Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Love Apples 2011 Quilt Show Challenge Entry

For every quilt show my quilt guild has a quilt challenge. If you scroll through some of my older posts you'll see some entries I've done in the past. With the birth of the twins I really didn't think I'd have time to create an entry this year (I usually do a quilt). I managed to have some time on the actual deadline day the challenge entry was due (thanks to my wonderful husband taking the twins all day!!) and decided to go for it. I certainly didn't have time to make a quilt or clothing item in a few hours time, so I opted to enter something into the "Other" category. I Googled to get some inspiration and this challenge piece is what I came up with at the 11th and a half hour!

I made his "Little Girl's Bunny Basket Play Set" as my entry. Per the rules (which you can find if you follow the "quilt challenge" link above), all entries had to have at least one basket that contained something. This certainly qualifies!

It was a fun (if rushed) project. I learned a new technique making the basket and had a blast making the carrots. If I were to do this again (when I had more time!) I'd add a face to the front of the basket and a cotton ball tail to the back. I'd also have made a dozen carrots instead of ten, and would probably make other types of fruit too. But either way, not too shabby for a last minute entry!!! Maybe I'll win in my category. :)

To see my inspiration for this play set, please visit these links:

The tutorial I followed (and modified slightly) to make the carrots!

The tutorial I followed (and modified slightly) to make the basket!

The idea to do the bunny ears (I didn't follow this pattern, but it did give me the idea to do it)!

All the challenge entries will be displayed at the 2011 Love Apples Quilt Guild Quilt Show in March. If you are local (South Jersey) please do come!

Completed: February 2011

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Christmas Craft

If you scroll through the old posts on my blog you'll find several posts about my annual Christmas craft. I have been doing this since my early teens. I wasn't sure with all the pre-twins, home improvement, and Christmas hustle and bustle I'd get it done this year. But I carved out some time the Monday before Christmas and made these
wire and bead ornaments. They are humble compared to other years' crafts, but they are done!

They are made with two sizes of Argentium Sterling Silver Wire, Seed Beads, and Satin Ribbon.

Completed: December 2010

Baby Amish Puzzle Balls

I made these three Amish Puzzle Balls as new baby gifts for family members and friends. One is entirely hand made (pink) and two are machine made (so I could get them done in time!). They are fun to make, show that I care enough to make something by hand for the recipient, and make great gifts for all ages. Here are some others I've done in the past.

Completed: December 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Pillowcases for My Nephews and Niece

I've done pillowcases before for my nephews and niece and other young children. They are always a hit because I pick fabrics/themes that they are into at the time. This year was the year of Scooby and Space! Sorry the pictures are sub-standard as they are from a phone. I forgot to snap some shots before I wrapped them!!

Completed: November/December 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Santa Paper Ornaments

I used my Cricut Expression Machine to make this paper Santa ornament using one of the new seasonal cartridges. I then mailed one to my nephew and another to my niece and nephew. Unfortunately the postal service saw fit to temporarily lose them and then return them to me undelivered and neither was delivered before Christmas. I ended up hand delivering them after Christmas.

Completed: December 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baby Shower Thank You Notes

My wonderful family and friends threw me and my husband the most lovely baby shower in early November. Since I had done something special for both the initial announcement and the gender announcement I thought the thank you notes should be special too. The theme of the shower was "Two Peas in a Pod". I used my Cricut Expression machine and I think the "New Arrivals" cartridge to make these thank you notes that followed the theme. They are varying colors and slightly varied designs just because I wanted to change things up a bit. If you are reading this and got one of these, the design/color you got was purely random and was the one on top at the time! I also made two special thank you's. One for my nephew who got me a special gift himself and I knew would enjoy getting his own thank you and one for my dad ("Big Daddy") who also got me a special gift on his own (a huge thing for my dad!).

Completed: November 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How We Announced the Twins Genders!

On the Tuesday right after the big mid-pregnancy anatomy ultrasound where we found out the genders of the twins and just before we let the local family know, I quickly made this t-shirt to use in the "big genders reveal". I got the t-shirt from a local craft store and fusible appliqued the "boys" on there. I then put on a second shirt to cover the t-shirt. We went to my parents and then to my mother-in-law's and "flipped up" the cover shirt for the big reveal. We then texted the above picture to all the non-local family (and of course Facebooked it too). After the fun box announcements we couldn't just follow up with a boring gender reveal could we?!?!

