Friday, September 30, 2011


As kids, we used to go to Girl Scout day camp at this great camp just outside of town.  The main building was built on a hill and behind it was a steep slope down to (presumably?) a river.  The slope was forested and covered in lots of scrub oak and poison ivy, so we never went down there.  We did do one project on the backside of the building though, and that was macrame.  I think the leaders chose to put us there so we would have something to hang our things from.  I don't remember ever making anything but plant holders, but I remember it being quite fun.  That one year at day camp all the macrame-ing I'd ever done until a couple of weeks ago.

My mom brought me a Christmas cactus to put in my plant window, but the space there was full.  I decided to make an old school macrame plant holder to hang my spider plant from the ceiling so the Christmas cactus could sit in the window.  I found this easy pattern, and started in.  That website has good descriptions and instructions for the knots as well as free patterns which was good because I had no idea where to start.  I'm not sure how you're actually supposed to hold it while working, I just slipped the bottom ring (it builds from the bottom) around my big toe.  It took me the length of an OSU football game to finish, and here it is!

It was fun and easy to make, especially since I chose a really basic pattern.  I think it looks way better than a store bought generic plant holder, but I'm probably not going to do any more macrame for a while.  I have lots of other projects, and randomly the jute made me sneeze a whole lot while I was working with it.  You guys ever do any macrame or knot crafts?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Geometry and Teeth!

Today I have two small projects that I pinned to my "to make when you have time" pinterest board a while back and finally got around to trying.  The first is this completely un-zippable tetrahedral coin purse.  You can see in the unzipped photo below it's basically just a ribbon sewn to a zipper, but when you zip it up it makes a cute tetrahedron.  I made up this one with some fun dragonfly ribbon I've had forever and sent it off to my sister (an ex-math teacher) to cheer her up the other day.  It's not hard to make at all, I used the tutorial found here.  The instructions were accurate and easy to follow and the whole thing came out just how I thought it would.  In the tutorial she uses the ribbon on the outside and fabric on the inside, but I just used ribbon on both sides.  Also, I machine sewed the whole thing rather than hand sewing.  That worked just fine (with a zipper foot) except around the edges where I did it by hand.  All together I thought it was a pretty cute and clever idea.  It didn't go together quite as quickly as I thought it would, but it still probably only took about 2 hours, so you could easily make one in an evening.

The second quick project is a custom dry erase board.  I'd been seeing them all over the internet but this one using fabric really caught my eye.  I picked up a gross old picture frame from the thrift store and painted it silver with some spray paint left over from another project I can't even remember.  I just covered the back insert in fabric, added some light blue trim and voila! custom dry erase board.  The frame is about 18 x 21 so not huge but big enough to be useful.  I hung it up in my cubby at work to keep track of all I have going on.  I had the fabric and trim on hand, and chose the fabric because I thought the lines were nice for something that was likely going to be used to make lists.  In addition, I wanted light colors (so I could see what I was writing).  Anyone who's ever seen my stash would know how hard it is to find a piece of fabric with light colors, so I was glad to un-bury this.

So, do any of you guys pinterest?  Have you made anything you've pinned there? That site is at once the most fabulous and worst thing ever!  There are so many inspiring things I want to try and having them all there staring at me is very distracting.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Mike and I took our (now annual) fall trip to Arkansas this weekend, so not much quilting or crafting going on around here.  It was a fabulous weekend for riding, and I love it up there in the Ozarks.  The mountains are very small compared to the ones I grew up in, but they are mountains all the same.  It was so nice to be outside in such nice cool-ish weather after the miserable summer we've all had here in the dust bowl.

We didn't stay in Eureka Springs this year but we did stop there on Saturday so I made my regular stop at the quilt store there.  It's run by this nice man who moved to Eureka from Hawaii a while back and one half is Hawaiian gifts store, complete with dancing hula girl and sea shells and the other half is Hawaiian quilt store.  He has lots of Hawaiian applique patterns (never again for me after this) and lots of tropical fabric and pretty batiks. I resisted buying any fabric this year but did get several small skeins of perle cotton in a nice fall palette.  I'll show them once I decide what to do with them.  I also refrained from buying any pottery in the great galleries this year since last year the goblet I got for my mom broke in the motorcycle on the way home even though it was well-wrapped.    I hope you guys had a nice weekend!  I'll see you back here on Wednesday with more project-y goodness.

Mike drives,  I take pictures!

And finally, to give you a Monday morning giggle; a terrible picture of me and Mike after three days of helmet hair.  I should have put on a ball cap.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Works In Progress: S is for Sewing!

One of my large ongoing art quilt projects is the bigger version of S is for.....  I designed it and started piecing it in the Caryl Fallert class my mom and I took at quilt camp.  It utilizes her design technique and assembly method (appli-piecing), which I've talked about before (and here and here).

