Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Elephants and Pattern Modification

In my flurry of pregnancy sewing last year, I decided to make a security blanket animal. Two of my nieces have bunny blankets and they love them. I found a pattern for a bear blanket on Pinterest. Linked here. I had some furry fleece left over from the wookie doll and I thought it would work great for a bear. I didn't want to make the whole thing brown so instead of going to the store, I (as usual) went to my stash. I found a box of velour Mom gave me during one of her clutter purges.

The pieces were blue, blue-gray, and gray. I figured I would use the blue for the bear blanket and I wondered what I would do with the gray. I know, an elephant. I cut out the pattern for the bear and using the pattern I cut out the arms, front and back head in gray, then modified the pattern to make the ears bigger and elephant shaped and a big curled trunk.

I just had to match the sides of the pattern that attached to the head. I cut the trunk wider than the bear snout since the trunk is two pieces instead of one and needed a seam allowance.

 Actually I cut out fabric for two elephant heads. I thought I could make a bunch of animal blankets to give away at baby showers. I sewed up the the first elephant and the bear and I was a little tired. (I was tired my whole pregnancy, some days all I did was eat and sleep.) so I put everything aside for a bit, then when I came back to the second elephant, I changed my mind and decided to make a whole stuffed elephant.I just didn't have a pattern and my brain was too tired to come up with one, so again I searched Pintrest. I found an elephant pattern. Linked here. The head on that pattern is completely different and I couldn't get the pattern to print the size I needed so I used graph paper and drew it out by hand.

 I also shortened the neck since my elephant head had a neck. I sewed up the body and tested the head against the finished head of my elephant blanket and decided I had a problem, the head was a bit small for the body. I cut out a new head from my pattern, but with an additional 1/2 inch around the outside edge for both the front and back. I kept the ears and trunk the same as before. I stuffed the body and the head and sewed them together by hand.

The trunk sticks out almost straight when stuffed so I  hand-stitched along the inside curl and and pulled tight. The curl is anchored on both ends with knots and back-stitching.

I gave the elephant blanket away to my nephew, and kept the bear and whole elephant for my boy. It worked out because my friend and neighbor gave me a fleece blanket with a matching elephant security blanket, so baby has one of each animal blankie anyway.

It's a little funny actually, Baby has been given several elephant toys and I needn't have made him one at all.

Whatever, they're cute and he will probably love all his elephants.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How to Make a Wookie from a Doll Pattern

This is a bit late. I meant to post this before the new Star Wars movie came out, but Star Wars doesn't go out of style so no worries.

Back before I found out if I was having a boy or a girl I decided to make a wookie doll. I knew it would be a hit either way. There weren't any wookie patterns, not that I liked or were for free anyway, so I made one. The trick is to modify an existing pattern. I used a doll pattern I had on hand.

The pattern can be followed as is except for the head and torso. Chewie's long hair makes him look like he doesn't have a neck and maybe if you have a faux fur with long nap you wouldn't have to modify your pattern at all but I was using a furry fleece with a very short nap.

Tip: When using fabric with a nap, like fleece or fur, keep a big lint roller and a vacuum handy, and take your allergy pills before hand.

I placed the pieces over some junk mail for scrap paper. I folded the head in half and overlapped it over the torso to where the it would have been if the head were attached to the neck (approx.) I squared the top of the head a bit and cut straight down from the widest point of the head to the shoulder. I also widened the shoulders a little. (This is a full grown wookie, not a little girl.) The long straight line of the pattern piece is placed on the fold. Cut one.

 I did the same with the back. Cut two.

 I followed the pattern instructions for the remainder of the doll, except for the arms. I didn't have any doll joints to have movable arms so I just stuffed and attached the arms to the sides before sewing the front to the back.

 I used shoe button style eyes for the eyes and a size larger shoe button eye for the nose. The teeth are a bit of felt.

The bandolier (or as I like to think of it, "wookie-purse") is made of felt.

