The “Our Neighborhood” Project

Swaps, bees and challenges really do act as a kind of creative prompt for our quote-unquote tribe.  I love them.  They give me the chance to make for someone else.  An opportunity to tap into inspiration that otherwise might have been left by the wayside.  A way to stretch a bit.  Learn something new.  Perfect something old.

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But I think maybe the best part is the global neighborhood that we might not have even known we live in.  Through the groups I have worked with I have been able to chat with makers in Germany, England, Jersey (a tiny island in the UK that I didn’t even know existed), all over the US, and quite a few in Australia.  I mean really, what other excuse would I have to chat with someone on the other side of the pond, or even on the other side of the globe?

So, I got to thinking.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a neighborhood quilt?  One that was made of bits of this amazing global neighborhood we belong to.  Inspiration…

I don’t know actually what to call this.  It isn’t exactly a swap, or a bee, or a straight-up challenge.  So, I guess we’ll call it a project.  The “Our Neighborhood” project.

Interested?

Here’s the deal.  You make blocks of things that are in your neighborhood, or at least represent things in your neighborhood.  It can be your country’s flag.  A house.  Apartment building.  Dogwood tree.  Feral cats.  Mailbox.  Grave stone.  Creek.  Rainbow.  Grass.  Sand.  Cloud.  Sun.  Get it?

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Then you send those blocks to The Green Apricot, and I will redistribute them back out to you.  So, if you make and send four blocks, you will get four blocks back.  If you make or send ten blocks, you will get ten back.  You will have until May 29 to send your blocks if you are in the US, and May 22 if you are international.  I will then send your blocks to you no later than June 10, 2015.

But that’s not all.  I am notorious for collecting blocks from swaps that I never actually put together into a finished project.  So here’s the deal.  We are going to have an “Our Neighborhood” online quilt show.  That will be judged.  With prizes.

Get ready, ’cause this is the challenge.  I will send your blocks to you Priority Mail, and you have until July 10, 2015 to finish your quilt and post a picture to our online quilt show.  Then our judges will scan the posts and respond to a survey about the projects, which will result in prizes.  Just like a IRL quilt show.  Except I don’t know what the prizes are yet.  Just being real here.

However, I do know who the judges are.  Giuseppe- aka @giucygiuce.  Kristi- aka @schnitzelandboo.  Chris- aka @frecklemama.  Lee- aka @maychappell.  Karie- aka @karie_twokwikquilters.  Ummmm, yeah.  Like, that’s awesome.

So, here’s the rules in relatively short form.  Relative because I always talk too much.

1.  Register to participate by clicking here.  *****There is a small fee for shipping your blocks back to you.  $6 for US residents, $20 for international participants (It’s expensive and takes a lot of time).  This fee is not refundable, and is required if you want your blocks to be mailed to you.

2.  Make your desired number of quilt blocks that represent your neighborhood.  You may make the same block multiple times, or you may make all different blocks.  It is up to you.  Use your best fabrics and your best skills.  Don’t be sketchy because I will just send them back to you or send you other people’s sketchy work.  You may use whatever technique you would like.  Blocks can be no smaller than 2 1/2″ UNFINISHED, and not larger than 8 1/2″ UNFINISHED.  (To clarify- blocks do not have to be square, as long as they are no smaller than 2 1/2″ on any given side and no larger than 8 1/2″ on any given side.)  Label each block with a small piece of paper pinned to the block including your name and where you are from.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  Use the hashtags #tgaourneighborhood and #makeitlikeyoumeanit and/or tag The Green Apricot when posting progress.

3.  Mail blocks by May 29 for US residents, May 22 for international participants- AT THE LATEST.  I am not responsible for blocks lost in the mail or not received before June 10- the date that I am mailing out to you.  I suggest you mail them as soon as possible with tracking, and that if you wait until the last minute, which is what I would do, then use expedited services such as Priority Mail, UPS or FedEx.  The mailing address will be made available to you in a confirmation email after you register.  DO NOT SEND ANY EXTRAS.  Note- I will use USPS Priority mail with tracking to send your blocks to you on or before June 10.  Again, I am not responsible for blocks lost in the mail, although I will probably feel really bad for you and make you some more myself.  Or not.

