborious than others.  You can remove step marks by using a needle to gently scrape the unwanted lines off of the felt.

This is pretty much where the similarities end.  The main thing that makes my stockings different from “the pattern” is the actual stocking.  The Bucilla “pattern” allows for a simple and thin piece of felt to be cut for the back of the stocking (usually white felt).  The felt stretches with the weight of what is in the stocking creating holes.   That’s not O.K. with me!  I want my stockings to last for a long time!

I make a lined stocking with cotton fabric and attach the decorated front on it with a decorative blanket stitch.  This will prevent the stocking from stretching.  It’ll hold up for a long time  Every child dreams of stuff and overflowing stocking hanging over the mantle, waiting for them on Christmas morning!

I quilt the back layer of the stocking (inserting a piece of batting between the layers) to give it padding and extra strength.  Then I create a lining and attach a hanging tab.

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I will lay the tab gently and carefully in between the two layers and sew it in strategically so that the stocking will hang facing straight out off the mantle.  I like to make those tabs plenty long so there is room to let your stocking stuffers overflow out of the stocking.

The pattern for this stocking had the stocking name embroidered on the back of this large ornament hanging off the corner.  I didn’t like that, so I used sequins to write out his name across the top of the stocking.  You can use a pencil and write the name on the felt to help keep your lines straight, centered and even.

The last step is to blanket stitch the sequin covered stocking to the front of the cotton stocking.

Blanket Stitch all the way around!

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Final Product

Here is a picture of some of the other stockings I’ve completed in the past.  (My sister-in-law completed the stockings and attached the 5 on the right of the mantle-I simply did the felt tops on those.)   Even full, they will still hang facing out into the room because of how the tabs are applied.

There are so many memories wrapped up in these little stockings!  I’ve customized several of these stockings to fit the lives of each of my family members.  I love getting together every year with my family and looking them over!  They are holding up GREAT over the years!

Credit:  My thanks go to my sister-in-law who gave me the first love of this project!  She helped so much in creating the design and look of these stockings back in the beginning!  I don’t think I would have ever tackled a task like this without her encouragement and support!  Love ya, Sister!

I do make these stockings for others.  If you are interested, send me a message and we can chat about how to have some of your own!

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Quilting On the Go

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Recently I started a job out of the home.  I find myself struggling to find chunks of time to simply delve into my latest project.  Our family tradition around Christmas has always been to take some time to visit family during the holidays.  This year when we made our final plans, I thought…”Why not take my project with me?”

I’ve been working on this Double Wedding Ring quilt since April, whenever I can find time  to get busy on it.  It was meant to be a wedding gift for my son and his new bride back in July.  If you knew me, you’d know…I don’t like having projects go unfinished.  I’m known for pushing through and finishing.  This one has been waiting for a long time in my book.

The obvious advantage to being home is that I have a designated place in my house where I don’t have to pack up and put away.  My projects can stay as I leave them for as long as I need.  Just as this one has.

(Here you see a couple of helpers.  One of my very best friends who helped me a ton with cutting this quilt!  She owns a Go Cutter and it saved my life 100 times over during this project!  Being able to cut so many pieces at a time was a huge time saver and I can’t image ever getting it done as quickly as I did without it!  Here is a link to the  Go Cutter I used with the 11 1/2″ Double Wedding Ring Die Cut template that I used.  The other is my son.  He was helping me balance a disappearing 9 patch panel for the back of a T-shirt quilt I was working on.  You can see my DWR on the design wall right beside him.)

When thinking about what I’d need I simply worked my way through the project in my head while I walked around my sewing space.  Thinking of rulers and seam rippers, rotary cutter and matt, threat, etc.  You know that drill, I’m sure.  I have this handy-dandy trunk (pictured above-pink of course!) and it worked perfectly for traveling with all my supplies.  I had my trunk loaded down with everything in it (including my iron) with exception to my machine, the Go Cutter, and my extension table which I was not willing to do without!

My husband’s parents have a perfect dining room which proved to be a GREAT space for me to spread out in.  I had everything I needed (with exception to my design wall).  It didn’t take me long to figure out I was going to have to be very organized in keeping track of my blocks since I couldn’t just throw them up on the wall and leave them there.

