Posts filed under ‘Quilting’

Opulent Ornaments: A Delightful Rabbit Hole

BakersDozenOpulentOrnamentsI went off the deep end about a year ago after I accidentally came across instructions for Paula Nadelstern’s Opulent Ornaments and decided I needed to make one. Or a dozen. Get her directions here. (Embrace the bling; resistance is futile.)

I spent a long time collecting sequins, pins, beads, and other shiny objects and finally found courage to give it a try back in July when I was supposed to be catching up on crib quilts for new additions to the Simms extended family. (Knowing I should have been doing something else with a higher priority made this particular rabbit hole even more delicious.)

As you can see in the picture above, I’ve exceeded my quota, and that doesn’t count the two I have been working on. I don’t want to stop. I can’t stop. I have collected many pounds of bling and all sorts of wonderful containers to store it in.

Each Styrofoam ball is a new canvas and I can’t wait to “skin it” (cover it with Paula’s phenomenal fabric so that there are no pleats or wrinkles) and stick stuff all over it (self-explanatory).  I mostly work on the balls in the evening. I can actually carry on a conversation as I poke pins, so technically it’s “together time” with Steve. I actually volunteered to take a bump on a recent trip back from Florida so I could “ball” in the airport. (OK, so I got a hefty voucher too, but those extra 6 hours went by SO fast!) I even embellished on the plane. Apparently when you’re waiving pins around and spraying sequins in all directions the people on either side of you are willing to relinquish the armrests. It’s all good.

IMG_4030So here’s what you need to get started.

Fabric
You will need Paula Nadelstern’s fabric panels like the ones on page 4 of her instructions with six large circles accompanied by 12 or 8 smaller ones near the selvage edges. They are available at eQuilter.com Search for “mandala Paula Nadelstern” or these collections: Kismet, Chromazone, and her newest line, Super Kaleiders.

IMG_4029Styrofoam Balls
Paula’s instructions call for 6″ styrofoam balls. You can find them at JoAnn.com, Michaels.com, and Wal-Mart.com. Dollar stores have them too, and you’ll hit the mother load in Canada if you live near a Dollarama. They’re all $1.50. Selection isn’t always consistent, but they have pretty colored cup-shaped sequins too. I hesitate to tell you how many times we have driven 90 miles to the Dollarama for balls. OK, there is great Italian food nearby, so it’s not just for Styrofoam.

Note that Paula also encourages you to try other sizes. I find that smaller ones (4″ diameter) are a little more difficult to skin, but they go fast. The 5″ diameter balls look most opulent if you’re using them as Christmas tree ornaments plus they won’t bring down your Douglas Fir. (These ornaments can get heavy!) I’ve never tried any of the green florist Styrofoam balls, mostly out of fear. Anybody used them successfully? I tend to prefer the smooth skinned balls. Much harder to push a pin in, but you get a nice squeaky sound and it feels like the pins will stay put. The rough skinned balls shed a little, but pins go in easy. Larger balls are usually rough. I’ve made an 8″ and a 10″ ball. Use a thimble to save your fingers.

Sequins
IMG_4030 (1)You ca#n find sequins just about anywhere, but if you want to go overboard, visit CCarwright.com. Their website is easy to navigate and the eye candy is magnificent. Prices are very reasonable, especially if you look for closeouts.

My favorites are the hologram sequins and my absolute favorites are the 3mm Flat Hologram Mixed Colors. I use these to cover the raw edges of the fabric. (I tried to outline them in red in the picture to the left.)

Beads & Findings
Check out the beads and bracelets and other jewelry stuff at Michael’s. You can see a silver colored do-dad with a green pin in the center in the picture above. If you can string it for jewelry, you can stick a pin through it and poke it into a ball. Watch for the 50% and 70% off sales on the green label beads. I think they heavily discount them once every three months or so.  Hold off on the glass beads unless you can’t live without them. You can buy them on Amazon in bulk. (See the downloadable list in the next section.) Fla bottomed beads and jewelry “things” are better; they won’t rock with handling which might loosen the pin.

Pins
The more the merrier. I like steel and brass pins, glass or plastic head pins, short pins, long pins, corsage pins…you see where this is going, right? I’ve turned into a pinhead. The more variety in color, style, and most importantly, size, the better. As Paula says, “more is more.” (Use a thimble to insert the pins.)