The strap is made of an 18 in. x 3/4 in. strip of black felt. I cut white pieces that are alternating 1/2 in. x 3/4 in. and 1/4 in. x 3/4 in. and placed them approx. 1/4 in. apart leaving about an inch on both ends with no white pieces. I pinned the white pieces down to the black piece and sewed a straight stitch down the length of  both sides. I then sewed a wide seam stitch of black thread down the center of the strip for the complete bandolier strap look. (Measurements are for an 18 in. Wookie.)

The bag is made of brown felt and I included a very rough pattern. Sew around the edges of the two large pieces. Attach the side strip to the small side first. (The picture cut off the end of the strip, but just make sure it is long enough to go around the sides of the small side.) Then sew the strip to half of the large side. Take the ends of the strap and taper them to match the sides of the sides of the bag and sew them down to each side. You can just place the bandolier on the wookie or sew it to his shoulder if you are afraid of losing it.

Bandolier Bag

Fun Fact:
The original Chewie costume was made of yak fur, and the current ones are made of synthetic fur but they wear out fast because no one can resist hugging a wookie.

My little guy is still too small to care about most of his toys but we played with it a bit for a photo shoot on his first day home from the hospital.

Chewie, were home.
Next time: Elephants

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Salem Witch Trials and Family

Now days we think of witches as fictional workers of magic that can be bad or good, depending on the story. They usually look different than others and dress in a particular way.
I'll get you, my pretty!
Early Americans brought their European traditions of a physically present devil that looked like the pagan god Pan (horned, hooved and goaty) with them to America. that devil walked the earth tempting people to sell their souls. Witches were evil women or men that had sold their souls and worked magic to hurt others. Many women that were accused had had many children die in their families. (Losing children at a time when high childhood mortality was common wasn't enough, they had to suffer accusations as well.) 
Witches supposedly looked like everyone else.

I've been messing about with  www.relativefinder.org. On it, I find how I'm related to historical and or famous individuals. The information is only as accurate as my family tree entered on www.familysearch.org. This website is free and in run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You don't have to be a member of the church to use it. A lot of info has been entered by millions of people so if you can enter just a few generations worth of your family tree you can usually find a link to more generations. Live people won't show up on the trees unless you enter them and then will only show on your own account as a security measure. Women are listed by their maiden names and that can either make them easier to find or harder, depending on the records.

On the Mayflower relatives I found a new ancestor that I hadn't found before. Francis Eaton who I'm related to on my dad's side. It also shows John Billington as an ancestor. There are several of my direct ancestors that are listed as 12th or 11th great uncles because Mayflower passengers are listed on familysearch so many times, that sometimes with variation in birth date and place of birth or death that relativefinder can't confirm an actual link to an event like the Mayflower. So it isn't a perfect system but it is interesting.

Anyway, it also has a list of my relatives that were a part of the Salem Witch Trials. Though this was an infamous event of hysteria and paranoia that historians and psychologists can't quite pin it down, there doesn't seem to be a single or easy explanation. Whatever the explanation, it was a situation that started small and got carried too far, people died, people's lives were destroyed. Most of the women accused had many children and their lives had to have been so painful with the stigma and poverty that came with it. The relatives I found are mostly distant cousins, only one was a direct ancestor. Each of the people have an interesting story. I don't have the time to include them all so I'll provide a link to their histories where I can find them.

I have relatives from the Salem Witch Trials on both sides of my family. There are less on the Rushton side so I'll start there.

Rushton relatives:

Elizabeth Hutchinson Hart 10th great grandmother. Indicted by grand jury but released after 7 months in jail after her son Thomas filed petitions. More of her story here.

Mary Perkins Bradbury 1st cousin 11 times removed. Convicted but escaped, returned to Salem after the hysteria. More of her story here.

William Hobbs 1st cousin 11 times removed. Accused but reprieved.
Abigail Hobbs 2nd cousin 10 times removed. Accused, confessed, convicted, but reprieved. Their story here.

Deliverance Hazelton (Hazeltine) Dane 2nd cousin 10 times removed, convicted but escaped. More of her story here.