I began labeling each of the blocks (I was working this quilt in columns instead of rows-normally I’d label Row 1 Block 1, etc.) and stacking them in their respective “Columns” around the dining room.  When labeling and stacking I was careful to pin them to the top cresent of each block.  I did not want do deal with geting things twisted and then having to struggle to figure out which block went where.

Off Topic Bonus #1:  Most Helpful Tool In Creating a Double Wedding Ring Quilt

I did want to mention my very favorite tool for this project.  This again is thanks to my friend pictured above for this very helpful hint.

Yep, that’s right!  It’s a large tweezers.  Who would have thought, right?  When sewing the curves of a double wedding ring you find your curved edges opposing each other nearly all the time.  This can become very frustrating.  It requires a TON of patience!  These tweezers helped me keep my layers of fabric in line even though their curves were moving in opposite directions!  It by far wins my “Tool of the Project” Award-if there were such a thing!  Try it!  I’m convinced that this should be in your bin of “must haves”!

Off Topic Bonus #2:  Use your Ironing Board for more than just Ironing!

When sewing together the columns of this quilt and working with the opposing curves their weight quickly becomes a problem.  The heavier they become the more they pull and stretch the fabric.  This keeps your seams from lining up appropriately.  I find that using my ironing board to help hold that weight in front of my machine gives me a BIG advantage! Much like a little shelf.  It can make reaching a little awkward (I slide the board under the table slightly to make reaching easier.  I usually stand when I sew so this proved to be very beneficial for me!  (P.S.  I was working off a raised table which was counter top height.  It was perfect for standing and sewing!  Just in case you are wondering, I did not have any problems with cutting at that height.  My husband has promised to raise my regular height sewing table at home when we get there!  I can’t wait!  Being able to stand is such a benefit for me!  I love not having to mess with a chair getting up and down and up and down, especially when ironing frequently.)

Off Topic Bonus #3:  3 Strikes and You are OUT! Rule

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Let me just reiterate the difficulty in the project.  I definitely had to apply the 3 Strikes Rule here!  I don’t know about you, but when I’m working on a project and begin to get tired/frustrated often that is when I make mistakes.  My rules is…when you make your 3rd mistake (or in my case…have made 1 big one and you know it’s “over”) you take a break.  This picture was taken as I was assembling this column.  If you look closely you can see that I sewed the edge of the cresent onto the wrong edge of the center piece, thus creating a circle-STRIKE 1.  Then when I removed the cresent I realized I seam ripped the wrong seam- STRIKE 2.  I had to completely remove the cresent and start over at that point.  It was grueling!  HaHa!  Usually, my “break” means…no more until tomorrow.  That keeps me from becoming overwhelmed with the project and giving up!  Even the best of us mess up, right?!?

Bringing my project on vacation with me was totally worth it!  I was able to plug away logging more than 40 hours of work time there!  I’d already had over 30 hours logged in on this project when I arrived and I am excited to announce that this queen sized, Double Wedding Ring top is complete!

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I’m planning to hand quilt it.  I’m super excited about learning this age-old craft!  I’m sure I’ll be blogging out that too!

This quilt is definitely, hands down, the hardest project I’ve tackled yet.  Patience and moving slowly were key elements and even still there are points that are not exactly lined up.  That defines the quilting world right?  Quilts are hand-made and will hopefully be treasured forever.  This design is such an oldie and a goodie!  That’s why I feel I must hand quilt it I guess.  I just can’t seem to stomach the idea of spending so much time and effort in getting it together and then just throwing it up on a machine to quilt.

Credits:

I’d like to give a HUGE THANK YOU! to my family who picked up the slack helping with meals and various other tasks so that I could sew so much!  I’m grateful for your support and love EVERY Day!  What a blessing you are to me!

 

 

Baby McDaniel

Some of my favorite quilts to make are for my repeat families!  It is so fun to have them bring back a quilt I made for them in the past and ask me to re-create a similar but different quilt for baby #2!  This one was no exception!  I love the McDaniel family so much and it was my pleasure to reuse the same pattern, and in some cases even the same fabrics for this sweet little boy that would soon be joining their family!