4.  Wait on pins and needles for that package to come from The Green Apricot.

5.  When you receive your blocks, get to planning and to work.  You will only have a couple of weeks to finish your project and post it to the online quilt show.  International participants will have even less time.  You may add whatever you want to the blocks you receive, but please indicate what blocks came from whom.

6.  Post pics of your completed project in the online quilt show by July 10.  Projects should be complete with quilting and binding before the pics are to be posted.  Information for posting will be included in the mailing of the blocks.

I am totally aware that I am doing this at a crazy time of year.  And totally aware that this is a real challenge.  And totally aware that you can do it.  Between now and July 10 I have three trips that require an airplane, a child graduating from high school, and a camping trip with about 200 teenage girls.  I’m sure your list is even longer and more consuming.  But remember, sometimes we just need to reach a little further to win the prize.  I can’t wait to see what you do…

#Stockingpalooza2014

Thirty-one Christmas stockings.  (I. Like. Big. Numbers and I cannot lie… Sorry Sir Mix-a-lot, you come to my mind at the strangest of moments.  Back to the point…)

This year one of our daughters asked if I could make stockings for her and her family, so I proceeded to call and text to find out who all wanted a new Christmas stocking this year, and before I knew it, the numbers were climbing… to 31.  That may seem a little extreme, however I find that with just a few tips and tricks, this really is a quick and easy project.  They end up being perfect for everything from charities to last minute gifts.  And even Santa can get on board with that.

A guild that I belong to has made these stockings for several years to give to a local women’s shelter, so that’s where I learned to make them.  I did a little prowling online for “Magic Christmas Stockings”, and everything I found was pretty similar to what I had been taught several years ago. However, in one of those “Eureka!” kind of moments, I had an idea of how do make them a little different this time around.

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So, are you ready for some Stockingpalooza?  Fabulous.  Here we go…

Be sure to read all of the instructions (or at least look at all of the pictures) before proceeding.  There are two options included in this pattern based on the kind of fabric that you choose to use.

Tools:

Required:  Fabric scissors, pinking shears, coordinating thread, marking pencil or pen, pins, iron, sewing machine in good working order

Outline of desired stocking shape traced onto a large sheet of drawing paper, parchment paper, or pieced-together printer paper.  You can do this using a stocking that you already have, or a template from the Internet.  A search for “printable Christmas stocking patterns” will produce a number of them to choose from.  The amount of materials listed in this tutorial allows for a stocking that is approximately 12″x18″ finished.

Optional, but very helpful:  Serger/Overlock machine, invisible thread

Materials:

Option #1-
Stocking Exterior- 1/2 yd printed duck cloth, canvas, or other heavy fabric
Stocking Interior- 1/2 yd printed duck cloth, canvas, or other heavy fabric

**If fabric is directional, be sure that the stocking outline will fit in the proper direction
Binding- (1) 2 1/2″ x 20″ strip of coordinating fabric
Ribbon- 40″ of 1″ satin ribbon

Option #2-
Stocking Exterior- 1/2 yd lightweight or quilting cotton fabric
Stocking Interior- 1/2 yd lightweight or quilting cotton fabric
Binding- (1) 2 1/2″ x 20″ strip of coordinating fabric
Lining- (2) 18″x 22″ batting scraps
Ribbon- 40″ of 1″ satin ribbon

 Directions for Option #1-

opt1, step1Fold both the Interior and Exterior fabrics right sides together, selvedge to selvedge, and press.  Layer the Interior and Exterior fabrics on a cutting mat or workspace with the Interior on the bottom, as shown above.

opt1, step2Using an outline of the desired stocking shape, trace the shape onto the fabric.  My template happens to be made of a clear acrylic, and I used a Frixion pen to outline it.  However, you don’t need either.  The pen marks will not matter when the stocking is sewn together, and a paper template will work just as well.

opt1, step3For ease in the next step, go ahead and cut away the excess fabric from around the stocking outline.

opt1, step4Pin the layers of stocking together, well inside of the stocking outline.  There are two ways to proceed from here.  The picture above shows using a serger to cut out and stitch together the layers at once.  If a serger is not an option, simply cut the layers of stocking fabric with fabric scissors using the traced outline, then stitch the layers together using a 1/4″ seam allowance on a regular sewing machine.

