Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ben builds Cluckingham Palace

As the summer of 2011 waned, Ben began to build a winter home for the chix that had spent warm months growing  in the garage. By the end of August, he had a good start on Cluckingham Palace, as Jen named the chix crib. (Photos by AJT and BLT)

Right side

Left side

Door added

Interior with added run-side entry

Exterior of run-side entry

Exterior with insulated nest boxes and vent window above

Painted interior showing vent window

Exterior closeup of nest boxes and vent window

After clearing brush, and putting up a new fence, by September 19, Ben had the painted coop up on his site.
The run was completed by October 19 and by November 6, Jake was an old hand wrangling chickens in the hen house.
Nice job, Ben.

Sweet dreams, chix.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tinier totes are great mini-bags for gift cards

A tinier tote (3.25-inch square) serves many uses:
  • Ornament
  • Gift card holder
  • Gift bag
  • Doll tote
  • Party favors
  • Placecards
My friend Joy T. asked if the tiny totes (Appleton Dance, Nov. 25, 2011) we made for shower favors could be used for Christmas ornaments and I told her the originals were a little too big for hanging on the tree. But I thought Joy's idea was great, so I sized the totes down and made some in the tinier size of 3.25-inch square. The tinier totes make cute Christmas tree ornaments. And the 3.25-square-inch tote size is perfect for presenting gift cards or other small gifts, like jewelry or candy. The small size also makes a great tote for a favorite doll. Made up in holiday colors, the tinier totes can also be used as favors and/or placecards at holiday parties. These tinier totes are very versatile! Use the following information in tandem with the Tiny Totes how-to in the Tiny Totes post (Appleton Dance, Nov. 25, 2011).

Cutting list for each 3-1/4 inch square tinier totes kit:
  • Bag top: two pieces of the same fabric 5 inches wide by 3 inches long
  • Bag bottom: two pieces of a fabric contrasting to the bag top 5 inches wide by 2 inches long
  • Bag lining: two pieces of a third fabric 5 inches wide by 4.5 inches long
  • Bag handles: two five-inch pieces of 1/4 inch wide grosgrain ribbon, satin ribbon, cording or fabric tube

I changed the proportions of the tote slightly so that readers can use their Scrap Therapy 5-inch-square stash or five-inch Charm Squares to make the totes. Of course you can also use any scraps or full yardage to cut your pieces.

Cut using Charm Squares or Quilt Therapy stash: (5 x 5 inches)
Choose two matching five-inch squares for the lining and choose four five-inch squares in two contrasting fabrics for the bag top and bottom. Cut the squares in two pieces to make a three-inch-long and a two-inch-long stack of four each, then match bag-top and bag-bottom to make the exterior of two different bags (they will be opposite each other in top and bottom bag fabrics, save one set for a second bag). Alternatively, you can choose four different five-inch squares and make a color-block or patchwork style bag.

With fat quarters (good for making multiples): (18 x 22 inches)
If you are using fat quarters, you can cut eight 5 x 4.5 inch squares from one-half of the fat quarter (make the five-inch cuts along the 22-inch side). Then cut two two-inch strips and two three-inch strips from the other half of the quarter and repeat with two more fat-quarters in contrasting or coordinating fabrics. (This will give you enough cuts to make a dozen bags.) Seam with 1/4-inch seams contrasting top and bottom bag fabrics to each other along the 22-inch length of the cuts, press seams open and cut seamed strips into four five-inch pieces. Match up bag parts to make tinier totes kits for 12 bags.

Assemble your bags using the same process outlined in the "Tiny Totes" how-to posted on Appleton Dance on Nov. 25, 2011. Make the following changes in that process:
  • When making the triangle shape to form the bottom of the bag, measure down only 1/2-inch from the tip of the triangle and sew across the triangle with a seam of about 1-inch in length. Cut the tip off, as shown in the "Tiny Totes" how-to.
  • When placing the handles on the bag, put the ends about five-eighths inch on either side of the center of the bag top (not the one-inch shown in the "Tiny Totes" how-to).
Tinier totes can be stuffed with tissue paper, lace doilies, or tulle. For a complete how-to-make the totes with photographs, go to  "Tiny Totes" posted on Appleton Dance on Nov. 25, 2011.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baby's first year one-sies

I just made this for a baby shower.  I thought they turned out super-cute and can't wait to see my new nephew in them!