Have I mentioned before how much I love using 2 1/2″ squares?!?!  Couple that with a sweet classic 9 patch with cornerstones and you have a pattern that’ll scream heirloom for a lifetime!

I happened to have some leftover fabric from their first go-around so we picked and pulled from and added some new fabrics to it in order to create a similar look with a different spin.  Baby #1 had a world traveler feel, a Caribbean getaway touch to it.  We kept several of those prints for Baby #2 and even stole the “Map” motif but spun it into an airplane/navigation theme.  After removing the red colored prints and adding in a few aqua greens then keeping several of the browns and airplane prints we had a winner!

I completed this package with a pillow sham to match for each little one…

…and a little woobie-‘cuz those are the best little receiving blankets EVER!

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This reveal was so fun for me!!!  This Mom knew exactly what was coming and she was still surprised!

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Building the Back of A T-Shirt Quilt

 

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Here is the front of this finished product.  I thought it would be fun to talk about the process of building a custom back for a project like this one.  So, we are going to flip it around and start there.

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Normally for my base price I finish the back with a solid, 108″ wide fabric.  This one was special because the owner wanted to use the themed logo fabric for her favorite college team.  In this case, that college team is the school that both her children are now alumni to – making those often worn T-shirts an heirloom of memories for years to come.

The challenge with using the logo fabric is that it’s width is  only 45 inches.  You have some choices to make because obviously, modification is necessary…

  1.  One could simply sew together the fabric to make it “90-ish” inches wide knowing full well it is near impossible to line up the print perfectly. That design is now interrupted by  an obvious seam right up the middle of the whole thing.
  2. Create a fun and visual panel to break up the design of the logo and widen the back in the process.  This is obviously my choice! 😉

I measured off the length I’d need of the main fabric for the back, keeping in mind that I need an extended length in order to mount the back of this beast onto the long-arm machine.

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Then I created a 9 patch with 10″ blocks and cut it into 4 equal pieces.  It took 5 of them in order to give me 20 squares I’d need after they were cut into fourths.

I had some scraps left from the front so here you see I chose a Disappearing 9 Patch design with borders to show off this fun college fabric!

The fun thing about a disappearing 9 patch is that the options are limitless!  I use this little trick all the time because every time-they look different.  Sometimes I place them 3 across, sometimes only 2 (like this time).  Sometimes I use 8″ blocks, sometimes 4″ blocks…it all depends on what size I’m working with and where my creative bent takes me.

I turn them all different directions when I put them back together until I come to a “pattern” of sorts that I like.

Then it’s time to sew them together into a long column.

I will often lay it on top of the “top” of the quilt to make sure my length is sound.  Stick a border on each side, the top and the bottom and voila- THE BACK IS BORN!

Each one is different and they are all fun!

Eye Spy Owen

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I love custom designs!  I hunt for patterns to create and I never seem to find exactly the right one until I create it myself.  That’s what happened with Eye Spy Owen.  This one is an extra special Baby Pack* for me.  Yep-you guessed it!  What better name for this special custom creation!   It has been delivered to my cousin who will soon get to wrap sweet baby Owen in it!  (I can’t wait to hear he has arrived safe and happy!)  What a blessing to think of them and pray for them so often during the creation of this package.

In the planning stages of a quilt I always like to interview the owner of the product.  My key words out of that conversation were; puzzle pieces, animals, blue and green. She explained to me that she wanted her toddler to be able to be interactive with this sweet blanket!  She wanted to call animals to him and dreaming about his responses to her I could hear it in my head,  “Where’s the duck?  Where is a frog?  Can you finIMG_8536d the zebra?”

She found a picture of a pattern that she liked on pinterest (an obvious source to spur great ideas) which gave me a visual of what she was thinking (of course-I can’t do anything like
the picture).  From there she allowed my creativity to go!  SO FUN!

So, I drew it up, colored it in and sent it to her-just to see what her response would.  After that it was a blur!   I started buying fabric.  Since my options were limitless, I admit I went a little crazy.  I think I used all but two of what I bought so at least I didn’t have a ton unused!  Most of what I found are Michael Miller’s Line, Zoologie, Zoologie Mini, and Oragami.  A few other and we were ready to take off!  So…

Off we go!  It came together really quickly!  I love working with 2 1/2″ squares and strips so this was right up my ally!  I was having a blast!  Before we knew it the pieces were all coming together.