Joseph Herrick  2nd cousin 13 times removed. Magistrate at trials.

John Hale 4th cousin 10 times removed. Clergy of Beverly, Massachusetts. He initially supported the trials but later changed his mind and published a critique. More here.

John Hawthorne 5th cousin 9 times removed. Magistrate at trials. More here.

Thomas Danforth 6th cousin 7 times removed. Justice of Superior Court of Judicature 1693. He was against the practices and spectral evidence allowed in the earlier trial. More here.

Nicolas Noyes 5th cousin 10 times removed. Clergy of Salem, official minister of the trials. More here.

Shirts relatives:

Martha Ingalls Allen Carrier 1st cousin 10 times removed. Convicted and executed August 19, 1692. More here.

Susannah North Martin 1st cousin 13 times removed. Convicted and executed July 19, 1692. More here.

Margaret Kinsey Stephenson Scott 2nd cousin 12 times removed. Convicted and executed September 22, 1692. More here.

George Burroughs 3rd cousin 11 times removed. Convicted and executed August 19, 1692. More here.

Sarah Averell Wildes 8th great aunt. Convicted and executed July 19, 1692. More here.

Edward Bishop 4th cousin 7 times removed. Accused but escaped. More here.

Sarah Towne Cloyce 3rd cousin 11 times removed. Accused but never indicted. More here.

Waitstill Winthrop 1st cousin 10 times removed. Justice and magistrate at trial. More here.

Elizabeth Bassett Proctor 1st cousin 11 times removed. Convicted but pardoned due to pregnancy.
William Proctor 2nd cousin 10 times removed. Accused but not indicted.
Sarah Proctor 2nd cousin 10 times removed. Accused but not indicted. More of their story here.

John Alden Jr. 4th cousin 11 times removed. Accused but escaped. More here.

Mary Wolcott 2nd cousin 10 times removed. One of the "afflicted" girls that accused others and gave spectral evidence. More here.

So here I have relatives both accusers and accused and I can only consider the terrible strain everyone felt and hope I never get caught up in a witch hunt of any kind in my own life.

UPDATE: I'm adding Alan's Salem Witch Trial ancestors as well.

Stemmons relatives:

Relatives Alan and I have in common:
John Hawthorne 4th cousin, 9 times removed.
Edward Bishop 6th cousin 7 times removed.
Thomas Danforth 6th cousin 9 times removed.
John Alden Jr. 7th cousin, 9 times removed.
John Hale 9th cousin 5 times removed.
Mary Walcott 9th cousin 6 times removed.
Nicolas Noyes 10th cousin 5 times removed.
Elizabeth Hutchinson Hart 6th cousin 9 times removed.

Relatives not in common:
Elizabeth Jackson Howe 11th great aunt. Convicted and executed July 19, 1692. More here.

Rebecca Blake Eames 3rd cousin 9 times removed. Convicted but released. More here.

Susanah Sheldon 6th cousin 7 times removed. One of the "afflicted" girls that accused others and gave spectral evidence. More here.

Thomas Putnam 6th cousin 7 times removed. Initiated legal proceedings of witch trials by the word of his daughter. More here.
Ann Putnam Jr. 7th cousin 6 times removed.  One of the "afflicted" girls that accused others and gave spectral evidence. More here.

Nathanial Saltonstall 7th cousin 8 times removed. Magistrate at trial but resigned over the nature of the trial. more here.

Yates relatives:

Relatives in common:
Waitstill Winthrop 3rd cousin 12 times removed.

Relative not in common:
Sarah Wildes Bishop 3rd cousin 10 times removed. Convicted but escaped. More here.