My mom just finished the quilt she started in the class- it looks phenomenal; her colors, design, assembly, quilting, and details are just fabulous.  She used this beautiful subdued olive-cream-maroon color pattern with a few pops of bright turquoise.  As usual, my chosen color palette is simply "bright."

I drafted the pattern based on the same initial S initial I used for the smaller S quilt, and added/subtracted detail as I went.  Each piece of the pattern serves as its own freezer paper template, so the pattern is consumed during the piecing process.  Here it is as I drafted it (before starting to piece).

I paper pieced the spikes in the center dragon and appli-pieced all the rest.  Originally, it had no border- just the dragon, but then I decided I would frame it with a skinny border and continued piecing on two sides (like the corner of a book page).

I decided I didn't like that, so then added borders around the other two sides.  Here's the final top.  The camera angle is bad, it really is pretty square.  I just machine appliqued the little flamelets coming out of the dragon's mouth, they and the foot are the only things not appli-pieced.  The very very saddest part is when I spritzed it with water and pinned it to my design wall to try to square it up a little bit, the dark navy in the bottom right corner bled into the yellow corner stripe!  I'm so sad, I have to figure out a way to deal with that.

I decided to do some faux trapunto under the dragon and a couple of leaves, so I layered muslin, polyester batting, and the quilt top and stitched around the dragon/leaves using water soluble thread.  I used the muslin because I wanted to stitch from the top side, but wasn't sure if the feed dogs would catch on the batting.  Afterwards, I trimmed the batting/muslin very close to the stitches.  This is the back of the quilt-  you can see the muslin kind of puffed up with the batting underneath.

I was originally going to wait and quilt it on my mom's longarm machine, but I really don't want to to wait until Thanksgiving, and have another big quilt top in line for the longarm anyway, so I think I'll try to do this one on my home machine.  I'll just have to be very patient and willing to rip stuff out if it doesn't look good.  The whole thing is about 30 inches square, so it shouldn't be too unmanageable.  Right now I'm just waiting for my batting to arrive.  I used polyester for the trapunto, and have usually used Hobbs 80/20 cotton/wool for my quilts, but my Mom said she's had really good luck with 100% wool batting lately so I ordered some of that.  I'll keep you posted on the quilting progress once the batting arrives!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Wreath

I have lots of Christmas decorations we've made over the years, but fewer fall decorations.  Lately I've been really inspired by the book page and fall wreaths I keep seeing (you should see my pinterest board-it's full of them), so I thought I'd try one.  My main inspirations for the book page parts were this and this and this.

I started with a crummy novel I bought at a Borders that was going out of business.  Once I got it, I realized that I'd already read it, and not only that, but I hadn't even enjoyed it that much.  So it seemed like a good choice for this project.  I soaked the edges in coffee (to give an oldish look), and then put it in the oven at ~180 degrees for a few hours to dry out.

I made a cardboard wreath shape to serve as the base; I just traced around my cake taker for the outside and around a salad plate for the inside.

For the first layer of pages, I folded them accordion style and stapled them all around the outside of the wreath (you can see them peeking out from the bottom in the picture).  Then I flipped the wreath over, and attached pages I'd wrapped into cone shapes in a couple of layers on top of the bottom layer.  I put similar (but) smaller cone shapes around the inside.  This left a weird space between the cones pointing inward and the cones pointing outward, so I attached some more accordion folded pages to the middle (in the picture below I'm partway through that step).  I used hot glue, and it worked great.

This is what the wreath part looked like after all these steps; nice enough, but not quite colorful enough for my taste. It also wasn't quite round, so I hoped to obscure that with some additions.

I decided to make a bunch of felt flowers to put on it to brighten it up.  As ever, the internet came to my rescue with gems like this and this and this and this.  I made five flowers and some leaves and tried them in a bunch of arrangements on the wreath.  I finally settled on just using four so I have one extra felt flower for a future project.

So here it is!  A fun fall wreath.  I was going to hang it on my front door, but we never come in that way so I decided to hang it inside where I could see it.  You guys have any fun fall crafts in the works?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Patty the Piglet

Another fun crochet amigurumi for you guys!  I swear I really am a quilter, but these little projects just get done so quickly I can't help but post them.  I promise, progress on big quilts is ongoing.

I made this cute little pig for Mike's granddaughter's third birthday.  The theme of her party was Olivia, but I couldn't find an actual Olivia crochet pattern.  Upon opening the package, she swirled the piglet around and around by its tail and then threw her in the air.  The piglet is really pretty round and tosses well.  The pattern was very simple and found here.  I decided I'd rather have a skirt than wings, so I just added one instead.  For anyone keeping track, this is the same skein of pink yarn as Pokey the Pink Elephant was made from.  I also made a small pink bunny I haven't yet blogged about, as well as Patty the Piglet.  There's still enough of this yarn for one more animal at least, then maybe I'll switch to a different color.