I got the idea from this blogpost on TipJunkie.  The download file and instructions are available here as free printable from Parties by Hardie

I hadn't used the iron-on transfers before and was really happy with how easy they were to use and how well they stood up to the wash.  One of them got a little damaged, but I think it looks cool.

I gave them as a gift along with a frame with 12 windows, one for each month's picture.  Now all we need is the baby to arrive!


PS - Jenn at Parties by Hardie has lots more neat printables available on her Etsy store.  (We used some of the Monkey Baby Shower images at the shower and they turned out adorable!)


I used these supplies:

These are packs of 4 and come in sleeveless, short sleeve and long-sleeve options.  I bought one pack of the short-sleeves in each of these sizes: newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months.  I loved the long-sleeved ones, but trying to figure out what months would be long-sleeves vs. short-sleeves gave me a headache!

& my trusty Rowenta Focus iron

Step 1:
Download the file and print the transfers onto the Avery transfer paper.  Follow the instructions provided with the transfer paper.  I used the inverted images provided in the download file.

Step 2:
Cut out the transfers, stay close to the edge of the colored circle but leave a bit of non-printed white on the edge.

Step 3:
Assemble your onesies by size.  I used newborn size for month 1, 3 month size for months 2 thru 5, 6-month size for months 6 thru 8, 9-month size for months 9 thru 11 and 12-month size for finale month 12.
Step 4: Setup an ironing cloth (or a pillowcase!) on a hard surface.  Iron the onesie to remove any dampness, then lay the transfer face-down and press with hot iron for 1 minute. Make sure to cover the entire transfer.
Step 5:  Let onesie cool for a few minutes and pull off transfer backing.  Voila!
Step 6:  Wash in cool water (and Dreft), dry on low & touch up with iron.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tiny Totes

Tiny totes have a party!
This pattern for a four-inch, Small Treat Totedesigned by Monica Solorio-Snow of HappyZombie, is available free on the All People Quilt website.

This Appleton Dance post describes how we made tiny totes from the free pattern, and gives our recommendations about making multiples of this tote for parties and gifts. We also provide information (at the end of the post) on how to size-up the pattern to make a 10-inch tote, and a link to directions for a 16x18-inch shopper tote. 

This week we made three-dozen tiny totes for a happy event, filling the totes with colored tissue paper and individually wrapped chocolates. We added a badge with the party date printed on one side and a picture from the party theme printed on the other side. The badges were made using a purchased PDF from Jennifer Hardie's Parties by Hardie shop at EtsyWe used a hole-punch to put a hole at the top of each badge and tied a badge to the handle of each bag using narrow ribbon.
Cutting list for each 4x4x2-inch, tiny tote kit:
  • Bag top: two pieces of the same fabric 6.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches long
  • Bag bottom: two pieces of a fabric contrasting to the bag top 6.5 inches wide by 2.5 inches long
  • Bag lining: two pieces of a third fabric 6.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches long
  • Bag handles: two six-inch pieces of 3/8 inch wide grosgrain ribbon

Note: All mini-tote pieces are 6.5 inches wide. All seam allowances are 1/4 inch. RST means right sides together.

