Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Easy Strip Quilt

Laurel's oldest is ready for a big boy bed, so it was time to make him a fun new quilt. As I thought about what to make and how to make it, I remembered a technique that my Mom learned from one of her sisters and then taught to me several years ago. It allows you to construct a quilt--backing, batting, and front--strip by strip so that by the time you finish the last strip, all that you have to do is trim the raw side and bottom edges and sew on the binding. No quilting or tying is necessary. This is how I did it:

My quilt information said that twin size comforters--to be used with a bed skirt--should measure about 68 by 86 inches. I chose six coordinating fabrics based on these three prints . . .

and, after prewashing, cut four of the fabrics into 9 by 9 inch squares. I needed 8 squares of each of the four fabrics. Then I sewed 8 of the squares into a strip, using 1/4" seam allowances to create four of the required twelve strips. Iron the seams flat. I made four of these strips, changing the pattern by one block each time. (I decided to do these block strips for added interest, but if you want an easier quilt, simply skip the blocks and use 12 solid strips.)

I also cut eight solid strips--four green and four white with matching green dots which alternated with the block strips. For the back, I used a solid brown, flat queen sized sheet--which I prewashed.  Out of the sheet, I cut twelve, 9 x 68 inch strips. This shows a backing strip and each of the three different strips that I used for the front:

 I also cut twelve, 9 x 68 inch strips of batting:

The magical thing about this quilt is that you can use up odds and ends of batting that are left over from other quilting projects. If the pieces weren't quite long enough, I simply basted them together:

Now the fun begins. Lay out your strips in the pattern you prefer, and, starting from the top, begin the layering process. Stack your first backing strip and your first top strip with right sides together. Place a strip of batting on top and pin along the top seam line:

Using a walking foot, sew your seam through all layers. To be honest, despite the fact that I have made many quilts, this is the first time I have used a walking foot. My old Viking didn't have one, but my newer machine does. They are amazing. They keep the many layers from bunching and stretching. This is what mine looks like:

Unpin, trim, and then turn so that the front is on top, the batting is in the middle, and the back is on the bottom. I pinned the finished edge just to hold everything in place and then pinned the bottom, raw edge and ran a basting seam to secure it while I added the next layer. (For sewing newbies, you can machine baste by using the longest straight stitch setting on your machine. The stitches hold things in place temporarily but come out easily. It is an extra step, but it makes things so much easier in the long run.)

Create the second strip by placing your completed strip on top of your second quilt top strip, right sides of top strips together. Place a quilt back strip on top of the completed quilt back strip, right sides together, and a strip of batting on top of everything. Pin raw edges.

Sew through all layers, unpin, trim, and turn:

Continue the same process for ten more strips. Pin and baste the final, bottom raw edge in preparation for the binding. For me, the trickiest part was trimming the raw side edges to make everything square and straight. I don't even know what to tell you; good luck with that. (Hopefully, Laurel won't measure eveything.) I cut 4 1/2 inch binding strips out of the left over backing sheet, folded them in half, and then ironed a crease to create a 2 1/4 inch binding. I pinned and sewed the  raw edge of the binding onto the right side of the quilt sides and bottoms using the machine to sew through all layers. (Be sure to tuck in and stitch across the raw edges of the binding at the ends.) Then I folded the binding over to the back, pinned it, and stitched the folded edge of the binding in place by hand. You can machine stitch this as well; it will just make an extra seam on the front side of your quilt.

I used left over pieces to create matching pillow cases. The only twin size bed I have is a bunk so the pictures aren't perfect, but, hopefully, they will give you an idea of what the finished quilt looks like:

Sleep sweet, little man.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Preschool Lesson: Letter "M"

I'm still loving this mommy-preschool rotation with my friend Kailene. Did I mention that I usually have a PowerPoint? I usually have a PowerPoint to go along with our letter. Something very simple. The first slide is always a lower and uppercase letter of the day. We then talk about the sound it makes and make the letter out of popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners. I then have a few slides of pictures of things that start with the letter of the week.

This time, for "M", I let my PowerPoint presentation pictures be my outline for the day. First, I had a picture of the moon.
  • Songs: "Zoom, zoom, zoom, we're going to the moon!" and "I'm a Little Rocket!" 
  • Book: Goodnight, Moon
  • Music video: "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon." I want preschool to be creative and fun, not screen time. Yet I like throwing in a short video clip now and again, especially if it's an old-school Sesame Street song that pulls at my heart strings.
Next, we saw a picture of monkeys.
  • Song: 5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree
  • Craft: I found cute, chunky monkey stickers at Dollar Tree, so after singing the song, we stopped to color and sticker a quick picture to tell the story. I love how SourPatch is so minimalist in his coloring these days:

Next, we moved onto monsters:
  • Large Motor: We did some monster bowling using the cute Melissa and Doug bowling set my sister-in-law gave us.
  • Book: We read The Monster at the End of this Book. Anyone else totally in love with this book? It's pretty great. 
  • Music Video: I know, I know, we already broke the rules and watched a video! Yet Sesame Street does a great letter M, okay? We watched Monster in the Mirror.
  • Craft: I feel like there's lots you could do with monster letter m's: eyes, fangs, fur, scales... we just had googly eyes and pipe cleaner (for limbs?). The kids still liked making them anyways.

  • Math: We used these cute Monster Mash Roll and Coloring pages from Little Miss Kindergarten to practice number recognition with dice. We basically just took turns rolling a die (is that how you spell the singular of "dice?" Seems grim.) and coloring in the correct number on the sheets.

For our last picture, a moose, we read the classic If You Give a Moose a Muffin. I feel like a total traitor, but I think I like this book even better than its cookie predecessor. It also reminded us that it was time for a snack. After we ate our muffins and drank our milk, we made m's out of mini marshmallows and toothpicks. 

Another fine motor activity was building and playing with SourPatch's marble run. We made it through one round of the game Memory, too.

Last but not least, we had "Science Time" as we talked about magnetism. The kiddos loved this activity from The Measured Mom where we tested various household objects to see if they are magnetic or not.

Another preschool in the books. Thanks for a fun day, kids!