My favorite part about the little piglet is her curly tail!

I tossed the piglet to Mike and he tried to show Missy.  Alas, Missy was quite aggravated by the piglet and growled at it alarmingly.  One final note,  I'm so excited, we're going to the fair tonight and there are little baby piglets there that were just born last Thursday!  I'm so excited to see them, although Mike thinks I'm nuts.

What's you guys favorite fair activity?

Friday, September 16, 2011

H is for Hippo

This is the last post on the small things I made for my mom's recent birthday.  My mom has collected hippos for a long time now, and they are usually pretty adorable.  Apparently in real life they are quite mean, but none of ours are.  When I made the crocheted amigurumi elephant and dog, Mom asked if there was a hippo.

There was not a hippo in the book I had, so I scoured the internet for a tutorial or a pattern.  Sadly, in spite of the wealth of little amigurumi, I had little luck finding a hippo pattern.  I finally stumbled upon this adorable purple hippo and the lady said she had made it using Vanna White's Easy Crochet Critters book.  I got it from Hobby Lobby and crocheted away.  As with most amigurumi, the patterns are very easy and it went together quickly.

Bizarre side note:  when I started looking for a crocheted hippo pattern, I swear I could not find anything online.  Then, a minute ago in an effort to find the original cute purple hippo that inspired me to get the Vanna White book, I google "amigurumi hippo" and  tons of cute hippos and several patterns pop up right away.  I have no idea what I was doing before but weird.  Sadly, I can't even find the really cute one I saw before!

Anyway, I made my hippo with green lightly variegated yarn and gave her a pink neck scarf.

I really like making these little guys.  They're all easy to crochet, the patterns are simple, and the results are adorable.  They're great for a take-along project.  Next up- a little alligator guy!

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

State Fair Roundup

I've entered some of my quilts in quilt shows before (when I can remember the deadlines), and it's always fun to see them hanging up with the really phenomenal work that is usually present.  This year I decided to enter a quilt in the state fair (which always reminds me of Charlotte and Wilbur).  They give out ribbons up to 10th place in each category, and even though they use fairly standard ribbons, they're usually bright fun colors.

When I went online to register, I realized I'd missed the deadline so had to pay a late fee.  When I looked closer though, I realized it was a single ten dollar fee for as many items as you wanted to enter and the only limit was that you could only enter one item per category and the items had to be finished this year.  The state fair has LOTS of categories, so I figured why not enter several things!

Here's what I entered; keep your fingers crossed that I get at least a couple of fun colored ribbons!

In Quilts: Machine Quilted

In Embroidery: Mixed Types (I originally had it in Custom Needlepoint but the lady at the fair told me it wasn't needlepoint at all and helped me find a different category.  I was confused apparently)
Starflower 2

In Crochet: Animals/amigurumi

 In Quilts: Crib
Hawaiian Applique (yes, I know it's not really a crib quilt, but it's about that size, and you're really not supposed to put quilts in cribs anyway these days)
In Quilts: Miniature

And, finally
In Quilts: Wall Hangings

Wish me luck!

What's your feeling on entering quilts or projects in contests?  Have you won any fun ribbons?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Starflower 2

I always like to have hand projects to do in the car, and at various times have tried all sorts of things;  knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, needlework/embroidery, hexies, you name it.  I think I've just about concluded that the best thing for me in the car is really simple crochet.  I started a complicated doily type thing a while back; it's actually a UFO that didn't make my list, but its pattern was too complicated for me to focus on while simultaneously chatting to the driver or listening to an audiobook.   The hexies are pretty simple too, but I don't want to make any more of them until I know what I'm going to do with them.

Anyhow, a couple months back I decided to try hand quilting.  I made myself a quilt sandwich with black sparkly fabric on one side and white sparkly fabric on the other side and sketched out a star with rays radiating out.  My idea was to fill each ray with a different hand quilting pattern.  I also thought that it could be double sided; some colors of thread would show up better on the white and others would show up better on the black.

I struggled along for a while; I don't really know how to hand quilt, so I looked up some online resources which were pretty helpful.  Sadly I don't remember where I found them!  The whole process was slow though and the sparkle in the black fabric combined with the skinny quilting thread meant that the stitches weren't showing up as well as I wanted.

When my mom suggested I use embroidery thread, I jumped at the idea.  The double stranded (or more) thread showed up much better, and I could use larger stitches.  I did several rays using the embroidery floss with just a simple running stitch until one day I stumbled across Molly's embroidery stitch instructions on Wild Olive.  I've read her fabulous blog for a long time (you guys should totally check it out) but it never occurred to me that I could do some of the fun stitches since my mind was still on "quilt" not "embroidery."