Next time: I'll actually show the wookie I made for my baby, I just thought it would be cuter next to my actual baby. So I'll wait a few more weeks until he's born to post that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Happy Birthday Quilt

I have seen some adorable birthday buntings out there and I wanted something similar to hang up for our family birthdays. Alan and I have our birthdays three days apart in the winter but Baby Boy's birthday will be early in the autumn. I like the idea of making birthdays special since I insist on celebrating my birthday no matter how old I get. I decided to use a wall hanging with a mini bunting for decoration instead of a full sized bunting. I used felt for the appliques and hand drew and cut out letters. Felt is stiff enough to not need fusible webbing and I'm pretty sure I couldn't have ironed it anyway. I pinned it down and machine sewed it in place. The background and boarders are cotton fabrics from my stash that were the closest match I had to the colors of the felt.

 I free handed the quilting around the letters, balloons, and mini bunting. The bunting isn't sewn down. I threaded the pennants onto a thin yarn that I knotted on the ends and sewed the knots into the side seams. I pinned the pennants down to quilt around them but let them hang free when hung up. I do fold the wall hanging very carefully for storage to not crease the pennants.

 I cut out pieces of felt into balloon shapes and pinned them down on the boarders as a template to quilt around so I could make sure the loops were symmetrical. I used a larger piece for the corners and center top and bottom and a smaller one for the rest of the boarder and just just moved them around as needed. I used pins to mark the center of where each balloon shape would be to keep the spacing even.

The finished quilt is 29 x 32 inches.

Next time: a cuddly stuffed wookie for baby.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Dream Keeper Quilt

Long ago and not so far away, I worked at a fabric store. I accumulated a lot of fabric and spent my down time designing quilts. I had an idea for a poetry quilt series. I went through poetry books, scriptures, and songs looking for short lines that could be used on a quilt. I got the idea from my illustration training. I did several illustrations for poetry. I've given most of the illustrations away now and most of the quilts were never made.

My favorite short poem is The Dream Keeper by Langston Hughes. He was a Harlem Renaissance poet and wrote both beautiful and political poetry. I always loved the nurturing language of this poem. While in college I did a water color illustration for the poem using some of my nieces and a nephew as models wrapped in blue blankets. I loved that painting but I gave it to their parents so they could have a painting of their children.

A year after college I was working at a job with lots of isolation and down time. I dealt with it again by designing quilts. The temple snowflake quilt was designed at that time and I printed out the words for The Dream Keeper quilt. I traced the over sized letters from the printed page onto fabric and used fusible webbing to get them ready to iron onto the final design. I cut out each letter individually and this took weeks. I needed to move to a new apartment at this point and the letters were all carefully put away.

Every now and then I would find the pile of letters in my sewing supplies and I would revisit the design. I have never done so many designs for a single quilt. It was going to be a picture quilt of a mother and child with the words of the poem circling the borders or dancing around the picture or something artsy. The design would depend on the size of the quilt since the letters were already cut out. The letters while small for applique purposes but were huge for design purposes and I didn't really want a huge quilt. Finally last year (Eight years after cutting out the letters.) I decided to just get it done already. I was making a crib sized quilt and I liked the sentiment of the poem for a baby. I had just had another miscarriage and I wanted to keep busy and positive rather than wallow in pain for months like I did the first time. I designed a quilt using fabric from my years-old stash and made it very simple. (It had to be simple to fit all those large letters onto such a small quilt.) I used blues and golds and finished the quilt last summer. I lost my camera for months and by the time I found it I forgot about posting my quilt.

 This is a bit blurry and the quilt had been folded and put away for over a year when I took the picture, sorry.
 The finished quilt size 45 x 36 inches.

Corner detail. 
Just think of all the fun I had tracing, ironing, cutting out, peeling off the paper, machine stitching and then hand quilting around every single letter. Good times. This is my first and probably last poetry quilt.

This quilt should work great for my baby boy when he is born in the fall.

Next time: The Happy Birthday Quilt

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring Has Sprung Quilt

 I always get so excited for Spring even though it means the return of hay fever. Whatever, I'm happy to see the sun again and plants. Out back among the cows, calves start appearing in the field. One was born not forty feet from me, I saw it through the kitchen window last year. Sweet and wonderful and a little gross at the same time. (That summarizes a great deal of nature for me.)

I was in the mood for a new Spring Quilt. I thought of the poem my family used to quote.

