Thursday, December 15, 2011

big cat quilt week

whenever it's getting close to time for a big holiday or the end of the school year, kids tend to get twitchy and have a hard time concentrating on school work. it's almost a losing battle to try to do anything that will require serious brain activity, so i decided that this week, our last school year of 2011, we would spend the week learning about big cats. national geographic has a channel that's all animal shows all the time and this week their theme is big cats, so that was my inspiration. i knew brooke would love it and it was the perfect way to spring board us into a short unit study about a topic that won't be difficult to keep her engaged in. we cleared the shelf in the library for all their big cat books, we've been watching lots of educational shows and we've been making christmas presents for our people.

this was also a good way for me to have enough time sitting still when i wasn't exhausted or straining my eyes for hours in the evenings to work on some of the projects that i've got going for gifts. the big one that i just finished yesterday is a quilt i made for my niece's american girl doll. since i can't spend much money this year, i've been finding things i could give that were free or almost free and this was the perfect thing.

i dug through my baskets of fabric for scraps and pieces that color coordinated and then cut enough squares to make a little blanket just big enough for the doll. i took some pictures of the process from start to finish.

this thing is made out of an old pair of jeans, a skirt, a dress, old pajamas, remnant bin scraps from hobby lobby, bits from my mom's sewing basket, 2 receiving blankets and a piece of fabric that i rescued from the trash in a house i used to clean.

as you can see, i did some ironing to flatten seams, but i couldn't be bothered to get out a real iron, so i just used my curling iron. this is the perfect tool for ironing other little things like collars and the front line along the buttons on a button down shirt too.

i'm very happy with the end result. i did every stitch by hand, most of them sewn while sitting on my floor in front of the tv or while curled in a corner of the couch.

i kind of wish brooke liked stuff like this so that i could give it to her in order to see it more often, but she really just doesn't give a crap. she looks at dolls the way most little girls look at giant rubber spiders. she admired the quilt but reminded me not to get any funny ideas about giving to her because she didn't want it.

hopefully it will be well received by another little girl who loves all things girlie and pretty. now i just need to get it wrapped before one of my cats claims it and decides to curl up for a long winter's nap.


  1. BOO YAH THAT QUILT IS FREAKING AWESOME! No seriously, I love it, and I'm so inspired that you did it all by hand. As you know, Sherilinnie, I am a moron with my sewing machine, so you have given me HOPE that I too could make something beautiful.

  2.'s lovely.. and I didn't know about the curling iron..what a great idea! I am guessing a straightening iron would work as well.. cool!

  3. kar, my sewing machine went kaput on my last big project, so unless i want to hitchhike to my parents house, i have to sew by hand. and i remind myself that people used to sew all their fabric things like blankets and clothes by hand under the light of a lantern & probably using a porcupine quill for a needle. it's definitely possible if you just feel like bothering hard enough.

    sprite, a straigtening iron would probably work even better. i don't have one, but i'm sure it would be perfect. makes it easy for traveling or when you're in a hurry and just have a small problem area.

  4. That is so cute! You are so creative!

  5. I love that quilt - so adorable and all sewn by hand - you are amazing!!! I lack that kind of patience. LOVE LOVE homemade gifts!! They speak volumes about the love that goes into them!!

  6. thanks, eva. it's kind of fun to challenge myself to try new projects periodically and to do them in a nontypical way. like, never using a pattern. or having no plan as i go into it so that i have to wing it every step of the way.

    laughingmom, i have come to appreciate homemade gifts since i became an adult and realized how much harder it is to make something for someone than to just go to a store & buy something. purchasing is much faster and easier than making it so it doesn't have the same level of value.

  7. Call me stupid if you wish, but I was rather hoping you were gonna make some big kitties.

  8. That quilt's actually awesome, it's extremely well put together and obviously takes a lot of crafting talent!

  9. Exactly something that I would do! With the exception of the hand stitching because I have no patience. It's really too bad you don't live around here or visit NY more often. I have an older sewing machine that still works fine that you would be welcome to have. I mean, really, it is only thanks to your family that I can sew in the first place! Does your brother still live around here? And does he ever take the trip down?