This may possibly be the most time consuming baby quilt I’ve ever done!  You are about to look at a total of 45 1/2 hours of love all wrapped up for sweet baby Owen to enjoy!

Most of the time is in the quilting, I will admit.  I have just gotten a new machine with an 11 1/2 inch throat space and I feel invincible in the world of quilting.  I used the dual feed and turned that baby quilt approximately every 2″.  Yep…you read that right!  24 hours of solid quilting went into this quilt.

I absolutely LOVE how it turned out and I would never ask for a different result!   I could NOT be happier!

Along with the quilt, I sent 2 small blankets -I like to call them Woobies.  Makes sense right?  Most babies attach to that certain favorite blanket-this one is perfect for that!  Soft on the back, as I always use minky and they are coordinating to the quilt on the front.  There is no batting, so they are not near as heavy as a quilt. This makes them easy to launder and easy to carry everywhere!  It covers a car seat for cold weather and is not too warm in the blazing sun.  It is perfect for all occasions.  And Bonus!  You get two…so when one is in the laundry…you have a BACKUP!

The really exciting thing about these is that you can never be sure exactly what those Woobies will look like.  Why?  Because I use the “leftovers” of the fabrics from the quilt.   I’m never sure what they will look like until I’ve finished the quilt. It all depends on how much fabric I started with, how much I used, how I cut it, and what is left.   These blankets end up to be right around a yard in size.  (Approx. 36″x 36″ – 34″x 42″ ish).  I will often back them with whatever minky I have around so long as it fits in with what you’ve got going on.  (Unless you special order extra minky-in which case, I’d order appropriately).  The Bonus is mine this time:  I don’t end up with near as much left over scraps of fabrics-which makes my husband very happy!  HaHa!

Here is the pillow for this Baby Pack that fits right in.  It’s perfect for a rocking chair, resting in the crib, or even a toddler bed for later.  So much fun!!!

*A Baby Pack includes:  A Quilt, 2 Woobies,  and a Pillow (sizes optional, or a pillow case for older use).

5 FAQ’s about Quilting

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There are several questions that frequently come up so I thought I’d start jotting them down.  If this spurs on questions for you…feel free to drop me a line-I’d love to make an attempt at addressing them for you.

  1.  Why are quilts so expensive?    For multiple reasons really-Cost of Materials being one.  a Simple Basic Baby Quilt usually costs between $80-$120 just for materials.  Seems crazy I know…I always try to find coupons and I try really hard not to pay full price for supplies-but I’m telling you…it really adds up.    Time is another big contributor to the cost.  I can spend anywhere between 10 and 45 hours on a quilt.  Factors that contribute would be: difficulty of the pattern, whether I’m stabilizing or not, how intricately I quilt it and the size of the project.  If you want to make $10/hours (which is a very small amt. for a quilting craft) your are looking at potentially a $100-$450 just in time:  not counting any of the supplies used.  Long-Arm Rental-If I’m working on a large project I also have to include a long-arm fee.  My gal charges a fee/hour for me to use her long-arm.  If often takes me appx. 4 hours on the long-arm to complete a project.  See-It just ADDS UP! 
  2. What materials go into a quilt besides fabric?  Batting (the “stuffing” between the layers of the quilt).  I typically use “Warm and Natural”-100% non-bleached cotton.  I buy it in bulk-a whole roll at a time and try to use a coupon with a sale price if possible.  A standard cost would be around $20-$25 worth for a project.    For a T-shirt quilt your adding to that list of materials the stabilizer.  It is generally about $2.99 a yard and each t-shirt needs to be stabilized before it can be added into the quilt.  Don’t forget the thread both for quilting and for the piecing process.
  3. Where do you buy fabric? I typically buy fabric locally where I can take advantage of sale prices as well as coupons.  I also appreciate being able to support my local small businesses.   Occasionally I will purchase fabric from fabric.com (which I’ve been extremely happy customer) as well as fatquarter.com (I’ve also had good experiences).  
  4. Do I have to quilt on a Long-Arm?  Absolutely NOT!  I usually only quilt very large projects on a long arm, however, quilting can be done on a standard machine fairly easily.  I simply purchased a walking foot attachment* (Helps the machine feed fabric from the top as well as bottom).  I found that quilting straight lines makes it simple and easy to quilt with a walking foot.  I will say, larger projects will take patience and the larger the project, the more patience you will need.  😉  
  5. Where is a good place to find tutorials?  Crafty.com is my very favorite place to go for help!  They have a multitude of different options for the beginning quilter who is just starting out as well as classes for the seasoned quilter!  It’s all online video based, you can see other people questions and Craftsy’s responses!  Craftsy runs their site in such a way that you can watch the classes at your own convenience, repeat and speed ahead if you need to.  You can also post your own finished product as well as see that of others!  Their classes run from about $9.99-$40.00 or so.  They do run sales, so keep an eye out!  My favorite things about their site is that I have my own account where I can easily see what I have, what I’d wish for and their search engine works great!  Check it OUT!  You will love it!