Click on the blue letters to see a list of supplies and where to find them: Opulent Ornament Supplies

Containers
IMG_4032I love plastic storage boxes. Just looking at my stash of bling makes me happy. The black tray in the foreground is a jewelry tray (Michael’s). I ripped out the black ring holder thing and covered a piece of Styrofoam packing material with muslin. Makes a nice flat pincushion. The rigid tray goes on my lap and keeps my balls from rolling away. A magnetic pin caddy holds steel pins. (The brass ones fall off, duh!) I use tweezers for grabbing pins out of containers. I’m switching to plastic tweezers; see the list above. Darice makes the round little screw-top containers in a short and tall version. I use them for sequins. The purple and blue tabbed plastic container is for vitamins. Got mine at Walmart and used a solvent to get rid of the days of the week, AM, and PM labels.

IMG_4028

Now is the perfect time to jump down the rabbit hole with me. Just dive in. It’s so much fun!

Thanks, Paula, for this amazingly fun project and your wonderful fabric!

 

 

 

November 14, 2017 at 11:40 pm 32 comments

Origami Folded Fabric Ornaments

Image02

Kevin MacLeod made a great video showing how to make origami folded fabric ornaments. Thanks to his video I’ve been having a blast making Christmas ornaments! Take a look and then come right back for my tips below.

Ami’s Tips

1. Pre-wash your fabric. I know, I can hear the moaning already. If you pre-wash (and iron) you don’t have to pin anything. Because pre-washed cottons slide less than un-washed cottons.

2. Pick two, freshly pressed, coordinating Christmas fabrics and place them right sides together on a flat surface. If the selvage edges are still intact, make sure they are lined up. If they’ve gone missing, figure out where the straight of grain is and line up both fabrics so that the straight of grain is running the same way in both fabrics.

3. Flip your lid (or your mixing bowl) rim side down and trace around with a super very thin permanent pen. (You read that correctly. Permanent.) Permanent pen lines will be cut off and what little might remain won’t bleed if the pen is permanent. Then trace some more circles because you’ll want to make lots of ornaments. The lines you are tracing CAN TOUCH. In fact, they probably should, so you can save fabric. (You’ll see why shortly.)Ormer01

4. (If you didn’t pre-wash/dry you get to pin now. All over. Lots of pins. Nasty, pointy pins. Be careful.) Dial down your stitch length a notch, and sew 1/8″ from the marked line on the inside of the circle. A shorter stitch length and narrower seam allowance make for a smoother, rounder edge. When you turn the disk right sides out, the seam allowance will have shorter and less noticeable pleats. (The marked line is your cutting line.) Go ALL THE WAY AROUND leaving no opening. OH MY! Is she for real?! YES! Do you want to tuck in a 1/8″ seam allowance and blind stitch it shut? Me neither.Ormer 2

5. Do the folding thing in the video to find dead center. (I know, we’re still inside out.) Mark dead center on both fabric with the dreaded permanent ink pen. I hope it oozes through the fabric because you’ll be looking for the marks on the right side of the fabric.

6. Make a 1″ slit in ONE fabric 1″ away from the marked dead center, like this. The fabric you slit will NOT be the one that slips over the ornament corners. The slit will be on the back of the ornament cleverly concealed by something I have not not yet revealed.Ormer02

7. Turn disk right-side out. Push out seam allowance with chopstick. Lick your fingers and wiggle the two fabrics back and forth at the seam to draw out any hidden creases. You can also pick them out with a pin.Ormer03

8. Fold disk again, as in the video, to make hard creases that evenly divide it into quarters.  (Pins take over for creases in humid weather or if you’re dragging this project around for a while.) Sew a button to the non-slit side, dead center. Shank buttons are the best. If you don’t have a button with a shank, go get one. Or make a thread shank. Sew with stiff, sturdy thread like Coats & Clark hand quilting thread.  Knot off the thread after sewing on the button, but LEAVE A VERY LONG TAIL.Ormer04 (Can you see how old my thread is? $.91 WOW! And did you notice I forgot to stitch decoratively about 1/8″ from the edge? I think I’m OK with that.)

9. With the thread from sewing on the button exiting the top fabric at the button shank, pick a pin, any pin (or creased side). Spear it just like Kevin did in the video and pull it all the way to the button shank, taut. Take a stitch in the fabric right next to the thread shank to anchor it.Ormer05

10. Moving clockwise or counter-clockwise (whichever is most comfortable) take a tiny stitch to anchor the thread on the next side of the button very, very near the shank and pierce the next crease.  Bring it to the button. Take a stitch as before to anchor it.Ormer06

 

11. Repeat with the last two creases, take thread to the back and knot off. You can make as big a mess as you want with the knot on the back. The knot and the slit will be covered.Ormer07

12. Press the sides, then fold over and nail the point with your iron. Steam is good.Ormer08

13.  Make the final flips like Kevin showed. Press.Ormer09

14. Flip the ornament over and cut a square of Sticky Template Plastic (STP)  that is it 1/4″ smaller than the ornament. The STP insert will be covered in fabric and inserted down in Step #17.

