Birthday Potholders – Amy Butler Style

While in Cycle class on Saturday morning, I had a spark of panic and then a spark of creativity.  For a moment I was convinced that I had forgotten — completely forgotten — my friend Becky’s birthday.  The landmark of MLK day and a previous birthday celebration in 2008 over the long weekend concerned me and my timeliness.  That was the panic part, then I decided that I might as well get a little crafty over the current long weekend, knowing Becky would easily forgive me. Throughout that class and the next one, I played around with what to make and how to make it.  Yes, I was THAT excited.

As it turns out, I hadn’t missed her birthday at all, and there were a lot of exciting ideas on thelongthread.com to explore.  After perusing the options, I decided to craft up some potholders, adapted from a tutorial on sew mama sew.  Going through my crate of scraps, I came across the fabric from my Sampler Quilt — which is still incomplete, ahem. The fabric is predominantly Amy Butler’s designs.

After looking at the pieces available I decided to start with 2 1/2 inch strips of varying varieties.  I cut a few strips and sewed a lot together (yes, that’s my approximation) along the 2 1/2 inch width side.  It was just one long string — almost looked like a flag.

I snipped apart each sewed piece and then sew them together, again, until I had one long continuous strip of fabric about 2 1/2 inches in width.

The next step was to iron or press along the folds. Ideally, I would have finger pressed and then iron pressed, but I just didn’t care that much for accuracy.  This is a tedious step, but 30 Rock On Demand certainly helped.

I then cut the 2 1/2 inch strips into 9 inch segments.  I sewed about 4 or 5 strips together, along the 9 inch length side.  I managed to get about 4 squares out of this.  I “squared” up the squares making sure that each was a true square with straight edges.  One pattern suggested having the front and back of the patchwork, but I opted for quantity over quality and used large 9 inch square solid pieces for the back.  I pinned the patchwork square and solid square together on a 9 inch square of batting.

The fabric fronts were facing together first and then that was pinned on the batting. Imagine it this way:  Place one fabric square, right side up, on the backing.  Next place another fabric square, right side down (the right sides are essentially facing each other) on top of the first square.  Pin.

I probably should have used some specialized insulation batting, but Becky, just beware.

Next, I sewed three of the four sides together, and then turned it inside out.  This made the batting inside and the right sides facing outward.  I pressed the loose ends inside with about 1/4 inch seam and sewed tight.  I opted to sew a fabric loop in the end in case Becky wants to hang it…

Next came the quilting part.  I opted to quilt length wise across the quilt rather than every single square.  I pressed the entire potholder beforehand which made this much easier, especially with the help of the quilting foot.

And, Voila!  The potholders are completed!  I wish I could say the same for the quilt.

The Crafty Clevering Family

Let the record show… that not only are there 4 attorneys and 1 teacher in our family, but many of us sew, craft, bake, etc.  As noted previously our Gami is phenomenal with all spectacular things with fruit:  applesauce, various crisps and pies, and of course, how can we forget the jam!  It’s rumored that our Aunt Barbara made her own wedding rings out of beaded flowers, strung together with fishing line.  I think I even heard that my Uncle learned how to knit once too!  My dad, well, Jim crafted all sorts of things like fillings for people and quite a few “traps” for furry animals (Fur, Fish and Game published a recent literary memory of his…) and I also have distinct memories of him building several birdhouses for the bluebirds of rural Oklahoma, and my mom, no doubt made many a Halloween costume (Tom & Jerry along with Babar & Celeste), some angel costumes for Nativity scenes, and probably a pioneer dress or two which were worn at the April Oklahoma Land Run celebrations — before her sewing machine (a trusty olive green Singer) gave up on her.

And, as proof, here’s the needlepoint she made for Marie, to commemorate her birth!

And, well, to graciously allow many of us to be embarrassed, here are a few more discoveries we made while in Seattle over the holidays:

Marie with her collection of "Boyd's" bears

Please note, this one is "Retired" -- sure to be worth something some day.

Karen (me) with Anna "Bear"enina -- yes modeled after Anna Karenina

This is what happens when you’re my co-worker, and you have a birthday.

I’ve never been one to love Halloween.  It can seem like a waste to spend a lot of money on some gaudy costume to wear for one night, and you have to buy your own candy when you come of  age.  No one really rewards you for a good costume but yourself. 

Then again, I love decorating and going all out for themes for other people.  This often happens around birthdays for my co-workers.  It’s just the perfect way to bring a little levity into the office.  A few years ago, my co-workers and I would always do some kind of bizarre birthday theme to decorate the cubes of our co-workers.  One year my cube was decorating with my face plastered on all sorts of triathletes.  Another co-worker, who had a thing for a certain movie star had his face plastered all over her cube.  I’m glad that I fell into another job that lets me be a little juvenile and giddy regarding decorating, especially now that I have a whole office to decorate!

For a little background, my co-worker is working on something deals with frogs.  Nothing specific here, but it deals with a lot of frogs and it makes her head ache and ache and ache.  It was the perfect theme for her birthday.  I took that idea and just ran with it.

There are plenty of poor people around the world making junk and trash for me to buy to decorate.  I supported them this past week.  Not only did I find 480 frog stickers, but I also found this bizarre, grotesque frog that was gooey and expanded in strange directions when squeezed.  I used the stickers to make her a birthday sign and the scattered the remaining across her desk (I know her well enough to know that she wouldn’t be annoyed with the extra “flair” but cheered by its ridiculousity). 

Here are a few shots of the results.  Friends and co-workers alike, beware and be forewarned.

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a little home decor…

I cannot go into any more crafts stores.  It’s too dangerous on my wallet. It’s a good thing the 3 day weekend is nearly over…

A few years ago, I bought a wall hanging that used small clothespins to hang pictures.  It was overly-priced and purchased at an art museum in London.  When I got home to put it together, it was a massive knot that never untangled.   I wanted to fix it but never did (oh, those law school days).

When I first moved into my apartment, I decided that I was going to improvise something similar to fill up some empty space.  From the “clothesline” I would hang pictures and cards — make that “craft room” look homey.

This afternoon, I was wandering through Michael’s, looking for something, anything to make the plain, wooden clothespins just a litte more interesting.  In their scrapbooking section they had these cardboard decals and stickers (just behind the Martha Stewart section, big surprise).  They were perfect for my project:  ready made quotes and single words that nicely correspond to pictures and momentos.  Soon enough I found some cheap ribbon.

I used a basic glue stick to glue the paper on the clothespins.  What a selection!

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I then strung the ribbon across the wall.  I wanted to have it casually hung, but the clothespins were a little too heavy and flopped upside down, just kind of ruining the effect.  I solved it by pulling it tight and tacking it up pushpins.

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I’ve saved some good cards over the past few months and then alternated from some pictures — that have yet to go into a scrapbook.

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It’s not the most sophisticated look, but I like it.  It might be nice in a nursery of sorts for “welcome baby cards” or even at Christmas to string up the Christmas cards.