*A Walking Foot can usually be purchased at your local sewing machine store.  In my experience, if they service machines you can find walking feet for your machine.

Let’s Talk T-Shirt Quilts

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T-Shirt Quilts are definitely a different kind of quilting.  A lot of quilters out there would rather not even touch them.  I’m learning to find joy in the heirloom potential of a good quality, memory boosting, t-shirt quilt.

 

IMG_8556     I have yet to produce two t-shirt quilts that are the same.  So, what goes into deciding what a t-shirt quilt will look like?  I usually lay out the shirts (before I begin cutting anything!)  I want to know which “prints” are similar sizes.  I’m looking to find which ones I can turn up and which ones need to be square.  Keeping my eyes wide open for the spectacular “center piece ” that stands out and deserves to be showcased.

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Once I’ve sorted and decided on sizing and a rough order, I begin with the widest row.  I’m going to cut each shirt and stabilize it.  There is a whole additional step to making a t-shirt quilt that many skip – stabilizing.  In my mind, if this step is skipped it will affect the durability of what you will hold dear.

Once a shirt is stabilized properly I hang it on my design wall.  The quilt will continue to build with each shirt that is added. I may decide to shift the rows around or create a block of quilts.  My goal is to keep the rows similar in size and ultimately the same width.  Sometimes keeping it all in order means being creative with cutting as well as placement.  I might turn a narrow image up or use it to make a visual break.

Sashing is also very important.  Sashing is the strips of fabric between the shirts.  It holds everything together and I believe is what makes your quilt last a lifetime.  It just keeps everything grounded.  T-shirts are very flexible and vary in quality so stabilizing and using sashing reduce the “wonkiness” of IMG_8608your end product.

Once the sashing is all in place and the border is on the fun really begins!  We nowIMG_8615 have one big quilt top.  So, we will select a back.  There are several options here, one is using an extra wide fabric (108″).  This is the least expensive as well as much less timely.  For this quilt I used a grey backing.

Sandwiching is the process of layering the back with batting (the fluffy stuff inside the quilt) and top.  Next we mount it on the long-arm frame.

IMG_8671     This machine (much like a regular sewing machine-only larger) has it’s own benefits.  It’s throat space is much long than your traditional sewing machine which allows you to be able to reach much further into your project.  The machine is mounted on a platform that is movable by bearings under that platform.  The handles allow you to push and pull the machine over the quilt mounted on poles.  Stitching on 18″ at a time, eacIMG_8670h pass is completed.   The quilt is rolled up as a scroll and sewing left to right you begin again.  Until finally, row by row,  it is complete and it is ready to be unrolled!  My favorite part is seeing how the quilted pattern gives it a finished look that is always dynamite!

IMG_8675  The only steps left are to square that bad boy up and add the binding.  Binding simply finishes the edges of the quilt, holding the whole thing together.  What a joy it was (and always is)  to see the face of the recipient of any project I make!

 

I know that this quilt will last a long time and the memories from those shirts will stay alive every time it is used!