Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Pouches for the Kellys

I hope everyone is having a very Merry and Joyful Christmas!  Just a quickie post for you today, I'm still away celebrating with my family in New Mexico.

I thought I'd share these pouches that I made as gifts for two young friends of mine.  I made a pouch for their mom for her birthday a few months ago and she seemed to think her daughter might try to steal it, so I thought I'd make the kids their own.  I asked her what their favorite colors were and was told purple and green/yellow, so here's what I came up with out of my stash.  The pouches are bigger than my usual pseudo-cosmetic size but not that big,  probably about 7-8 inches by 9-10 inches.  I just made them using the same process I always do.  I hope they like them!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ornaments for the Boys

I hope as many of you as possible are still enjoying relaxing holiday time with your families.  Or, if your family is anything like mine, that you are enjoying fabulous-but-not-relaxing holiday time.  I thought I'd just drop in a put up a quick post about some ornaments I made this year as Christmas presents since they've now been given to their recipients.

This is Mike and I's third Christmas together and every year I've made him an ornament.  They're usually non-traditional things since he doesn't much go in for normal crafty Christmas decorations.  This year I was casting around for an idea and settled on the Sons of Anarchy.  For those of you who don't know, Sons of Anarchy is a TV drama about a criminal motorcycle gang.  It's actually a pretty good drama, but I don't really watch it.  Mike watches is all the time though, and I thought the juxtaposition of the crazy Sons of Anarchy logo with the jollity of a Christmas ornament was actually entertaining.  The back says Merry Christmas from SAMCRO (sons of anarchy  motorcycle club redwood original).

 I also made up this cute Texas Rangers ornament for my brother-in-law.  I didn't have much for his stocking except a chocolate bar dressed as a penguin, but he's a big Ranger's fan so I thought this would be cute and sort of manly.  Sadly, I was having a disagreement with my sewing machine the day I made these, so the execution isn't perfect, but I think they're cute anyway.

Happy second day of Christmas!  Any turtle doves around?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to stop in and say Merry Christmas to all of you who stop by my small corner of the internet.  I'm so grateful and blessed to be able to spend this holiday with my wonderful family, and I hope you are all able to celebrate in whatever way brings you joy.

I can't believe it's already been seven months since I started blogging, it seems like yesterday when I wrote my first post.  It's been wonderful to start to make bloggy friends; you guys are such a great source of inspiration and creativity!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
All the best-
Shannon, Mike, and the Mutts

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mug Rugs for Santa Ministry

This is my last crafty post before Christmas.  I can't believe it's almost here!

Every year at Advent one of the ministries of the outreach group at our church is the Santa Ministry.  It has a bunch of different parts, but one part is to provide gifts for elderly or disabled nursing home residents without families.  They hang all the names on a tree with an ornament made by the youth group and a list of suggested items for the person.  Usually it's things like clothes or house shoes or pajamas, mostly practical items.  Anyway,  I usually pull a couple of names and each year try to put a little something fun or handcrafted in the present as well as the more useful things.

This year I decided to make mug rugs for them.  I was trying to decide on some simple pretty patchwork when my eye fell on some grandmother's flower garden blocks pinned to my wall.  They've been sitting there since April when I first learned English paper piecing and I'd not decided what to do with them.  You may recall them being an item on my summer UFO list!  Anyway, several are still there but I thought these two made cute and colorful mug rugs.

I hope these are well-liked by their recipients Joyce and Pete and that they can bring a bit of color and fun into their Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Group Christmas Quilt

I wanted to share this quilt with you today; it was my family's first attempt at a group quilt.  My mom taught both my sister and me to quilt, and although Becky doesn't quilt as much as my mom and I do, she has done quite a few projects, including this one.

We were inspired to make this after seeing the fabulous panel quilts at the Dallas Quilt Festival in 2008, and we finished it in 2009.  The idea was that we would take a single picture, blow it up, and each take two parts.  Then when reassembled, they'd make one unified quilt.