Spring has sprung, de grass has riz.
I wonder where dem boidies is?
De boid is on de wing,
but dats absoid, de wing is on de boid.

There are apparently many versions of this poem, it's an untitled, traditional poem that originated in the New Jersey/Brooklyn area. It is sometimes attributed to Ogden Nash.

 Crocus are the first flowers of Spring and usually pop up out of the snow to say Hi.
They are so very reassuring.

 Forsythia is such a bright happy flower. My Mom can never see a forsythia bush in bloom without saying "Forsooth, forsythia!" Now I can never pass one without thinking it.

 I love blooming fruit trees, so so pretty.

 My favorite flower and favorite blooming tree, the Magnolia. I always called them tulip trees as a kid since the blossoms so resemble tulips.(Apparently a lot of other people do too, according to Google.) It wasn't until I was in Indiana where I saw real tulip trees, that I knew the difference. Real tulip trees have very small orange/yellow blossoms that are cup shaped and are a bit of a comedown after the gorgeous Magnolia.

 Iris have a kind of grace about them. The French made them their royal symbol, the fleur de lis.
I only wished they bloomed longer.

I'm just highlighting the grass here. I love it when the grass becomes green again.

I didn't mention the lilacs, which are the only one of these flowers I actually have in my yard so far. The finished quilt is 26 x 32 inches. It is backed and bound by the darker purple fabric. I used a fusible web for all my appliques in my usual draw it, trace it, iron it, cut it, peel it, place it, iron it, zigzag stitch around it method. The forsythia block wins at 45 pieces, the most pieces in a single block. I used three purple, four pink, three green, and two yellow fabrics. I used a yellow quilting thread. My color choices were influenced by this wreath I made.

I happened to be at Michael's one day in January when the Spring flower garlands were 50% off so I bought an apple blossom and forsythia (forsooth) and I had a great time winding them into each other. then I wrapped a foam ring in brown fabric and wired on the garlands. I decided it needed more color so I bought two sprigs of lilacs from Walmart for about $.50 each, cut them up and wove them into the garlands.

Happy Spring!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Valentine's Day Quilt

 St. Valentine's Day. It started as a Roman free love holiday that involved exchanging cards that the Christians tamed and renamed for the martyr Valentine. Valentine, a champion of legitimized relationship love was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. (That abridged history is for those of you that believe Hallmark invented Valentine's Day to sell more cards.) 

I know that Valentine's Day is now a controversial holiday. To some it is Single Awareness Day as those who have love already seem to smugly rub it in their noses. To men in relationships it is Relationship Judgment Day and they feel the pressure to spend lots of money and give the right gift in the right way to not disappoint their lady. To women in relationships it is a day of hearts and roses and attention and love. These are generalities of course, and may or may not be accurate for you.

 I spent most of my Valentine's Days without anyone to love or who loved me in "that way", yet I loved it all the same. I loved the hearts, flowers, delicious chocolates, red and pink and white, the cheesy cards, and most of all the idea that some day I would have someone to share a great love with me. I am lucky enough to now be married to my loving husband, but we don't do much for Valentine's day. This is because our birthdays are only three days apart and only a few days before Valentine's Day. A few weeks before that, we celebrate our anniversary, so by the time we get to Valentine's Day we are celebrated out. Alan usually still gets me flowers since I love roses and we call it a day.

It feels a bit early for Valentine's Day decor. Stores have had it up since December 26 but they are retailers and need to fill their space with something that will sell. I haven't put this quilt up on my wall yet and won't for at least another week. 

We'll start with my sketch, of hearts, birds, flowers, and a cheesy saying.

I didn't stick to the sketch religiously, I never do.

 I employed a great many buttons, bits of wool, polyester knits, 

 cotton knits, cotton woven cloth, yarns

 machine applique, and hand applique.

The finished quilt in 25 x 30 inches.

It was all quite fun with the different techniques involved. I cut out the birds, but used an even cheesier saying. I finished it back in July and have waited this long to show it off to be closer to the actual holiday.