red flannel pantry

creative pursuits in the kitchen, garden, library and sewing room

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

on the road again

In a couple of weeks Daughter #1 heads to Northern Ireland to study for a semester, so for Christmas I made her some travel-related gifts.


First, a travel document organizer. I found a helpful tutorial at thimble. It has two zipper pouches and a number of pockets to stash important documents and paperwork. I did add some lightweight interfacing to the exterior fabric cover, and if I were to make another, I might try using slightly heavier interfacing.

I had this terrific fabric . . .


that reminded me of D#1’s most recent artwork . . .


. . . so I used it for the cover.


I came across another great travel gift idea on bee in my bonnet: a suitcase handle wrap. It took only minutes to make. I used the dimensions in the tutorial (5-inch squares of fabric and batting), and it fits D#1’s suitcase perfectly. The design is meant for sewing machine handles, which are not as beefy as suitcase handles, so an additional 1/2 to 1 inch in length might be needed to achieve the best fit. This wrap makes the handle comfy to hold and identifiable on a baggage carousel (though the maroon suitcase itself is distinctive!).


And in her stocking was St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers. He’ll be going along for the ride.

round robin


Although robins don’t eat at the feeders, they do appreciate fresh water in the bird bath. This clan showed up shortly after I cleaned the bird bath and added a couple of pitchers of water.


When they tilt their heads back to swallow, you can appreciate the white ribbing beneath their beaks.

nordic pine pillow


My friend, Jill, is from up north, the daughter of a Lutheran minister of sturdy Swedish stock. When I came across this tutorial for a Scandinavian Christmas tree pillow by Kerry Green, I thought of Jill, of course. I followed the design for the front but used whole pieces for each red strip rather than piecing. Like the original, I fussy-cut a strip of tea cups, a nod to Jill’s beverage of choice. I left off the top and bottom white strips and trimmed to create a 19-inch square. I quilted it with organic (read, wandering) lines using a walking foot. It was free-motion quilting with training wheels–I like the finished look and it wasn’t nearly as anxiety producing as straight-line quilting or FMQing.


For the back, I quilted the top and bottom panels the same way as the front and inserted a zipper in the middle beneath the brown strip. I sewed front and back wrong sides together and then added the red binding. I like that the design can carry from Christmas through Valentine’s Day and beyond if desired.

Curious about our chicken? It (minus the hat and bow) is the work of ceramic artist Jens Morrison (circa late 1960s–early 1970s) and is a favorite piece of Daughter #2’s.

finished dimensions: about 18 1/2″ square; I used an 18″ pillow form

photo memory ornaments


Daughter #2 and her friends are celebrating the holidays and the end of finals (woohoo!) with a secret Santa gift exchange and dinner out tonight. We thought it would be fun to have a little gift for all of the girls, so Daughter #1 joined us in making these photo keepsakes. They can be Christmas tree ornaments or decorations on a bulletin board.

We manipulated the photos on the computer (cropped them and made black and white or sepia) and then printed them out wallet size on cardstock. We trimmed them up and glued them to colored cardstock to make a frame.


I printed little stickers with the date and attached them to the back. We then laminated them in sheets, cut them out, punched holes and added ribbons.

There you go–a quick, inexpensive, personalized homemade gift that celebrates friendships and memories.

another sewing machine cover


Don’t tell my sister-in-law, but I’ve made a sewing machine cover for her too.


I found the perfect fabric from Moda (Mama Said Sew). Terrye is an artist who makes quilt-like paper collages, so this quilt-square name fabric fit the bill.


This time you can see the handle!

Venus and a sewing machine cover


I decided to make a practical gift for a practical friend who sews: a sewing machine cover. A tutorial at sewdelicious was my guide.


Although I love the pieced look of Ros’ cover, since I had this great Keep Calm fabric, I used it as panels rather than piecing charm squares per the tutorial (front and back panels: 10 1/4″ x 18 1/2″; top panel: 8″ x 18 1/2″; side panels: 8″ x 10″). I joined the front, top and back panels and quilted it as one unit. I then assembled as in the tutorial. I used muslin as a backing when I quilted the panels, so I skipped making the lining.


It’s hard to see, but I added a handle on top. For the first time, I machine-stitched the binding down following Rita’s (of Red Pepper Quilt) tutorial. I figured since no one would see the other side of the binding on this project, any wobbles would be safely hidden. The front side of the binding looks great and it took a whole lot less time. However, the back isn’t as nicely finished as I like–I need more practice with that technique before I’ll try it on a quilt.


Since Venus photobombed my first picture, I thought I’d give her a close-up. She’s showing off her holiday garb.

cats in mass production


I continue to work on Elizabeth Hartman’s cat quilt-along.


I did some fussy-cutting on this cat. Once I had him pieced . . .

clockwork orange

I realized he resembles a feline version of Alex in Clockwork Orange!

peanut and snow pizza


This morning when I filled the feeders and birdbath, I scattered some peanuts on a small table on the deck.


All of the birds are enjoying this treat, especially the blue jays.

ho ho ho . . . oh oh oh!


The end of last month, Kerry Green, of verykerryberry and co-author of 500 Quilt Blocks, posted a Ho Ho Ho banner tutorial as part of the Sizzix Christmas blog hop–what a clever and fun idea!

Based on her design, I made this table runner for my friends Kate and Ken, who decorate their home in a big way for the holidays–you should see their Santa collection!

Like Kerry, I used 2-inch squares. I added a 1/2-inch strip between the ho’s, a 1-inch red border (with 1-inch white square keystones) and a 2-inch green border.


On the back I used a busy Christmas print (the better to hid the free-motion quilting, my dear), and I bound it with a white polka dot on gray–if you squint, it kind of looks like falling snow at dusk.


What both Kate and I find amusing is that if you view the runner from the opposite side, the ho ho ho becomes oh oh oh! We wondered how this message should best be interpreted: should it be the oh oh oh of holiday overwhelm and stress . . . or the oh oh oh of Christmas anticipation and celebration? We opt for the latter!

finished dimensions: 12 1/2″ x 43″

soft kitty, warm kitty . . .


So far I’m keeping pace with Oh Fransson’s Cat Quilt-Along.


The Day 3 cat, Sunny, with its one-sided eye patch, reminded me of my first cat, Black Patch. I swapped the position of the patch to match Black Patch’s and I fussy-cut the kitty fabric for her chin.

black patch linda's cat 8.1973

Do you see the resemblance? (Don’t you just dig the circa 1973 bedroom, with the shag carpet and creepy oversized stuffed panda?! I think I took this picture with the instamatic camera I received for my 11th birthday.) We adopted Black Patch when she showed up on the back patio of our first house in Ho-Ho-Kus NJ. She moved with us to Connecticut and then to Massachusetts. From here she wandered off, and despite the many prayers made by my 12-year-old self to St. Jude (patron saint of lost causes), she never returned–my first experience of the heartbreaking loss of a pet.


For today’s cat, Mia, I had fun fussy-cutting fabric again. Can you see the suggestion of eyes and whiskers? I admire her rakish charm–she looks like she’s wearing a gypsy scarf on her head.

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