  10. That quilt is the best idea ever. And the iron is genius. I hope she likes it.

  11. Man Aspie girls are NOT girlie! I soooo get this.

    Now, let me tell you, how happy I am that you used whatever you could find to make such a special, pretty, little gift. You're my kinda lady! And it looks so perfect. I have never quilted, aside from that scrappy one for Maddy, in my life. I have never lined up pretty squares and I don't know how you even do it! I'm in awe! Did you put real quilt batting in there?

    I am trying to make stuff from nothing too. Anything to not spend money. Plus, it is just so wasteful!

  12. Now go put on a cute hat, because you're crazy if you think you wouldn't look cute! You're adorable...with a huge rack!

  13. I think you should make me a tutorial. Video is good! hehe...

    and can you send me your address???

  14. Well I think it's brilliant. Best Tip of the year!

  15. A Penwasser Cat Primer
    Lions: Live in Africa, zoos, circuses, Oz, Disney films. Eat gazelles, zebras, slow moving natives.
    Tigers: Live in Las Vegas, India, and on front of cereal boxes. Can be made to run so fast around a tree that they turn into butter. By a boy named "Little Black Sambo." Who isn't African, despite how he's drawn. By people who are clearly racist. And who all look alike.
    Cheetahs: Run fast. Eats things which are not as fast. I think they're endangered. Look like skinny leopards. Species Spokescat: Chester Cheeto.
    Leopards: The most dangerous creatures in Africa. Behind Moammaar Qadhafi. Oh, my bad. THE most dangerous creature in Africa. Look like fat cheetahs.
    Jaguars: Live in Central and South America, Jacksonville, and in driveways of rich middle-aged men who wear gold chains and V-Neck shirts.
    Panthers: Live in Charlotte. And I think they play hockey. And wasn't that a panther in 'A Jungle Book?' Also known as "Puma," "Leopard," "Mountain Lion," "Jaguar," and "Really Quick and Dangerous Frikkin' Squirrel."
    Puma: Sneaker.
    Lynx: Missing.
    Cougar: Courtney Cox, Kim Cattrall, Demi Moore.
    Mountain Lion: Eats berries, hikers, garbage. And I ain't lion.
    Ocelot: Nobody really knows.
    Saber Tooth Tiger: Extinct. Except in He-Man cartoons and 'Ice Age.'
    Bobcat: Construction equipment.
    Housecats: Crap in a box inside your house.

  16. symdaddy, i've tried making stuffed animals and failed miserably, so no more kitty making for me.

    yeamie, thank you. i try to be talented. wait, is having to try the opposite of talent?

    leanne, if i ever make a trip up north when i have wheels of my own, i definitely want to see you. and not just for the sewing machine either. =)

    lizbeth, i like the iron idea myself. it's very rare for me to get out a real iron anymore, but i use my curling iron on clothes fairly often when i've got a little trouble spot on clothes.

    daniele, making the quilt was fun & something totally different than anything i've done before. i had to figure out how big the doll was and then how big the blanket should be which meant then having to figure out what size squares and how many i'd need to make it. i felt mathy when i was working up the dimensions and creating my own pattern. and yes, i put real quilting batting in the middle. it may need to be washed someday, so i couldn't stuff it with bits of old stuffed animal fur, cotton balls or sliced up foam like i've used in some of the silly things i've made for brooke before.

    al, thank you so much for your nutshell (or maybe i should say elbowshell) tutorial on big cats. it was way more entertaining than any of that crap on natgeo! you're such a clever feller. (feller: my attempt at trying to sound like the folks where i live. probably a failed attempt since i enunciated too clearly.)

  17. I love the curling iron idea. You rock!! Love the quilt. You have incredible talent. I have a box of T's jeans that I keep promising to make a quilt out of. One day.

  18. "reminded me not to get any funny ideas about giving to her because she didn't want it." Haha! I've had the same thing suggested to me.
    I loved the shot of you ironing with your curling iron. Totally something I would do!

  19. That's lovely! Makes me want to pull out the ol' sewing machine myself...

    Happy Holidays!

    :-) Anna

  20. Wow, you are a wealth of creativity! You are one of those people who can look at things and, in an instant, you can think of a few ways to transform it into new life! Me, on the other hand, throw it in the garbage until I see a post like this and then I want to slap myself upside the head.


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