Fabric: This is an ideal scrapbag project because the size of the pieces is small. If you are buying or using your fat quarter stash, you can cut pieces for two bags from each fat quarter, or six bags from three different fat quarters. But if you are making multiples, the most efficient use of fabric would be to buy 3/8-yard cuts (13.5 x 44 inches) because you can get pieces for four bags from each 3/8-yard cut, or 12 bags from three different 3/8-yard cuts of fabric. The only problem with this efficiency is that you will have to pull a 2.5 x 13-inch piece of coordinating fabric from your scrapbag to eke out the final two bag-bottom pieces in this layout scheme.
Here is the process for cutting multiples:
  • Cut one 3/8-yard cut of fabric in half width-wise to make two 6.5 x 44-inch strips.
  • Layer the two strips on top of each other and make four cuts of 5.5-inches each (producing eight 6.5 x 5.5 pieces).
  • Continue by making four 3.5-inch cuts (producing four 6.5 x 3.5 pieces).
  • Then make three 2.5-inch cuts across remainder of fabric (depending on the width of your fabric, the last cut may not be necessary, or may be just a trim). This will produce six 6.5 x 2.5 pieces, and so you will have to cut the remaining two 6.5 x 2.5 pieces from your scrapbag. Since you have to buy three 3/8-yard cuts of three different fabrics to create 12 bags, you can find a 7.5 x 13-inch piece of coordinating fabric that will provide all the extra 6.5 x 2.5 pieces needed for 12 bags. A coordinating fat quarter will provide the extra cuts for up to ten sets of 12 bags.
  • Cut all bag pieces, arrange in piles of the same size pieces, and then mix and match fabrics (in sets of two for each bag piece: top, bottom, and lining) to create individual bag "kits".
Multiples: If you are producing multiples -- after making one trial bag to get a feel for the process -- I advise cutting all bag pieces at once, then pinning all eight pieces (including two 6-inch pieces of ribbon) for each bag "kit" together before beginning to sew. At your machine, produce batches of 5-10 bags up until the ironing instruction below. Take all your sewn pieces to the ironing board and press, then return to your machine to finish each bag. 

To assemble: RST (right sides together), seam one bag top piece (3.5 inches long) to one bag bottom piece (2.5 inches long) along width of fabric (6.5 inches wide) with 1/4-inch seam allowance. Repeat for second bag bottom and top pieces.

To bag top, pin one 6-inch piece of grosgrain ribbon to (RST, if ribbon has a right side) bag top with ribbon ends placed at one inch on either side of the center at the edge of the fabric. Pin in place. Repeat for second bag top piece.

RST, place one lining piece over the bag top, covering the ribbon ends. Sew along the 6.5 inch width enclosing the ribbon ends in the seam. Repeat for second piece. (For multiples: pin these two bag pieces together and set aside, then start another bag and complete to this step and set aside. Continue for several bags then take all to the ironing board for the next step.)

Press both pieces of the bag with seams pressed to one side.

RST, pin your two bag pieces together, matching seams.

Stitch around all four sides of the bag pieces, beginning at one side of the bottom of the bag lining and leaving a two-inch opening on the bottom to turn the bag through.

Do not turn, yet. On each corner of the bag match the bottom and side seams to form a little triangle-shaped beak. With a pencil, draw a 2-inch line across the base of the triangle, one inch from the point. Pin and stitch on the drawn line. Trim 1/4 –inch from the stitched line. 

Repeat for all four corners.

Turn bag through hole in lining. Push out corners.

Topstitch opening shut across the bottom of the bag lining.

Push lining into bag, finger pressing seams and top of bag. Steam press bag, if desired.

(This is a slightly different combo of fabrics from the bag in the how-to demo.)

Ten-inch tote: I sized the bag up to a 10-inch tote by re-sizing the "kit" to:
  • Bag top: two pieces of the same fabric 15.5 inches wide by 8 inches long
  • Bag bottom: two pieces of a fabric contrasting to the bag top 15.5 inches wide by 5 inches long
  • Bag lining: two pieces of a third fabric 15.5 inches wide by 13 inches long
  • Bag interlining: two pieces of lightweight Pellon iron-on interfacing (Iron this to wrong side of bag lining before beginning assembly.)
  • Bag handles: two 15-inch pieces of one-inch wide grosgrain ribbon

Monday, October 10, 2011

Reusable felt Bridge tallies

Bridge Tallies
Set of eight, reusable Bridge tallies for two-table progressive Bridge party

Here is an old-fashioned item that would make a sweet gift for Bridge-playing friends. This set of eight  Bridge tallies can be reused for parties of two-table progressive Bridge. Each player writes the score for each round of play on a small tablet stapled to the inside of a decorative cover, adds up the total at the end of play, and tears the top sheet off, leaving the tally ready-to-use at the next party. These directions include a PDF illustrating the progress of Bridge play to be printed on Avery self-adhesive name tags and adhered to the inside of each tally.

