Monday, August 3, 2015

Whole Cloth Elephant Quilt

I have wanted to try quilting for years but always put it off thinking it's too involved for my short attention span crafting style.  I finally took the plunge with this whole cloth elephant quilt!

I love the elephants in this fabric (Madhuri Elephant by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake) and couldn't bear to cut it up so a whole cloth quilt was an easy solution.  I made this for my daughter who was born in India, so the fabric is obviously a nod to her home country.  I'm really pushing the elephant theme for her, so I hope she likes them!
Everything I know about quilting I've learned from reading fiction books with characters who quilt, so not that much.  I learned a bit about Hawaiian whole cloth quilts reading The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini and was also inspired by looking at kantha quilts (blankets made from old saris or sari fabric) on-line.  I knew I wanted to quilt by hand not machine and finally found this tutorial as a guide. 
I mostly used supplies I had on hand instead of buying all new quilt specific tools - I used an embroidery hoop instead of a quilt hoop and normal thread and needle for the basting.  I did buy hand quilting thread and needles for the swirling design.  I have tried using a thimble several times, but I find it to be more of a hassle than helpful.
I drew the swirling design freehand with a water soluble marker.  My favorite part was spraying down the quilt with water and watching the blue ink disappear.  Since my thread was the same color as the background of the fabric the quilting still looks subtle even with an intricate design.

I only quilted the background so the elephants stand our a bit because of the batting layer.

To be honest, I was going to ask my mom to do the binding for me.  It involves all the parts of sewing I don't like: measuring, ironing, being precise.  I ended up giving it a try on my own and I think it turned out okay.  It's a little wonky in places but that adds to the handmadeness, right?
A loves her special elephant quilt!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Tree Stump Trampoline Steps

This project was at the top of my outside DIY list this summer:  figure out steps for our trampoline!
We've had our trampoline for a couple of years and have been using an $8 white plastic patio chair for the kids to get in and out of it.  Not only was it an eyesore in the backyard but really, really unsafe.  I was hoping we could build something cheap, safe and attractive instead of buying an aluminum ladder- I wanted something more substantial for the little kids to maneuver in and out of the trampoline.
Pinterest searches yielded zero inspiration so I started talking to my husband about designing and building a set of steps out of wood or metal (a husband who welds=incredibly helpful!) until I remembered the pile of wood sitting at the end of our street.  Our neighbor graciously let us take some pieces for free(!) for our project.  The tree stump trampoline steps were born.
We used two pieces of wood (and by we I mean my husband who did all the work, I didn't even lift a finger.  But I did come up with the idea!)  The larger diameter piece works as the middle step, then the smaller, taller stump was cut in half to form the first and third steps.  All the cuts were made with a chainsaw so the surface of the steps were very rough.  I thought we could just sand them smooth but the wood was just too uneven.  To avoid giving everyone splinters my husband "finished" tops of the steps with a fiberglass resin used on boats.  The steps are nice and smooth without being slippery when wet.  He also used a wood hardener (before the resin) that will hopefully prolong the life of the steps.  The sun is brutal on outdoor furniture and toys at this altitude!

Finally he set them in place in the backyard and used extra long lag screws to keep everything in place.  I love the turtle design that showed up on the smaller stump.

The kids use the edge of the trampoline for a handrail.  The steps are broad enough that no one is in danger of falling off.
With the wood hardener and resin the project turned out to be over my budget of $0, but I love the finished product.  Time for trampoline fun!

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