If you follow me at all you know I love to make quilted pillows (and this photo from 2015 shows just the pillows I’d made for myself, the one’s I’ve made for customers number in the hundreds!)
But of all the pillows I’ve made, I never had the opportunity to make some of those super popular reading pocket pillows I see all over Pinterest. Until customer Gus H. asked for a quilt with the names of all five of his family’s grandchildren on it.
5 kids? That meant a gift with purchase of 5 reading pocket pillows!
Searching for reading-themed cotton was harder than I imagined, but I eventually ended up with a cute book worm fabric; additional fabrics for each pillow were in each kid’s favorite color. I embroidered the phrase “Just one more chapter” under each kid’s name on the pocket.
Honestly, just laid out here for the photo, these pillows don’t look as cool as they turned out IRL. With a pillow inside, they are not just adorable, but useful, too! I included the following poem –
Tuck a book in here
and place on your bed.
You’ll never go to sleep
with a chapter unread.
I imagine with 5 different personalities of 5 different kids, not all are going to voracious readers. But at least these pocket pillows will give each one of them a reminder to try to enjoy a good book every night!
A friend of mine writes books about a cat detective named Li’l Tom who lives in San Francisco. You’re probably sold just hearing the words “cat detective” but what I really loved about her first book were the descriptions of SF, one of my favorite cities in the world. And now she has a second book coming out in March 2018 – just in time for my birthday!
Last year, I purchased an embroidery machine. While learning to use it, a promotional bookmark for Angela’s first Li’l Tom book caught my eye and I decided to give recreating it in fabric a shot —
Believe it or not, the eyeglasses and eyes came from an embroidery file for an anthropomorphic school bus – go figure! But that taught me how to select and use different elements from a pre-purchased design. And by playing around with the letters, I learned how NOT to resize fonts and also to make sure any alphabets I purchase in the future include numbers!
I got the pillow finished and sent to her late last month. Who knows? After I read Li’l Tom’s next case, there might be a coordinating pillow, too!
Thank you so much – I absolutely love it. And such quality craftsmanship, as always. It makes me happy that you took inspiration from Li’l Tom. 😻
— Angela Crider Neary
Let me tell you a story…
As the holidays approached way back in 2011, an idea began percolating in my head. What if the ghosts from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol didn’t visit a miserly old man; instead, what if they sought to change the heart of a overworked and very tired quilter trying to get all her quilted gifts done before December 25th? (No, nope, wasn’t projecting at all…)
The result was a little story called A Quilter’s Christmas Carol ~ With Thanks to Charles Dickens for the Holiday Inspiration. One year later (after I, wink, wink, got caught back up) the little story got turned into a book.
As part of the book writing process, I decided to add directions for a related quilting project, the Quilter’s Christmas Carol block.
Pieced from traditional holiday colors, the Quilter’s Christmas Carol block features three flying geese moving out from the center (embodying the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future) while stylized “C”s in each corner represent the first letters of the classic holiday tale’s title.
Much like Dicken’s classic, today’s story has a happy ending – six years later, I finally finished making a set of Quilter’s Christmas Carol pillows!
I want to make it very clear, I didn’t create such a difficult design that it would take the average quilter six years to make these. Pretty sure these could be knocked out in a day with the no distractions. But what average quilter has NO distractions? Let’s just say, being overworked and very tired is not an uncommon thing around Whimzie Quiltz and leave it at that, shall we?
Still, it’s nice to have these off my to-do list. One less chain for poor Marley, I mean, me, to wear as quilt-y penance when the time comes!
PS – Copies of my book are still available online. They make great stocking stuffers or Secret Santa gifts for quilters. Want to make them even more special? I’m happy to autograph copies!
I love pretty much all versions of the Grinch story*, but the original book holds a special place in my heart.
So when I was putting together all my Grinch-themed holiday decor I wanted the book itself to take center stage. But the version you read from is pretty small and I was hoping for more impact. So, just like the Grinch’s heart, I grew it 3 sizes…
Well, almost 3 sizes. The original store-bought book is approximately 8 x 11 inches. My version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ended up being 20 ½ x 24 inches, not quite 3x, but definitely big enough to make the impact I hoped for!
To make the big book, the first thing I did was scan the front cover of the little book and have it printed as an oversized photo at Shutterfly. It needed a bit of trimming to fit, but that’s easy peasy.
I used two thin sheets of foam core for the front and back covers, wrapping them with a solid green fabric to make it look like a vintage children’s book (I even finagled a way to have a small gap between the covers and the spine like hardback books have :D)
The middle pages part is a wider piece of foam core with the edges covered in waterproof adhesive tape, the kind you get from the drug store to adhere bandages. It has a lined feel that gives the edges the look of a stack of paper (and, unlike electrical tape, which I also considered, it doesn’t stretch.)