15. Peel off the release paper, stick it on the wrong side of a piece of matching fabric and, with a rotary cutter, trim the fabric a hefty 1/4″ beyond the edge of the plastic.Ormer10

16. Cut strips of  STP 1/2″ wide by  1/2″ LESS than the width of the square above. In a two-step process, stick an STP strip to the right side of the fabric, and then wrap the fabric to the wrong side and press the STP to secure it. Don’t worry about the mess in the corners.Ormer11

 

17. Center the insert on the back of the ornament and then finish as Kevin suggested with a hanging cord or thread. The fabric-covered STP straightens up the ornament nicely, gives it a little heft, and lets you dress up the “back end.”Ormer12

18.  Insert something to hang the ornament with, like Kevin showed in the video. I settled on 11″ of red pearl cotton #5 and used a big fat needle.

19. Now what? Use a gel pen or permanent pen to sign and date your ornament, or write a little message to the recipient.  Maybe before you slapped the STP on the fabric you could have embroidered something? Next time.  Here’s another idea:  tape a length of ribbon to the non-fabric side of the STP  and tie a gift card to the back of the ornament. See how nicely it tucks into the corners for extra security? Fuse or sew a QR code to the STP  insert. Upload a video, photo, or favorite recipe to be accessed with the QR reader on your smart phone.Ormer13

The original post for this awesome ornament came from a woman in New Zealand. Click here to read Katrina’s Tutorials blog.

Get Sticky Template Plastic here.

Get fusible or sew-on QR codes (with subscription to cloud storage included) here.

 

December 11, 2015 at 7:52 pm 29 comments

In Search of the Perfect Bib

BibsFinal

My granddaughter spits up a lot and might be starting to teethe. She goes through a lot of bibs. Most bibs are too small, too thin, and the plastic backing rips and tears after multiple trips through the washing machine and dryer. Fastening a bib at the nape of the neck requires a third hand. Velcro is nice, but the hook part sticks to everything in the wash if the dirty bib isn’t closed before it hits the washer. Cheap/fake hook and loop closures lose their “stick” pretty quick. A good bib is large, absorbent, waterproof, adjustable, easy to put on and take off, and easy to wash. Good luck finding one that meets all the criteria. It’s a good thing we can sew!

The “Perfect Bib” Tutorial

Bib1. Find a bib with a good shape. I found this one at Baby’s R Us. Great shape, good size, side closure, crappy hook & loop, too thin, and the plastic on the back cracked and tore.

Bib Tutorial -32. Trace or photocopy the bib to get the pattern. I used the copy button on my printer and then copied the bib in two sections. Then I taped them together. Two sheets of Sticky Template Plastic covered the pattern with some to spare.

Bib Tutorial-3Just peel off the release paper, place the sticky side down on the photocopy, and press. When using two sheets, as in this project, butt the long sides of each sheet together so there are no gaps. Cut two rectangles 1/2″ wide from the leftovers and stick those over the join to keep the template from bending. If I were making just one bib, I would use the paper pattern, but making a sturdy plastic template means I can trace the shape instead of pinning the paper to use as a pattern. It’s faster and more accurate. (Replace the release paper on the sticky part of the template plastic not touching the paper pattern to save it for another time.)

Bib Tutorial-43. Cut out the template with a sturdy pair of paper scissors and purchase a chunk of PUL fabric. PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate. It will make your bibs waterproof. See more.

      4. Place the plastic template on the wrong side of the PUL fabric and trace with a ball point pen. Easy peasy.

Bib Tutorial 55. Place the PUL fabric on top of bib front, right sides together. You can purchase terrycloth  by the yard for the bib front or up-cycle hand and bath towels. The higher quality the terrycloth, the more absorbent the bib. Pin all the way around. (Don’t worry about pin wholes in the PUL fabric. A hot dryer will close them.) Don’t forget to mark an opening through which you will turn the bib right-side out.

Bib Tutorial 66. Sew on the marked line, leaving an opening. I backstitch several times at the beginning and end so the stitches won’t come out when I turn the bib right-side out. Cut 1/4″ from the stitching. Bib Tutorial-clippingClip inside curves.

7. Turn the bib right-side out and press. Turn under the opening and clip. Baste opening closed.

Image-2 Image-3

Image-48. Topstitch 1/8″ from edge using matching thread.