IMG_7692The above pic is what the stocking should look like at this point.  If the layers do not look like this, then the stocking will not turn out the correct way.  Reach in between the two Exterior Fabrics and pull the stocking right side out.  It should look like this…IMG_7695

To bind the stocking, begin by taking the 2 1/2″x20″ piece of fabric to an ironing surface.

To bind the stocking, open the stocking so that the Interior Fabric is visible.  Line up the binding on the inside of the stocking with raw edges together as shown below and pin in place.

binding1The orange mark on the binding in the picture above is to show where to begin stitching.  It is important to leave about a 1/2″ or so space between the fold and the beginning of the stitching.  It isn’t important that this space be exact, only that there is enough room to tuck the binding tail into.

binding2Using 1/4″ seam, stitch the binding to the inside of the stocking, rotating the stocking as needed.  Stop stitching, with the needle in the down position, just before you reach the folded point of the binding.

Fold binding to the outside of the stocking and pin in place, as shown below.

pin bindingUsing either matching or invisible thread, stitch binding in place by stitching very close to the seam created earlier.

finish stitch bindWhen complete, the outside of the stocking will look like this…

binding stitched downFold the top of the stocking down about 2″ or as desired.  mark the back edge of the stocking for ribbon placement.

Fold the 40″ ribbon in half width wise to mark the center of the ribbon.  Align the fold in the ribbon with the mark on the stocking and pin in place.

Stitch the ribbon in place along the fold mark, fold the top edge of the stocking down, and viola, it’s done!

finished two layer

Directions for Option #2-

When using a lighter weight fabric, add layers of thin batting to make a more substantial stocking.  The directions are exactly the same, except at the very beginning.

IMG_7732Following the directions as above layer the Exterior and Interior fabrics, but put one of the pieces of batting in between the two fabrics. You may have figured out by now that it doesn’t matter what order the Exterior and Interior fabrics are layered.  It only matters that they are right sides together, and in this case, that there is a piece of batting between them.

IMG_7733

Lay the second piece of batting on top of the layers of fabric and batting.  Trace the stocking outline onto the batting, similar to the directions above.

Pin all of the layers, serge (or cut and sew), trim the top, then run a second seam just inside the serger seam.

Just as above, pull the stocking right side out by reaching in between the layers of Exterior fabric.  The red check becomes the inside of the stocking, and ultimately the folded cuff, while the peppermints are the outside.

Bind and finish as directed above.

I personally prefer the binding method, but if you would rather have a cuff, like the one pictured below, measure the width of the top of your stocking, double that measurement and add 1/2″.  Cut a cuff 8″x the measurement that you just found.  Sew the cuff together on the short sides, then fold in half on the long side, creating a tube.  Sew the tube to the top of the stocking, raw edges together, and cuff to the inside.  Don’t forget a hanging loop.  Then flip the cuff to the outside.

IMG_7751This is actually an incredibly versatile project, and I look forward to doing another batch next year with another spin to it.  I’d love to see what you do with it- maybe a toe with a bit more curl?  Or some applique?  Embroidery?  Pieced fabrics?  Hmmm…  I’ve already got some ideas for #Stockingpalooza2015!  Maybe a little Christmas in July?  What about a stocking swap?  Well, well, well, I guess we’ll have to see about that.

 

 

She’s ba-ack… No, not Poltergeist-

It has been so long since I blogged last that I am not sure I remember how!  Good grief!  Where to start?  I suppose it depends on what you are working on, but I’ve found when it comes to walking, scrapbooking, genealogy and writing, it is usually best to start where you are.  So, here goes…

IMG_4141[1]The Stash Bash.  Yeah, you heard me, I got to go.  Jealous?  Well, you should be.  It was stinking fabulous.