Completed: September 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quilt Show Boutique Items

Here are a few things I've made for the boutique for my quilt guild's upcoming quilt show (March 2011). The first picture shows medium and large size Humbug bags (not affiliated). I also gave one of the oriental ones to my mother-in-law for mother's day and one of the rabbit ones to my niece just because. The second picture is a folded fabric pot holder that my guild gave out as a kit and I finished and returned. It reminds me of a Florida beach house!! The last picture is of an Amish Puzzle Ball.

Completed: August 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Twins Announcement!

My husband and I have been together over 19 years. Our families gave up on us ever having kids as we were busy, career minded, and big travelers. We KNEW we had to announce this in a special way! With everyone not even knowing that we were trying, we announced to our family and friends that we were expecting twins (a big surprise to us too!) at my husband's birthday party. Right before we were going to cut the cake we said that we had "party favors" for everyone and to please all open them together. The first picture shows the boxes we handed out. The second picture shows what you saw when you opened the box. The third picture shows what you saw when you picked the "smelling salts" up (aka table salt) and pulled the ribbon which revealed what was under the tissue paper. Then happy crying and pandemonium ensued! Once everyone slowly calmed down a bit we told them that there were ultrasound pics in the bottle. Those pics revealed that we were expecting twins. Did I say pandemonium before? Well it was repeated times 10! That was how we told our local family and friends who came to the birthday party.

Siblings got phone calls immediately following. For the rest of the close family and friends we mailed this announcement (pictures show front, inside, and back) which was already in the mail at the time of the party. Several more shocked and happy people followed! This sure was some fun stuff!!!

The mailed announcements were made using my Cricut Expression machine and one of the cards cartridges ("Wild Cards" I think) where I suited the designs to my needs. The "party favors" were my idea.

Completed: August 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Has Melissa Been So Quiet?

Why have I been so quiet lately? Simple, I have been quilting. A LOT! Ever since my room was cleaned I have been trying to spend my free time in there creating quilts. I actually have five different projects going! One is a long overdue project, and the rest are all new projects. I also have the added incentive that my guild's quilt show is coming up in March 2011. If I want quilts to hang in it I best get cracking!

This post is a sneak peak of what's cooking.

The Dogs Get Some Lovin' Too!

After cleaning my quilt/jewelry studio, my first project was for my greyhounds. They are getting up in years at 13 and 12 years, respectively, and I wanted to get them some nice 4" thick memory foam dog beds to ease their old bones. Since they are larger sized dogs they needed really big dog beds. When I priced out four of them (two upstairs and two downstairs) plus tax and shipping I was going to have to spend about $400. GACK! They were worth it, but there had to be a better way. There was. Me making them! I purchased a huge piece of 4" memory foam, cut it down, and sewed the covers myself with sturdy fabric I had on hand. I made the covers intentionally a little loose because the dogs like to circle and "nest". Each pair of beds took about an hour. Total cost of me making them was $25 a bed and two hours of my time. That's pretty awesome compared to the $100 per bed I was prepared to spend.

The beds are HUGE at 40"x35" and the dogs love them and are pretty much comatose on them all the time! And yes that is Bear's tongue sticking out! The black dog is named Bits.

Completed: February 2010

"Cleaned" the Quilting/Jewelry Studio....Finally

I spent some time in late January "cleaning" my quilting and jewelry studio. I say "cleaning" because other than some vacuuming, I mostly organized the chaos. My room had gotten so over run that I had a path from the door to my sewing machine. It was so cluttered it was killing my creativity and desire to create.

I spent a whole weekend purging, organizing, rearranging, etc. I picked up some great three drawer storage containers from Wal*Mart ($15 each!!) and I went to town. After two intensive days I could see my studio again! The HGTV folks would still fall over dead, but for me this is nirvana. I can find everything. I can move around. And best of all, I've been creating quilts like crazy ever since!

It feels so good. Now I need to motivate myself to tackle the rest of the house!! But at least I have my priorities straight! :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Christmas Earring Gifts...6 Pairs!

Piece Names: Christmas Earring Gifts

Every Christmas I usually make earrings for a few family members to give them as gifts. The usual recipients are my sisters Cindy and Shona and my sister Cindy's mother-in-law Mrs. Garland.