  • 8 pieces felt  4 x 10 inches each, any color or combinations of colors plus trimmings and scraps of felt and/or yarn for decorating the tallies (You can get three cuts from each 10 x 12 inch felt piece if purchased as individual pieces  and so you will need three pieces for one set of Bridge tallies. If you are using yardage, you will need 1/4 yard of 60-inch felt, or scrap pieces as available.)
  • 8 pieces PellonDécorBond fusible facing cut in a rectangle 2.5 x 3.5 inches each (round corners)
  • 8 pieces Pellon Décor Bond fusible facing cut in a square 3 x 3 inches each (round corners)
  • 1 sheet Avery 25395 self-adhesive name tags (8 name tags per sheet)
  • Post-it notes, preferably with lines printed on the note
  • Peel & stick acrylic jewels (if desired)
  • 8 short pencils (if desired)

  • Multi-needle, needle felting tool
  • Large brush-style needle-felting mat
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Stapler
  • Highlighter pen

1. Decorate each 4 x 10-inch piece of felt using contrasting scraps of felt applied by using a felting block and multi-needle felting tool. Place the area to be decorated (the bottom half of the 4 x 10-inch felt piece) on the felting mat; arrange felt cut-outs and/or yarn on the felt base, and attach the yarn and cutouts by repeatedly punching the decorative pieces through all layers with the felting tool.

If you want to decorate using card suits, you can make a diamond by placing a square of felt on one of the square’s corners, make a club by placing three circles of felt together in a small pyramid. A heart is easy to draw, and a spade is an upside-down heart. You could also make initials, or other designs with yarn.

2. When you are finished felting the décor, fold your decorated felt piece in half to make a 4 x 5-inch tally with the decoration on the outside of the front and the fold at the top. Reinforce the fold by topstitching about 1/8-inch from the fold, across the top of the tally. (To see what this looks like, check the photo above of the finished tallies.) Repeat for all.

3. Press out wrinkles with your steam iron, and trim if necessary. Use scissors to round the free corners at the bottom of the tally, opposite the hinge. Repeat for all.

4. Open up the tally and lay it flat on your ironing surface with the decorated side facing down and the hinge is horizontal, opening up like the lid on a box (not like a book). Using a hot steam iron, fuse the Pellon Décor Bond rectangle on the top of the felt piece, above the hinge. Fuse the Pellon Décor Bond square on the bottom of the felt piece, below the hinge, centered on the felt, about 1-inch away from the hinge. (See photo below.) Repeat for all.

5. Separate about 8-10 Post-it notes and apply them to the Pellon Décor Bond square below the hinge. Using one staple, staple the stack of Post-it notes to the tally with the smooth side of the staple on top of the paper and the staple showing on the back of the tally. Repeat for all.

6. Prepare the Avery name tags by accessing the PDF file titled Bridge Tally for Avery 25395 Name Badge from the Internet and printing one page of tallies on the name tags (8 to a sheet). (Alternatively, you may hand print each name tag with the information listed in the table of information, below.) Using a highlighter, highlight the number ONE on one nametag and highlight each number ONE on the grid. Highlight all numbers TWO on a second nametag, and so on, until all eight nametags are identified by a number ONE through EIGHT.

7. When the name tags are printed and prepared, peel from the backing, and place one on each Pellon Décor Bond rectangle above the hinge of each tally. Because the name tags are self-adhesive, they will stick to the smooth Décor Bond with no other adhesive necessary.

8. If desired, cut two 1/4-inch vertical slits about one-inch apart above Post-it notes beneath the hinge on the bottom of the tally. Slide short pencil into sleeve formed by slits. 

9. If desired, embellish decorated front of tally with peel & stick acrylic jewels. 


Table of information to be printed on 8 per sheet Avery self-adhesive name tags for two-table progressive Bridge party:

Table 1
Table 2
1-6 v 2-5
3-8 v 4-7
2-3 v 5-8
1-4 v 6-7
1-8 v 3-6
2-7 v 4-5
1-2 v 3-4
5-6 v 7-8
1-7 v 2-8
3-5 v 4-6
2-6 v 3-7
1-5 v 4-8
2-4 v 6-8
1-3 v 5-7

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kate G. creates "Witches & Pumpkins" design

Fiber artist Kate G. of Brighton, Michigan created this gloriously nostalgic October wall hanging with the aid of Electric Quilt software and copyright free patterns. She created the design as a special gift for the students in her foundation piecing class. Kate has agreed to share her mini-quilt design with Appleton Dance readers. To request her mini-quilt design, and for information about her classes and artwork, contact Kate G. at mailto:quiltinkateg@yahoo.com. 