BabyVille Snap Plierssnaps9. Attach snaps with Babyville Boutique Snap Pliers and snaps. I put two snaps on the neck strap so that it could be adjustable. Embellish with iron-on or sew-on appliques if desired.

March 27, 2015 at 4:45 pm 10 comments

Scooter Did A Bad Thing

Scooter (The Wonder Dog)It’s me, Scooter. I did a bad thing. I wanted to go out last night, you know, to be OUTSIDE. There are things outside that I like. One of them was furry and soft with a long tail. Mom couldn’t see it, but she didn’t know where to look either. I was barking at it through the “slide-y” door. Mom wanted to go to bed and that means I had to go out one last time. She was afraid I’d chase the thing out there so she hooked me up to the 50-foot leash. We do that sometimes.

The other end of the leash is hooked to a big eye screw in the part of the deck that isn’t attached to the rest of the deck. It is just a platform to step on because the deck is lower than the house. There’s a handrail on it. Dad is the only one who can move it because it is very heavy.

As soon as Mom hooked the leash to my collar, I did the bad thing. I took off running. She tried to hold the leash to slow me down, but I was running real fast. She let go because the leash was going through her hands so fast it was starting to spark.

Fifty feet is a long leash. Mom yelled the whole length of the leash at me to STOP!  But I wanted to visit with the furry soft thing that has a long tail. And it was running away from me and that made me want to run faster.

Then I came to the end of my leash.

Mom was standing on the deck part that isn’t attached to the rest of the deck and now it isn’t attached to the rest of the deck even more than usual. About 3 feet more than usual. Dad estimated that the deck that isn’t attached to the rest of the deck plus Mom has to weigh at least 200 pounds. I weigh about 70. (There is a math story problem in there somewhere.)

Deck SurfingMom was still standing after I dragged the deck. But the furry soft thing with the long tail started to run again. So I ran again too.  Mom wasn’t expecting to surf the deck a second time so she kind of fell backwards. Luckily, “Old Flamingo Legs” caught herself in time and was still vertical when I remembered, again, that I was still attached to the part of the deck that isn’t attached to the rest of the deck. Her left foot stepped back and then down. Way down. To the part of the deck that didn’t move. Now her left leg doesn’t move like it used to.

Most importantly I am fine. I can still bark as loud as ever. Neither of my eyes popped out of my head. My neck isn’t kinked. There are no black and blue marks between my fur hairs (Mom checked) and I seem to be as perfect as I was before.

I am hoping my friend is in the back yard again tonight!

November 19, 2014 at 11:13 am 82 comments

Baby Watch

Grandmotherhood awaits!

As a quilter, I think it’s appropriate that I’m “on pins and needles,” don’t you? At this moment, we are Due Date Minus THREE Days. We’re having a baby!

No idea if it’s a boy or a girl, we’re just praying for healthy with the full complement of fingers and toes. Sweet anticipation. Jennie and Craig, you’re going to be a wonderful parents. I can’t stop smiling.

And for the record, the quilt was finished before the baby arrived—with matching crib skirt, assorted crib sheets, puddle pads, and receiving blankets.

TLCB-overall-lowrezI did have help. Inspiration for the baby’s first quilt came from a tutorial by Jennifer Grigoryev. I used 6″ white squares, so the scale is a little larger.

I used gray thread for the quilting (to match the walls). And, I’m particularly happy with the little sliver of turImage02quoise in the binding. It’s sewn in, not a flange. (Images get bigger when you click them.)

Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions on what to make for the baby. I’ll share what I learned soon. And if you don’t hear the shrieks of delight when the baby is born, I’ll blog and put it in my newsletter for sure.

 

10-12-14UPDATE

Zoey Bea was born on October 12, 2014. She weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces. She is just a smidge over half a yard long–my little Fat Quarter.

FullSizeRender

 

October 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm 92 comments

DIY Pencil Pocket

Bohin Pencil PocketI love the ceramic Bohin marking pencils. They make a thin, perpetually sharp line that I can see. The line stays on just long enough to quilt or applique through. And, it totally comes out with a light wash or by erasing.

With Bohin refills (6 of each color per pack) I have my choice of white, gray, pink, green, and yellow, depending on the fabric I’m marking.

I’m including a BIC mechanical pencil with each color refill I sell on my web page until I run out.

Here’s how to make Pencil Pocket to keep them all organized. (Click images.)