I made the above earrings as inspired by instructions that can be found in the book Earrings by Helen. They are made with Argentium Sterling Silver Wire, Swarovski Bicone Crystals, Sterling Silver Beads, and Faceted Amythest Beads. They were made for my sister Shona. The swirled wire moves freely. They came out exactly as I had hoped!

These earrings were also made for Shona. They are made with Argentium Sterling Silver Wire, Sterling Silver Starfish Charms, and Frosted Glass Beads. The charms and beads were purchased in a bead store in Duck, NC. The earrings are supposed to remind her of sea glass and childhood family vacations to OBX, NC. These were my own design.

Much like the above earrings were meant to remind Shona of the beach, this pair was made for my other sister Cindy for the same reason. The beads and charms were purchased in that same bead store in Duck, NC. They are made with Argentium Sterling Silver Wire, Sterling Silver Flip Flop Charms, and Frosted Glass Beads. These were my own design.

These earrings were also made for my sister Cindy and are probably my favorite pair that I made of the six earrings in this blog post. They were inspired by another Jewelry Artist named Szarka. She made a pair of Labradorite Ruby Swirl Earrings. I saw them on her blog, loved them, knew I would make my sister a pair for Christmas inspired by Szarka's, left a comment on her blog telling her I was going to do this, and then made them! I was totalllly pleased with the results. My sister hasn't taken them off since Christmas so I must have gotten them right! Thank you for the inspiration Szarka! Mine are made with Argentium Sterling Silver Wire and Glass Beads (also purchased in Duck, NC). The center beads spin freely (something my sister loves)!

These were made for Mrs. Garland. She loves turtles and frogs and bright colors. These were made with Argentium Sterling Silver Wire, Amythest Beads, and Sterling Silver Tortoise Charms. These were my own design.

Following the same theme as above for Mrs. Garland, these were made with Argentium Sterling Silver, Dyed Mother of Pearl, and Sterling Silver Frog Charms. These were my own design.

This last picture is not of earrings of course, but instead is of a repair job on a bracelet of my sister Shona's that my mom bought for her. The original very thin string holding the heart broke and frayed. My mom asked me to fix it using some leather rattail she provided. This is the result. The rattail is secured with Argentium Sterling Silver. I replaced the original flimsy clasp with this sturdy Sterling Silver one. My sister is glad to be able to wear it again. So is my mom!

Completed: Christmas 2009

Amish Puzzle Balls...A LOT of Them!

Piece Name: Amish Puzzle Balls

If you've been reading my blog for awhile or are related to me you know I do a yearly craft to give as Christmas gifts. I've done all sorts of different techniques and crafts over the years. The last two years I did wire items and wanted to get back to a fabric item. I did a lot of Googling and came across Amish Puzzle Balls. There are many different techniques to do these. I even have a few books with patterns in them, but I ended up making these by looking at various pictures online and figuring out how to do them using fabric intially cut into circles.

I dug into my stash and ended up making 15 of these balls!!! Each one was a different pair of fabrics. I tried to pair the color of the ball with the person receiving it. Thankfully I started in the fall and other than a few last minute balls I had most of them done far in advance (not usual for me).

I did some all by hand and some mostly by machine depending on whether I wanted to sit up in my studio or sit downstairs watching TV with my husband.

They are actually puzzle balls as they are formed by three units that are put together to make the ball. The challenge for the people that received them was to figure out how to take them apart and then how to put them back together again.

I enjoyed making these so much I taught a Love Apple Quilters workshop to my fellow guild members in November 2009.

If you'd like to see ALLLLLLLLLL the puzzle balls that I made please follow this link.

Completed: Holidays 2009

Warren's Christmas Cards...Continued!

Piece Name: Warren's 2009 Christmas Countdown Book

If you are a reader of my blog you will remember this post where I made Christmas Countdown cards for my nephew Warren. Knowing that my sister and my nephew would want to keep these as keepsakes I decided they needed something special to hold them all. So this soft sided book was born. I spent a Saturday combining my quilting/sewing skills with my scrapbooking skills and created this.

I wrapped it up and gave it to him as a Christmas gift. He had a good time putting the cards in all their right spots. My sister was glad that I came up with something as she was going to hole punch them and put them all on a metal ring. Much more durable (and cute) this way! This was my own design.