MY finished GIANT book now sits in a decorative cubby in the entryway to our home – welcoming everyone who visits. And if you want to read the story, I’ve still got the smaller version, which will fit comfortably in your hands while the story warms your heart – whatever it’s size!
*Except the live action movie. As the late, great movie critic Roger Ebert commented, it’s a “dank, eerie, weird movie” and I completely agree. Not Grinch-y at all!
I kind of love Scrabble… If I’m not quilting, you can usually find me playing Scrabble instead. I own something like 7 versions of the game, from travel to deluxe, and my current winning streak against the computer version on my phone is 369 to 0. So when I saw giant Scrabble tiles floating around on Pinterest, it was a triple word score of an idea for me…
I bought the 6″ x 8″ wood pieces to save time, but it would be just as easy to cut a 1″ x 6″ to the right tile size. I also belt sanded the edges to make them more authentic.
Printing the letters off the computer using a 6″ x 8″ template helped standardize the look. I used the classic “pencil lead on the back” tracing method to transfer the images to the wood blocks.
I thought about painting in the letters, but decided to go with a Sharpie so I’d have maximum control, especially for the really thin numbers designating the score. There was a bit of bleeding this way, but nothing I couldn’t live with.
After a couple of days to make sure the Sharpie dried, each tile was stained with an oak color stain and varnish in one. Pouncing on the stain instead of wiping kept the Sharpie from bleeding even more (as an added bonus, the darker color of a thick, pounced layer looked more realistic, too.)
I wanted these to hang flush on the wall and trying to make keyholes with my Dremel SO did not work. Luckily, I found some interesting one-step picture hanging nails from OOK at Home Depot and was able to finagle them into working (that’s a whole story in itself!)
These now decorate the wall at the top of our stairs. Previously, this was just a nearly blank wall, but needing to access the thermostat kept me from putting up a nice quilt. With the tiles fitting around the thermostat, it’s still functional but way prettier! And, if you notice, I still snuck the word “quilt” in there (for 14 points!)
When I started Whimzie Quiltz 10 years ago, I had a webpage but not this blog, so there are lots of early quilts I haven’t posted. Since I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary, I thought I’d go back and share some of those stories, with a focus on “N ‘n’ N Quilts” – quilts I’ve made for my nieces and nephews.
As you know, I’ve been making quilts for my nieces and nephews, starting with the oldest and working my way to the youngest. But I knew what I wanted to do for this niece’s quilt long before it was her turn.
So she needed a book-themed quilt to read under. This was the result…
I, too, am a reader. Because of that, I feel a very strong connection with this niece.
Like most readers, she’s quiet, but not in a shy way; it’s like she’s more interested in learning what’s going on around her than talking. But if you catch her at just the right moment, she’ll share a thoughtful insight or funny observation and suddenly you feel like you are getting a sneak peek into a delightful little world that is usually hers alone.
She’s also one of the most considerate people I’ve ever known – quick with a ‘thank you’ or to ask ‘how are you?’ rather than talk about herself. She is devoted to her family, too, and friends, even pets. Every year she attends horse camp and looks in on Rosie, the first horse she ever rode.
Also like most readers, she’s generous, especially with her book recommendations, letting me know if she’s come across something good I might like as well. She’s even gotten me to read the Harry Potter books (at my age!)
Her quilt is my most popular quilt on Pinterest with 75 repins (the next most liked quilt I’ve posted there has only 49 repins). I guess there are lots of readers who would appreciate a quilt to read under, but this one is hers alone – a ‘novel’ quilt, made with love by her aunt, just for a niece who reads.
A quilted book cover can protect the outside and a quilted bookmark can keep your place inside, but reading in bed snug under a quilt inspired by your favorite book of all time? That’s a ‘novel’ quilt idea!
Guess the much-loved bestsellers that these custom quilt ideas were drawn from: 1) A “dressy” crazy quilt sewn using once-grand moss green velvet curtains; 2) A barnyard theme baby blanket with “Some Pig” embroidered in the corner; 3) A Log Cabin block surrounded by appliquéd sunflowers on a wide wheat-colored border; 4) Several “grinning” cat blocks made from lighter and lighter gray fabrics until just his smile remains; and 5) A obsessively pieced Mariner’s Compass design that floats on a white background (white is a whale of a hint!) Click here for answers.
Many children’s fabric lines include panels that Whimzie Quiltz can cut and quilt into soft cover books – alphabet and number themes are popular for starting out and older readers can enjoy anything from travel adventures to prehistoric tales!