Step #1: Remove the Pencil Lead
Push the eraser on top of the pencil several times to advance the lead that comes inside the pencil. When you’ve got enough poking out the tip to grab onto, about 1/2″,  push the eraser down and hold it down. Yank out the lead. Gently twist off the eraser and dump the other two leads out. Then insert the Bohin ceramic leads from the container. The pencil will hold all 6. Replace the eraser.

Step #2: Cut Fabric
Find two coordinating fabrics, one for the outside of the Pencil Pocket, and one for the inside. (I picked a funky black and a wild pink.) Layer them right sides together. Cut both fabrics at the same time into two 5″ x 5″ squares. They’ll be ready to sew in the next step.

SewStep #3: Sew
With right sides together and raw edges even (you just cut them like that so they should be perfect) stitch 1/4″ from the raw edges with thread that matches either one fabric or the other. Leave a 3″ opening so that you can turn them right side out. (Backstitch at the beginning and ending to that the stitches won’t come out in the next step.

TrimStep #4: Trim & Turn
Trim all four corners to reduce bulk. You’ll be cutting off a teeny tiny triangle from each corner. Then, reach into the opening and turn the two stitched squares right sides out. Push out the corners with your finger. If there is still fabric stuck in there, take the BIC mechanical pencil, push the eraser down, hold it down, and push whatever lead might be sticking out at the other end up and into the barrel of the pencil. Use the pointy end of the pencil to gently coerce the fabric out. Be careful not to poke the pencil through the fabric. Make sure the sides are fully turned as well. If they’re not popping out, stick a straight pin in the seam and carefully lift them out.

PressStep #5: Press
Once the corners and sides are fully turned and straight, turn under the seam allowances at the opening. Press.

 

 

Fold labeledStep #6: Fold Twice
With the opening at the bottom (you’re right, it has not been sewn shut yet) fold the Pencil Pocket in half vertically. Then fold over the upper right corner diagonally until it meets the vertical fold as shown. Press.

 

 

 

ButtonStep #7: Sew Button
Open the long vertical fold, center the button, and sew it on. (It’s easier to sew the button on before the next step.)

 

 

DoneStitchedStep #8: Sew & Finish
Refold the long vertical fold. Line up the edges along the bottom and right side. With thread that matches the “outside” fabric of the Pencil Pocket, stitch close to the edges, backstitching to secure ends, as shown. The stitching will complete the pocket as it closes the opening.

 

Bohin refill BACKStep #9: Move In
Clip the BIC mechanical pencils to the back of the Pencil Pocket so they won’t fall out.

Now that you know how to make a Pencil Pocket, order your Bohin refills here. They come with the colorful mechanical pencils like you see here.

September 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm 4 comments

Quilt Labels: Make It Personal

ThLee'sQuiltLOWreZe tradition continues, but this time with a twist.

I’ve shared that I make quilts for nieces and nephews. Now we’re on the second generation, quilt #2. This is Lee’s Quilt and I added something a little different. I “signed it” with a QR code. A what?!

A QR code, or Quick Response code, is a type of bar code.  It is read by a machine and contains information about the object to which it is attached, like this quilt. W-H-A-T?!

qrcode.23776260This is a QR code for AmiSimms.com. Great. Now what? Well, if you had a smart phone, you would download a free app like QR Reader and you would hold it up to the computer monitor, line up this little black and white code through your smart phone camera, wait for the little beep, and you would magically be taken to my website.

(Don’t ask me what to do if you are reading this blog post on your smart phone, although there is probably an app for that too!)

My website. Big deal.

Wait! There’s more! You can purchase a QR code professionally printed onto a fabric label. They are called  Story Patches and they come  in “sew-on” or “iron-on.” Incidentally, while I appliqued this onto the quilt after the top was finished, I could just as easily have pieced it in. And, it would have lived just as happily on the back of the quilt as on the front of the quilt. Watch the video to see how the QR code works and to see close-ups of the quilt.

The hardest part is deciding what you want the QR code to do. In addition to linking it to a video message, you could link it to a photograph, an audio message, or a written document. Best of all, you can change the video, photo, audio message or document any time you want. The QR code can be “read” by scanning, or by entering the letter code into a web site.  There’s no expiration on the QR code either. They’re also washable.

StoryPatchesIf you’d like to try a Story Patch (QR code) on your next quilt, I carry both the sew-on and the iron-on in my online store . Click here. If I’m coming to your quilt guild I’ll be happy to save you shipping and hand deliver these and/or any other lightweight items to you when I come. Just give me some advance notice.

UpperRightCorner-LRez
Ami Simms
(810) 733-8743
AmiSimms.com

August 11, 2014 at 7:04 am 18 comments

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