Completed: Christmas 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fabric Poinsettia Ornament

Piece Name: Fabric and Oil Paint Poinsettia Ornament

I have been making a handmade ornament for my former Pastor's wife on and off since I was in our church's Youth Group. Let's just say the last time I was in Youth Group it was 1991!! So I've been doing that for quite a awhile. I can't remember if I have made something for every year between then and now, but I have done a lot of them and especially since they left the church and moved on from ours. Click here to see an example of one I made in the recent past.

I usually tuck the ornament into their Christmas card, so by necessity it has to be light weight and pretty flat. This year I went up into my quilt studio with a vague idea and sat down in front of my sewing machine. This is what I produced. It took about an hour and is my own design. For an off the cuff project I have to say I am pleased. It gives a good impression of being 3D while being very, very flat and thin. The flower uses four different fabrics with matching thread. I used a layer of embroidery stabilizer between the front and back fabrics to give it a bit of body. Because I thought the flower lacked depth I used Shiva Oil Paint Sticks to add a bit of accenting and color depth (which looks far better in person than in the photo). It was the first time I have used them. I got them for Christmas a few years ago but haven't had the occasion to use them until now. They are so cool. I have to find more uses for them!

I am kind of sad to mail this one as I like it quite a bit!

Completed: December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Homemade Christmas Cards

Piece Name: Homemade Christmas Cards

I guess this blog will start having paper crafts now in addition to the jewelry and quilting! I'm not changing the name to "The Wired Paper Quilter" though!

I needed a Christmas card for a coworker and had some left over trees from another project. I decided to make a homemade card. It reminded me of evergreen trees on the side of a snowy peak. I loved the result so much that I cut out more trees and made a whole forest of cards for all the people on my list to which I mail Christmas packages. I am so pleased with how they turned out and how they all look similar but are all unique too. I don't have much free time for my own hobbies let alone creating things for others. The people I make things for mean a lot to me else I wouldn't take the time or effort to do them. I hope they realize that the making of these cards shows how much I care and that I gave up my precious little free time for them. Even if they don't, I know...and if they are reading this they know too! :)

Pieces Completed: December 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

An Infomercial and a Black Friday Blowout Deal?!?

Piece Name: 25 Days for Warren

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Everything I am working on is destined for Christmas gifts, so no goodies to share for now. I do promise a glut of posts after Christmas though!!!

Anyhow..back to this post. So I fell asleep on the couch watching television. I woke up in the middle of the night to an infomercial about the new 24" Cricut Expression scrapbooking machine by Provo Craft (NAYY). I thought wow what a neat machine, but I'm not a scrapbooker. I kept watching anyhow. Then they showed how you can use it for quilting to cut out applique shapes. OK SOLD! If it is a quilting tool odds are I own it!!! Anyhow, this is NOT an inexpensive machine. So I was good and didn't order it (unusual restraint for me I know!), but I did keep it fresh in my mind and did a little web searching. Even the cheapest prices I found online put the machine in the $250 range. Still too steap for occasional use for quilting. Then on Black Friday in Walmart I found this exact machine for a blowout deal of $100 even! OK SOLD! I thought it was mismarked. It wasn't. YAY! I also picked up two cartridges which were also on sale. I cracked the sucker open and started playing.

I decided I needed a project to get myself familiar with the machine and the cartridges. Remembering that my 3 1/2 year old nephew loves getting mail, I decided to send him a "Days Until Christmas Countdown" note everyday leading up until Christmas to get him uber excited. I am using 4"x6" colored index cards as the base for each. Everything else, including the envelope is made on the die cutting Cricut machine. How cool is that! I am officially addicted to this machine and have a couple of quilts using it rattling around in my head. After Christmas maybe I'll have some time to actually start them!

I have all the notes done and have begun mailing them daily. I usually create three at a time. Here are the notes in order of delivery. WARNING TO MY SISTER AND NEPHEW: Don't open this link if you haven't received all the notes yet...else you'll ruin the surprise! The rest of you...you can look right now by clicking here. I apoligze for the couple of blurry shots. I sealed the envelopes already so I couldn't retake them.

This has been fun even if it is a very, very simple scrapbooking type project. It certainly is familiarizing me with the Cricut machine and even more important is making my nephew smile and get excited for Santa.

Pieces Completed: December 2009