Thursday, April 3, 2014

Handmade Gifts

Do you find it hard to come up with new ideas for gift giving?  If you know the person well, and have some idea of their interests and hobbies, it puts you a little ahead of the game.  But even then it is difficult to come up with fresh ideas each time a birthday rolls around.

My daughter relieves me of that responsibility.  She has a birthday this week and she gave me ample notice of what she would like to receive.

She is a huge proponent of children's literacy and has a double Master's degree in Elementary Education Administration, and Communication with an emphasis in Reading.  She spent several years working in Elementary Education.  Now as a mother of a three year old, and another son who will turn two this week, she uses her skills to develop these young minds and inspire them to love to read, or, be read to as is the case for now.

She also started a literacy blog two plus years ago.  It is called Growing Book By Book, and is her way of offering ideas and information to anyone involved with a child's early education.  That brings me back to the, "What would you like for your birthday?" question.  Or in her case, "Mom, I would love it if you would make me a blanket for my birthday." 

She is planning a story book time in the park this summer for anyone who would like to join.  The blanket is where the kids will sit as they listen to her read to them. That got the wheels turning.

 I found these Dr. Seuss panels at and decided that would be my inspiration for the quilt.  The blocks are representations of pages taken from three different books written by Dr. Seuss.

Oh, the Places You'll go!
The Lorax
Green Eggs and Ham

There were ten pages per book, so thirty pages in all for this quilt.  I washed the fabric and cut the pages apart.  Then ironed them and pressed in the hems.

Then came cutting the strips to divide the pages.  This was a mathematical nightmare as the page blocks ranged from 10 1/2 x 6 3/4 to 10 x 7 inches. That meant making up the difference, plus or minus, with the strips.

Next came sewing them together.  It was challenging to remember to be constantly watching carefully to always have right sides together.  I goofed a couple times trying to sew at dusk and not turning on a light when I should have.

Another factor to keep in mind was to make sure all pages of the book were right side up.

It was easy to get confused in the rush to beat the birthday deadline.

Add to that having the bobbin thread run out, and not realizing it until you sewed the entire width of the quilt.  It was definitely an exercise in staying in the moment.

But I was off and away.  Somehow this was going to come together.  I had somewhat of a plan on paper but that went out the window pretty quickly.

Of course, I also needed to keep the page blocks in the correct order as I sewed them in strips.  Again, focus, focus, focus!

The next question was, "What do I use for a backing?"  I had this on my mind throughout, and was trying to think of something that would work well outdoors.  I had to have something that would not pick up grass and leaves.  It also needed to be something that would wash easily.

I had noticed in the blog world that people were using canvas painter's cloths as slip covers and I had been thinking of trying that myself, but just had not had a project that fit that look.  I decided this was it.  The size I bought was slightly larger than the finished quilt top and I thought I might be able to to wrap the back to the front as a binding.  However, once it was washed and dried, the width was within a 1/2 inch of the top.

So I used the factory hem in the dropcloth and zigzaged a seam along the edge of my top fabric.  I was able to fold the top down 4 inches and keep the factory hem there.  On the bottom, the corners had pulled up some, so I ripped that hem out and adjusted it to fold 2 inches to the front.  (FYI: the painter's cloth was very easy to work with and for $11, a real bargain.)

I found a three inch alphabet stencil at Michael's that fit nicely along the top border.  (Incidentally, Michael's has a very good selection of alphabet stencils.  At my location they have put some with their acrylic paints and others a couple aisles over with drawing supplies.  Luckily I overhead someone talking about this and discovered exactly what I needed in the second aisle.)

I mixed textile medium with my acrylic paint in a 1:2 ratio.

And was able to get the name of Jodie's blog onto the top border.
I finished the project with one day to spare.  That gave me time to find all the pins I missed, cut all the loose threads I missed,  and wrap the package. 


She was very happy with her quilt and....

so was the little one.

What about my "almost two" year old grandson?   I bought him a doctor's kit complete with stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. 

This will come in handy as he looks after his stuffed animals in his Veterinarian Clinic.

 The handmade parts of his gift are the sleeping pillows I made for the animals to rest on while they recover.

Yes, I let him open his present a few days early.  Grandmas have that option.