We chose this nativity from a copyright-free dover coloring book, and divided it up.  We made our blocks independently with no knowledge of what techniques or colors the others were using.  My mom had the unfortunate task of having to reassemble it, and she said that I didn't do a very good job of staying in the lines.  Not so much a problem artistically speaking, but definitely a problem in terms of assembly of a unified finished piece!

Group Nativity, c. 2009 36" x 51"

I made the top right panel (the monochrome black and white one) and the middle bottom.  I'm sorry I don't have any more detailed pictures. I love that the cow is black in my section and brown in my Mom's sections!  I thought that doing the monochromatic stained glass look in one of my sections would provide something different. I was hoping that by making baby Jesus the only thing colored, that he would draw the focus.  I think it would have worked better if the whole quilt had been that theme, but in this case I think that block doesn't go well with the rest.  This is a really fun quilt up close, we used lots of different fabrics for it: silks, quilting fabrics, home-dec stuff, furry things, etc.  All kinds of small leftovers from other projects, so the surface has lots of texture.  

I hope you enjoy!  Have any of you made group quilts like this?  How'd it go?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fabulous SewHappyGeek Swap Package

You guys, this is so awesome.  I came home Wednesday afternoon to peacefully count lipid droplets in the RPE.  If you don't know what this is, don't worry, it's even more boring than it sounds.  Important, but boring.  Anyhow, it was grey and rainy and I just needed a few hours to count and concentrate.

But when I got home, I checked the mail and a fabulous squishy package awaited me!  It was, as I hoped, my swap parcel from Jenna's SewHappyGeek table runner swap.  The package was all soggy and damp (re, grey and rainy), but the great Katrina had thoughtfully packaged it in plastic inside so all was well.  She sent me the most fabulous set of goodies.

First, the main event, this lovely wall hanging!  It has hangers in all four corners which I think means I get to pick the orientation.  Right now this way is up.

I love the circles and the spirally quilting design and the bright bold colors!  I've always been in awe of sewn circles.  Don't get me wrong, I do lots of curved piecing and curved applipiecing but usually they are freeform curves.  I can't even sew a proper circle (see exhibit A below), much less an appliqued one.  Hers are so even and circular and you can barely see the tiny turned under stitches.  What a thing to come home to!

Exhibit A:  Observe the not-roundness of this wretched ornament I made some years back

And then!  She sent me a fun pillowcase with Merry Christmas embroidered on it!  It has pink accents which is the best thing ever.  Right now, there are no Christmas accouterments in our bedroom, but that's about to change.  Poor Mike already thinks I overdo Christmas.

Katrina also kindly included a bunch of batik and tone-on-tone fabric pieces, definitely my kind of fabric.  These will have a great home in my stash.

Thanks again so much, and to Jenna as well for hosting the swap.  It was like early Merry Christmas to me!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Pouches!

At this point, I've lost track of how many posts about pouches I've done, but here's one more for you guys.  I know at this point no one needs step-by-step instructions, but I thought I'd quickly drop in and show some pictures of the ones I made to put in the stockings of my young cousins and Mike's grandkids.

They're all standard zip-top pouches.  The only one that was a little different was this one which I made out of some strip sets left over from Mike's Lone Star quilt.  Since it's cut on the angle, it was a little hard to put together, but came out fun-shaped.  It's for my cousin Ashley, she's graduating from high school in May and planning to join the Marine Corps, so I hope she likes the patriotic colors.

Here it is in progress and finished

Here are the other four, again, they're just regular (lined) zip top pouches.  On the bottom two I couched on some fun silver yarn I had sitting around.

I hope they are well-liked by their recipients!  How are you guys coming with gift-crafting?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The building is growing!

Right now my house is totally chaotic with pre-Christmas crafting.  There are lots of projects going on but that means little time to blog.  As well many of the projects are for people that might read here, so I'll  wait to post them till after the holidays.

I did want to pop in quickly and give you guys an update on my studio project.  Well, last week the builders came!  I'm very excited!

The builder called me and asked me to mark where I wanted the windows, but when I got out there with the chalk, I got a little carried away and left a bunch of different messages!  I'm sure they think I'm nuts.

Anyhow, this is what it looked like at the end of day one!

Here's what it looked like during day 2- it was very cold and I was thrilled that the guys were still working.

In the foreground of that second picture (which Mike took through the sliding glass doors) you can see the barnyard animals that are part of my stick-to-the-window nativity.

And here it is finished (at the end of day 3).

I'm so grateful to be able to be doing such a big project.  The building is absolutely great, total shout out to my builder Rick Means (awesome guy) at Moore Custom Buildings.

I'm now facing the challenge of getting the electrical and the sheetrock done, both of which are presenting much more of a challenge than the building, so who knows when I'll be able to move in, but I'll keep you guys posted.

Hope you're having fun and not stressing too much!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WIP Wednesday: The purple medallion

It's bee a couple of weeks since I posted about my quilting projects.  While at my mom's I made quite a bit of headway on the remaining steps for my big dragon quilt (last seen here) including blocking it/soaking it/getting rid of the running color/markings, and now I have even got the facing on.  I'm working on some final beading now, and hopefully will have final pictures for you guys soon showing all the quilting and details.

But today, I wanted to show the quilt that's been in my UFO stack the very longest!  I drafted the pattern and pieced this purple medallion over three years ago (ouch!) after seeing this cool book.  It's a pattern often seen in quilting and also cathedral floors, and I was really intrigued.  It was fun to figure out how to draft the pieces.  I paper pieced the medallion part (it's about 48" in diameter) and then it sat in my closet for a year or so.

Sometime thereafter, I set it into a large block, but hemmed and hawed forever about how to finish it.  I settled on putting a bunch of different purple-on-purple pieced blocks on 2 sides and then adding several borders.   Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I got it on my Mom's Innova longarm (which is pretty much awesome).  I haven't gotten very far on the quilting, I spent most of the weekend doing wretched stitch-in-the-ditch.  Most of that turned out horrible, but I was able to start some leafy filler in the borders, and over the Christmas holiday I hope to finish the rest of the quilting.  The piecing isn't too great, mostly because it was one of my very first tops to piece, but I'm excited to being getting it done, especially since I really really love the [bright] colors!

Here are a couple of pictures of it on the longarm, sorry I didn't take any before I loaded it!  (the really terrible navy in the white border is just stabilizing stitch, my stitch-in-the-ditch isn't that bad although you can see some serious bobbles).

I hope you guys are making good progress on some things at least that aren't related to Christmas!  Happy quilting!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Christmas Tree Skirt

I hope you aren't tired of old-Christmas-craft-projects-with-stories yet.  If you are, not to worry, regular quilting and WIPs return on Wednesday!

But today I wanted to share my Christmas tree skirt with you.  Back when I was very young, long before any of us were quilters, my Mom and her friend Susan made a whole bunch of these patchwork Christmas tree skirts.  They're tied, and they each kept one and gave several to the church to sell in the annual bazaar.

Fast forward twenty years, I was ready to have a Christmas tree of my very own for the first time and needed a skirt.  When I asked my mom about the pattern, she found not only the pattern but stacks and stacks of leftover pre-cut squares from all those years ago!  It was so exciting to get to make my Christmas tree skirt with the same fabrics as my mom's. Since I just had the leftovers, I didn't have quite enough of each fabric to make the complete pattern (thus the couple randomly out of place) but I love it all the same!

Here it is under our tree this year

And here's a terrible picture of it under our fabulous traditional NM Christmas tree two years ago.

This is my Mom's version, complete with my little dog Bullett napping on top (he thinks it's like a giant dog bed).

My mom also gave one to my grandmother- here it is at her house with my dad in his typical Christmas Hawaiian shirt a couple of years ago.

So now you've had lots of pictures of my favorite Christmas tree skirts.  I've seen some pretty cute ones around the web though (this one in particular is adorable).  What type of tree skirt do you guys use?

Friday, December 2, 2011

They don't look like ornament scavenging monsters

And yet.  Here are my fabulous-not-so-innocent pups pretending they're angelic canines and haven't been living on a steady diet of precious Christmas tree ornaments all week.  I mean, how can you stay mad at those faces.

Favorite Christmas Ornaments

I got out our Christmas decorations earlier this week and Mike set up the Christmas tree.  This is the first time ever (ever!) I've used an artificial Christmas tree, and I find it pretty upsetting in a first-world-problem-way-bigger-issues-to-worry about kind of way.  It's a lovely tree that was given to us by my uncle, but ever since I was a little girl we have always gone up into the mountains and cut a New Mexico PiƱon Pine for our Christmas tree.  In the past few years, we've done that and brought it back, but five hundred miles with a tree on the car is less than ideal for anyone so we thought we'd skip it this year.  We did go hunt for a tree for my parents, so that tradition was preserved at least, and I was very happy.  It snowed on us while we were traipsing around up in the mountains, so it felt very Christmassy, but as the snow was unexpected we were all quite cold.

Anyway,  that's kind of off-topic from the crafty goodness I wanted to share today, and that's ornaments!  I could ramble nostalgically about almost every single ornament I have (and most of my mom's) but then you would get very bored (just ask Mike).  Suffice it to say that most of our ornaments are handmade "projects" or purchased from artists or commemorate an event and all of them fill me with happy yummy memories.  Here are a small selection of favorites, shown either because I really love them, or because I haven't seen to many like them around the internet.

My mom made these two fun styrofoam and glitter ornaments about 30 years ago.  She was ready to throw them out but I love them so snatched them away!

As with many of my ornaments, the second one has been a little dog-eaten.  And speaking of dogs, here are two dog-angel ornaments I made for my pups a few years back.  Alas, my Angel dog is no longer with us.  In the bottom picture on the left you can also see a fun crocheted glass-ball-coozy.  My mom and I made several of those some Christmases ago.  I  think that's the only one I have left.

The last couple of years I've made Mike (who is not interested in Christmas decorations at all) an ornament reflecting his interests.  In 2009, I made him this double-sided one after he got all excited and yelled, "They have wi-fi!" after seeing the amphitheater/ranger talk symbol at a state park.  

Last year I made him this felt one in honor of his favorite iPhone app, Evernote

Here are a couple crafty ones from when I was a kid.  The angel is entirely made out of different types of pasta.  The next one the simplest version of the infinitely variable styrofoam-ball-crafted-ornament, but I love the sparkly sequins.   The third one is a corn-husk doll ornament that we made back in the late 1980s at a Little House on the Prairie themed Girl Scout Day Camp (I also remember making sunbonnets).  I've always loved her although she's a bit worse for wear.

These two balls were made last year for Mike and me by a good friend of my dad.  In addition to glitter in the stripes, they're also coated in seed beads which give them a really fun texture, and was something I'd never thought of!

I made this one a few years ago out of an old piece of x-ray film and a silver paint pen.  It was for the top of my tree back before I crocheted the angel, but I still love to hang it even though it's now been displaced from the premier spot.

When we were growing up, my Mom used to give my sister and I an ornament every year.  Sometimes it was from an artist with our name/date and sometimes it was a unique ornament from someplace we visited.  One Christmas we went to Mexico, and my mom picked out these little matchbox nativity ornaments.  Sadly, the dog ate mine a couple of years later.  By chance, my sister mentioned this to her mother-in-law Mary Alyce who happened to have a similar matchbox nativity ornament.  I was so stunned when Mary Alyce just sent it to me out of the blue, and now every Christmas I have happy thoughts about her while decorating the tree.  You can also see a cute cross-stitch goose that my mom made.

Here are a few more from when I was a kid.  We made the little pearl-on-wire angels when I was younger, and in the background you can see several of the "yearly" clay ornaments.  At the bottom is an old New Mexico ornament which is one of my current favorites.

Finally, one store-bought ornament to close with. I just have to show you Darth Vader's TIE fighter in case there are any other Star Wars geeks out there.  It plugs into the light string so you can see the little illuminated Darth Vader in there.  This was actually my brother-in-law's but he gave it to me and I love it!

Sorry for the super-long post!  I edited out as many ornaments as I could, but I couldn't resist showing some of them.  I hope you are all enjoying advent and your own holiday preparations!  Any favorite ornament memories or stories out there you'd like to share?