So, first, you must know that I couldn’t have been more anxious about this event.  I found these gals online through Instagram, but I did not know a single soul that was attending.  You know how this normally goes, most of us don’t go to things like this without a sista.  Or two or three.  I went alone.  Not only that, but I had the dates wrong on my calendar and almost showed up two weeks too early.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I emailed the host, Chris Warnick, to ask about directions the night before I almost packed up and headed to the event.  Her return email politely informed me that the Stash Bash would take place on April 24, not April 10, and could I please reply and let her know that I was aware of the correct dates?  Oy.  Way to introduce myself.  “Hi!  My name is Angela, and I am the idiot that can’t figure out what day I am supposed to be here.”  Thankfully I live 15 minutes from the venue and didn’t buy a plane ticket.  Or start a 12 hour drive.  Or whatever.

IMG_4103[1]So, once I got the dates figured out, I packed all my shtuff and headed over to the Calvin Center.  This was the view we had from our workroom, which I totally appreciated on the first day, but honestly, barely noticed after that.

IMG_4101[1]And this was where I “slept”.  We had a choice between bunk rooms and hotel-ish rooms, and I chose bunk.  Partly because it was cheaper, and partly because I wanted to check out the quilts on the other bunk beds!  Besides, you don’t go to quilt retreat to sleep, so I actually prefer this kind of set up, albeit a bit on the primitive side.  Sadly for my roomie, I had a touch of something-or-other and ended up hacking all night, which of course she said didn’t bother her one bit.  She was kind.

IMG_4104[1]Then there was swag.

IMG_4152[1]Then there was more swag.

IMG_4113[1]Then there were snacks to go with the swag.IMG_4226[1]All from all those guys.  Yeah, tha’s what I’m talkin’ about.  Are you an Instagramer?  Check out #thestashbash (not #stashbash, although there are some good looking mustaches on that one) and #sponsorlove.  Then go buy stuff. IMG_3279[1]The plan was to work on this little nugget, but you know what they say about the best laid plans, so that didn’t happen.  So, what did happen?

IMG_4228[1]This happened.  The Sew Together Bag by Sew Demented.  (You may click here to buy the pattern!IMG_4161[1]Now, in case you didn’t notice, let me tell you a few things about this bag.  Number one- it’s a bag.  I don’t do bags.  Number two- it has zippers.  I don’t do zippers.  Number three- it has 4, count ’em, 4 zippers.  Did I mention I don’t do zippers?  Let’s just say I now know how to do these zippers.  And I really loved making this bag.

So, in case you’re keeping track, I was wrong about dates, miserably nervous about going alone, and didn’t get anything done that I had planned to work on.  Well, that’s about where the list of disappointments ends.  (Except that the really nice guy that used to be the cook at Calvin was gone, which was pretty sad, but I didn’t go there for the food.)

I had a fabulous time.  I mean fabulous.

I learned a lot while making that bag, including that it was actually possible for me to make a bag, with the right teacher.  In fact, I may even make another one.  Maybe even a different kind.  Who knows, I may become a bag making machine.  Or not.  Either way, by the end of that project, I believed all of that bag making business, and I wouldn’t have without Kristi McDonough’s guidance.  She is awesome.

IMG_4158[1]Then there was my roommate.  And my table mates.  And my dinner mates.  And all the rest of my retreat mates.  I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed.  There was no drama.  When I said “hashtag” they knew what I was talking about.  When they spouted off names of designers and I didn’t know who they were talking about, they seemed to be okay with it.  No one seemed to care that we were in a room full of creators that varied from 12 IG followers to well over 2,000 IG followers.  And I was finally able to define what it means to me to be a “modern quilter.”

IMG_9823Honestly, for a long time I have believed that “modern quilters” were defined by two things- age and style.  I stand corrected.  From what I saw at the Stash Bash, I’d have to say that it is way more about technology and community than anything else.  There is just something almost explosive about how technology has facilitated a flow of creativity and know-how that we have never experienced before.  It changes the way we see the world and ourselves, thus changing the way, and even what, we create.  What a fabulous time to be a quilter.

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