For more information about foundation piecing, check the tutorial on CM Designs, Inc. website. CM Designs, Inc. markets the Add-a-Quarter Ruler that is an indispensable piece of equipment for foundation piecing.

Note: This post was corrected and updated on October 7, 2011.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Foundation piecing

My friend Virginia tried to explain foundation piecing to me years ago but I really didn't grasp the concept, and found her teeny-tiny dragonfly a mystery and a marvel. Then I signed up for Kate G's foundation piecing class at Creative Quilt Kits in Brighton, Michigan this week, and everything became clear. We made Kate's original design -- a 12x20-inch "Santa and Trees Holiday Wall Hanging" -- using her own paper foundation patterns and her very precise method of doing foundation piecing. I got another new piece of equipment -- a 6-inch Add-a-Quarter Ruler -- that we used to cut precise seam allowances for each piece of patchwork.

You can watch a tutorial on the foundation piecing method on CM Designs, Inc. makers of the Add-a-Quarter Ruler at: http://addaquarter.com/how_to.php.
The first block we learned was a cute little three-inch-square six-patch using one solid piece for the tree (instead of the nine pieces for the tree in the photo above). The Santa block was made of eight pieces added one at a time to the paper foundation. The tree block is made from 14 pieces. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Memory Game for Kids!

I guess I'm slightly obsessed with this memory game, after I made the first one I kept thinking of ways to improve or extend the game.

When my Aunt Susan was here in July we went to a quilt store I hadn't been to called Wendy's Simple Stitches in Howell, MI (great place!) and Aunt Sue found the perfect flannel fabric for a new & improved memory game.  The fabric is 'Jolly Jungle Labels' from The Hensley Studio.  The coordinating fabrics are great as well.

Instructions are the same as those posted here with a few improvements:  I ironed the fusible webbing onto the flannel before cutting out the animal blocks and I cut the felt squares 1/2" larger than I wanted so I could trim them after sewing on the animals to get even edges.

I absolutely LOVE how these turned out with the flannel and felt.  Mom made the perfect box for the game and all that is left is to make a 'how to play' sticker and a 'handmade with love (by your Aunt A, Grandma and Great Aunt Sue)' sticker for the inside top and bottom of the box.

Now I need to make another set...


Friday, August 19, 2011

Arrowhead quilt block from Solomon's Rotary Cutting Revolution

When Susan was here in July, we had fun making this Arrowhead block from Rotary Cutting Revolution by Anita Grossman Solomon. We took the class at The Stitchery quilt shop in Howell, MI with a great teacher, Ruth Spangler, who gave us lots of tips and led us through this intriguiging method of putting together this Arrowhead block.

Susan is an accomplished quilter, but she agreed to take this beginners' class with me. I have never pieced a block before except for simple two triangle blocks, and this one has 16 pieces! We had so much fun learning how to take two eight-inch fabric squares, seam them together, and cut them to make eight units that were easy to piece into the block. In fact, the process is so much fun that it is hard to stop. I finished all sixteen of my blocks the day after the class. The following week, I sashed the blocks and added two borders to make a 54x54-inch quilt that I gave to my daughter as a thank-you gift for hosting us during our week of quilting fun.

I learned so much from teacher Ruth Spangler at this wonderful class. Here are a few tips that this new patchworker found very helpful:
  • Spray starch your fabric before cutting.
  • Substitute your seam ripper if you don't have a stylus.
  • Make a design board from a 4x8 sheet of pink insulation board. Just lean the board against the wall and use pins to tack up your quilt pieces.
  • Clip seams at junctions where the seam allowances are opposed.
  • Buy a 1/4 inch seaming foot! It is worth every penny.
Ruth is a member of the Casual Quilters of Brighton, MI. Brighton also is home to the Brighton Modern Quilters group that meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month at Creative Quilt Kits in Brighton. Content by Linda Theil, photos by Alisa.

Update 09/05/11: This pattern appeared in the Nov/Dec 2010 edition of Quiltmaker Magazine and is available as a PDF file available free on the Quiltmaker website at: