This week started with me thinking I was ahead. I was getting things done! My blog would be scheduled, writings would be written, samples would be sewed, and more. And really, a lot of things did get done. (I finished a quilt, for goodness' sake!) But I also have plans that remain unfinished or even unstarted. And yes, I did just make up that word.
In the midst of it, I've been thinking about writing a post about how to do it all (or not). This isn't that post, but I would love to hear your own personal thoughts or plans for accomplishing much without pushing yourself to the brink.
And for now, I'll be choosing pretty floss colors for a mega project that may surprise you... stay tuned in!
By Mollie Johanson at Friday, September 19, 2014
In cooler seasons, my family likes to eat a lot of soup. And leftovers. Although, leftovers know no season. For casual meals, folks sometimes grab a plate or bowl and, rather than sit down at the table, we'll sit near the fireplace. Since dishes can get very warm, you'll often see a hot pad held under the dish. Which is fine. I'm good with all of this.
But why not make those hot pads pretty and matching?
This project solved two problems for me. The first is the pretty factor. The second is that I've been wanting to try out making some quilt blocks without a giant project commitment. Fall warm pads took care of these!
I'm calling them warm pads because they only have one layer of batting inside, and I really, really don't want you to remove things from the oven with them. But they are perfect for a layer of protection between your chicken noodle soup bowl and your hand.
Fabric (scraps plus 6-1/2" square for the back)
Batting (6-1/2" square)
Sewing tools: Scissors, pins, sewing machine, iron, needle, thread, rotary cutter, mat and ruler.
You can use any 6-inch finished block (6-1/2" when it's just the block) for the front. I'm using a combination of maples and some other designs, but I'm doing them all in the same grouping of fabrics. Here's how the maple block goes together:
From Fabric A (squirrels) cut:
2 3-1/4" squares
2 2-1/2" squares
From Fabric B (burgundy) cut:
2 3-1/4" squares
3 2-1/2" squares
1 4-1/2" x 1-1/4" rectangle
Make the larger squares into four half-square triangles and trim them to 2-1/2".
Trim one of the Fabric A small squares into two triangles. Sew them onto the sides of the Fabric B rectangle as shown. Trim to a 2-1/2" square.
Arrange the pieces to form a maple leaf, sew the rows, then sew the rows together. Ta-da!
By the way, I've used 1/4" seams throughout, and if you're new to this patchwork thing, be sure to check out my review of the free Craftsy class Piece, Patch, Quilt!
Grab your 6-1/2" squares of backing fabric and batting. Layer them with the front and back right sides together, and the batting on top. At least, this is the way my sewing machine does the best. You may find that having the batting on the bottom of the stack is better.
Pin and sew around the edges, leaving an opening for turning. And be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end. Trim the corners before you turn it right side out.
After you've turned it right side out and made sure those corners are poked out nicely, sew the opening closed with ladder stitch.
To hold it all together and add some fun detail, thread a needle with perle cotton and knot the end. To hide the knot, I like to go in through the seam, making sure that I'm not catching any fabric. Then you can gently tug the knot into the middle of the warm pad.
Stitch some quilty lines of running stitch, then be sure to bury the knot(s) between the layers.
Then make a bunch for your whole family or friends when they come over! I've got maples all over the place and I might even end up making more.
The best part is using these. So, get a bowl...
And fill it with something warm and yummy!
When I think of cute soft toys, the first person who comes to mind is Abby Glassenberg. She has an amazing talent for creating adorable softies to hug and love, as well as passing that talent on to others through her blog and shop. In her book Stuffed Animals: from concept to Construction, Abby shares just about all you need to know to get making soft toys. Her designs are as thoughtful as she is, and I simply love her passion!
I'm quite giddy to say that she has designed something special for this month of the flying squirrel here on Wild Olive. I squealed when she sent me the pictures! And now, I'll turn it over to Abby.
Flying squirrels make excellent softies, mostly because they’re so cute! Here’s a simple pattern to make your own flying squirrel. You can sew him in about an hour and I think you’ll agree that this is one huggable squirrel.
The finished squirrel is 13 inches long (from the tip of the ears to the tail).
First, gather some materials:
1/4 yard of light gray fleece (you could also use flannel or a felted wool sweater)
a small scrap of dark gray felt for the feet and ears
a small scrap of pink felt for the nose
a pair of 8mm safety eyes
black embroidery floss, 12 inches
fiberfill stuffing, 1 ounce
coordinating all-purpose thread
an embroidery needle
a pair of small scissors
chalk or a disappearing fabric marker
Download the Flying Squirrel Templates.
Let’s get started! First, cut everything out.
From light gray fleece cut:
• 2 Bodies
• 2 Heads
• 2 Tails (reversing 1)
From dark gray felt cut:
• 4 Feet
• 2 Ears
From pink felt cut:
• 1 Nose
Transfer all of the markings to the pattern pieces using chalk or a disappearing fabric marker. Note that a 1/4 inch seam allowance has been added to all of the pattern pieces that require it. Cut on the solid lines and sew on the dotted lines.
Now, we’ll sew the tail. Place the two tail pieces right sides together. Pin. Stitch around the tail, leaving the straight edge open as marked. Clip the curves and turn the tail right side out. Stuff the tail lightly, leaving the inch closest to the opening unstuffed.
Next, prepare the face. Poke a small hole for each eye using the tip of a pair of small scissors. Insert the safety eyes and slide the washers on the backs of the posts until they’re secure.
Whipstitch the nose in place. Stitch the mouth with black embroidery floss using backstitch.
Flip one ear over so that you have two mirror image ears on your worktable. Fold each ear along the fold line and press. Place the ears on the face, folded side down, as marked, and pin in place.
It’s time to sew and stuff the head! Place the two head pieces right sides together and pin well. Sew around the entire head, catching the raw edges of the ears in the seam. On the back of the head toward the bottom pinch one layer of fabric and cut a small slit. Clip the curves and turn the head right side out through the slit.
Stuff the head firmly, being sure there are no hollow spots or lumps. Ladder stitch the hole closed.
Now let’s sew up the body. Place the feet on the right side of one body piece, as marked. Pin in place. Place the tail on the body piece and pin. Now place the second body piece on top, right sides together, and pin well. Stitch around the body, leaving the opening at the neck as marked.
Clip the curves and turn the body right side out. Ladder stitch the opening closed.
We’re almost done! Place the head on the body, as marked. Pin from the back to hold it in place. Ladder stitch the head to the body, going down the marked curve and then across the neck portion of the body. You might want to stitch around twice just to be sure the head is secure stitched in place.
That’s it! Give your flying squirrel a big hug!
Thank you so very much, Abby! Is it safe to say that everyone needs a flying squirrel in their life? I have a feeling that as soon as I make one, I'll need to make three or four more, because folks at my house will be fighting over them.
Be sure to visit While She Naps for more from Abby Glassenberg.
If you have a blog, or even if you just read blogs, you know that great photos can make all the difference. The same is true if you have an online shop. There are different types of photography, for example portraits, events, products, etc. for craft blogging, I do a lot of step-by-step photography, which can be a lot like product photography.
The goal is to show very clearly what an item is or what you're supposed to do in a particular part of a project. To put the focus on the materials or product, I like a clean background and a well-lit shot. Some folks do this with big studio lights, large backgrounds, or even light boxes, which, I'll admit, would be amazing to have, especially for late-night work.
Let me show you what my photo studio setup looks like...
This is my front door, some art paper, a school project board, and my photo assistant. I have to believe that even if I had a fancy set up, she would sit in the middle of that too.
By relying on natural light, I have limited hours that I can take my photos, and usually that's between 10am and 3pm, though that's about the widest range. I like bright overcast days so i have light without the intensity of the sun. Other areas in my house have different lighting, so sometimes I move, but the setup remains very similar.
Going in a little closer, this is what I've got. A sheet of art paper on the floor, with the project board reflecting light. Sometimes I place this board as a background, and sometimes the art paper gets taped up to form a background/base, but most of the time it's this way.
I also have an extra piece of art paper that I use as another reflector. With light coming from just one direction (the door), using these pieces to bounce light onto my photo subjects helps so much. A little bit of shadow is okay, but lots of shadows aren't pretty. And on days when it's just a little extra overcast, these brighten things up.