In the end, the project turned out to be a mix of various types of stitching with lots of colors (my favorite kind).  I had intended to work on it slowly in the car but found that my stitches were neater when I worked on it while stationary.  Then a couple of weeks ago I decided to enter it into the State Fair which starts this week, so I went ahead and finished it up.

Starflower 2, 16" x 16" 2011, Shannon Conley

Here are some close-ups of some of the sections, sorry about the weird shadows in some of the pictures.  My design wall is directly across from the window that is the primary light source for my photos, so when taking close ups my choices are to be at a really weird angle (bad) or be straight on but have horrid camera shadows in the pictures.  My dad said he'll help me with some other light sources the next time I'm at their house, but in the interim, I'll keep on like this!

Those little orange flowers and the adjacent swirls are some of my favorite patterns.

I also really like the metallic thread (on the right above) with the pink, although the metallic is hard to see in the picture.  It's actually Ricky Tim's Razzle Dazzle, which is fun for bobbin quilting.

In this one you can see the area I started in with actual quilting thread and smaller stitches; it was all right but I like the bolder embroidery floss better.

Finally, this is the back.  It quickly became evident that it was not going to be a two-sided quilt.  While the back looks pretty good (as backs go) it is definitely not another "front."  In the end that was fine with me though, it saved me the trouble of having to work out something else for the label and hanging pocket.

And now, another thing crossed off the UFO list!  I have so many projects I want to start but there are still 4 big ones (#1, 3, 4, and 6) still to go before I start another big something.  I was originally going to work on the dogs next, but I think maybe I'll try to finish #6 first.  We'll see how brave I become with FMQ on the home machine!

1. Purple Medallion Quilt:  Status- top pieced, needs to have faux trapunto and machine quilting.
2. Hawaiian Applique Quilt: Status-top pieced, sandwich made, some quilting done.  Needs to have Zendoodling quilting done and finished.
3. Dog Portraits: Status- two dogs thread painted, need to finish thread painting, assembly, and quilting.
4. Nativity Mosaic Quilt: Status- Mary and Joseph are mosaic-ed, everyone else needs to be tiled in and finished.
5. Visions of God Group Church Quilt: Status- All the blocks but 3 are sitting in a pile on my desk.  I need to get  three more blocks and then assemble/quilt it.
6. Large S Quilt: Status-Top is finished, needs to be blocked and quilted.
7. Small Caryl Fallert Blocks: Status-Miscellaneous blocks need to be quilted/finished and donated.
8. Grandmother's Flower Garden Project: Status-Not even sure what this is going to be, but I have been piecing a bunch of grandmother's flower garden blocks and need to do something with them.

9. Miniature Whole Cloth Quilt: Status-about 2/3ds finished, need to find some ribbon to quilt with and maybe some perl cotton.

Do you guys have any hand quilting projects underway?  What about freehand embroidery?   I enjoyed this project, but probably won't do another one like it for a while!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ruched Pouch and Needle Case

Here are two fun blogland-inspired small projects I whipped up for my mom for her birthday.  The first is a pouch I'd been dying to try for a while.  Ever since I saw this fabulous ruched pouch, I've been excited to try something with gathers and thought this would be a great time.

There's an excellend tutorial for it over on Sew Mama Sew, but I sort of assembled it on the fly.  Basically I cut a piece of muslin the size I wanted my outer panels to be then cut my purple/green/print rectangles a few inches taller than that.  I sewed the print and solid together for each side using great big stitches, and basted along the ends.  Then I gathered up the two ends and the middle, pinned them to the muslin and stitched around the edge using a smaller-than-usual seam allowance (somewhere between 1/8th and 1/4 inch).  I used a decorative stitch to stitch down the gathers in the middle so they didn't flop about and then did the pouch assembly just like usual.

Given my love of color, I couldn't just use the same thing on both sides, so I used a green tone-on-tone floral with the print on one side and a purple tone-on-tone plaid with the print on the other side.  I like the way it came out-and it wasn't any harder to construct than a regular pouch!

The next little project I made was a needle case.  This time I did follow the tutorial over on Sew She Sews and it went swimmingly except that I assembled it upside down.  Since I was making one for me and one for my mom, I actually assembled it upside down TWICE (go Shannon), and was much saddened to have to disassemble it.  It was either that or have the nice quilted part on the back, or have it open on the left.  Yuck.  But in the end it all worked out well.  And bonus- a completed project in a neutral color scheme!  I did do all the quilting before I cut the pieces apart to make the two cases, I wish the quilting motifs had lined up a little better but there you have it.

Hope you enjoy!