When I take the actual photo, the crop in my camera looks like this. This has just a tiny bit of editing, which I'll talk about next time.
When I get in close for some photos, I grab my smaller piece of art paper and hold it with my left hand while shooting with my right hand. I can move it around and even flex it to fill in the light as needed.
And then I end up with this!
Working with a plain background and some light reflectors is easy and super inexpensive. And they work great for when you need to take other photos with not-so-plain backgrounds too. Like for a shot of a pillow on a chair or even of your child hugging a soft toy. Once you start playing with how the light bounces, you'll never go back.
Do you have a favorite tip for taking great craft photos? Share it in the comments! And be sure to check out my post from last week about the camera equipment I use!
As further proof of my animal obsession, this week on Handmade Charlotte I shared a printable for covering spools with mixed up animals. In clothes. Because, while I don't advocate torturing your pets with costumes, you have to admit that dressed up animals are pretty darn cute.
Wrapping up spools with these critters makes for easy play, but you could cut apart the printable to make little cards for more portable play too.
Grab the download for these Mix 'Em Up Animals at Handmade Charlotte!
Do you know what squirrels love? Acorns. I also happen to know that they really love pumpkins, because they always try to eat ours, and never the ugly ones...just the really pretty pumpkins. But I digress.
I'm not actually sure if flying squirrels also eat acorns, but let's just pretend that they do, because along with squirrelly things, I've been working on some acorny things, starting with these printable cards.
I was going to make them with just one very modern looking acorn, but then I thought...RAINBOW ACORNS! I really got far too excited about it, and the mega coffee that I've had leading up to me writing this is really adding to the excitement factor. I honestly feel like a squirrel right now. A little nuts!
Anyway, things are so much prettier when they are in rainbow color order, and I think these acorns are no exception. They're perfect for including a note with a gift, packing away in a school lunch, and they even fit Project Life.
Print on card stock, trim, and enjoy!
If you've been following Wild Olive for a while, you may have noticed that the projects I'm making have shifted a bit. Rarely would you see me making something that required a sewing machine, and quilting was far outside of my comfort zone. And then I started getting more comfortable. I started sewing more and more, and then I decided to try some quilting, and soon I was hooked.
Naturally, I wanted to share more things that use the skills that I've acquired, so it's pretty safe to say that you'll find plenty of quiltiness ahead on Wild Olive. (The block above will become part of a simple project coming next week!) But maybe you're still new to all of this. Maybe you need to learn some quilting basics. Let's work on that, okay?
I'm very honored to be working with Craftsy to present some of their fantastic educational video classes and other exciting features. Starting with Piece, Patch, Quilt: Basic Quiltmaking Skills.
Folks, this is a free mini class, but there's really nothing mini about it. Over several HOURS veteran quilter and quilt shop owner Gail Kessler presents everything you need to know to get started. The information is broken into bite-sized lessons and sections so it's not overwhelming, and because all Craftsy classes are yours to keep forever, you can go back to this class again and again.
The high-quality video lessons cover things like choosing fabric and designing a quilt, cutting and piecing, backing and basting, quilting and binding. You'll learn how to do these things, and why it's best to do them a certain way. To demonstrate these techniques, Ms. Kessler walks you through making three simple quilt tops and a mug rug, and the patterns for each of these are included as PDFs.
And it's free.
There are also so many great tips and techniques that will help you become a smart and efficient quilter from the beginning. This is where I really learned so much, and just look at those points I sewed! My seams are even! My quilt block is happy!
Sign up for this FREE basic quilt-making class today and you'll be piecing happy quilt blocks too. And you'll be all ready for making my inspired-by-autumn quilted kitchen project!
This post was sponsored by Craftsy, but the words and thoughts are all mine.
Last year, this flying squirrel nearly became a mini pattern in my shop. I'm kinda glad it didn't though, because the drawing is what led to this month's theme, and really, I just love giving away these patterns so that more folks stitch them up.
Download the pattern here.
So please, embroider a flying squirrel. You'll make his day and mine. (And if you do, please post a photo and let me know!)