Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Cat Quilt Gets A Christmas Makeover

In the late 80's, I needed to change the bedroom scene.  I decided to make a calico quilt.  The main element of the quilt was nine appliqued cats on high quality muslin. Before appliqueing, I applied the cats to the muslin using double sided fusible interfacing.  The double sided fusible interfacing  was used to iron the cats to the muslin, holding them in place before appliqueing.  It was especially needed to keep the tails in place. Using the same procedure, bows were then appliqued on the cats.

All work was done on the sewing machine. Teaching and working a couple other jobs did not allow time for handwork.  After finishing the cats, the cat squares were put together with borders.  Then borders were added to make the quilt full/queen size.  A flowered sheet was used for the back of the quilt.   Borders of coordinated calico fabric were sewn to the sheet, making the quilt reversible. Next,  the two sides were combined with polyester quilt batting between, connecting front to back by stitching through both sides of the border seams.  Then green calico was used to make the final border, covering the front edge, the quilt batting, and the back edge.

After years of using the quilt, washing it, and drying it, the quilt began to show wear.  It began to come apart.  Even some of the fabrics began to thin and were tearing.  It was repaired and some of the worn borders were replaced -- but alas, it was difficult to keep up with the repairs.  It was time to let it go!  Tossing it was out of the question so it got put in a closet.

Then, this Christmas, my daughter said that the baby needed a Christmas stocking.  Memories -- she still uses the stocking which was provided by the hospital in 1973.  The Junior League in Sanford, NC made stockings of red and white flannel.  They were made so that a  "Christmas baby" could fit inside them.  The front closed with ribbons and bells, which were attached to the ribbons.  She arrived home in that stocking on Christmas Eve and was the best Christmas present ever!
Ginny, 3 days old,  in her Christmas stocking.  

Ah,  the cat quilt could be used to make Christmas stockings.  After pondering about a week, the research for patterns and instructions began.  A pattern was found, but no instructions for using the quilt.  So, guessing how to do it and guessing what was needed, the materials were gathered.

Materials needed to make the stockings:

  1. The quilt
  2. Fabric for making the cuff and the optional outside pocket
  3. Thread
  4. Interfacing (to give body to the cuff if needed)
  5. Coordinated colored ribbon of choice
  6. Bells (can find them at craft stores)
  7. Toy for pocket (optional)
  8. Jumprings added later to the list (suggested by daughter)

Step 1. I found a basic pattern. The pattern wasn't exactly what I needed so I used it, making revisions.  Notice the brown pattern patterns, with revisions.  Notice the brown pattern with fold.  That was needed so I didn't have to cut up an appliqued cat.  Now the fun begins.

patterns and altered pattterns

pattern adjusted for fold

Step 2. I decided to use a cat for the first stocking.  I cut the cat with the stocking pattern on the fold.  I layed the pattern on a cat, trying to find the best fit.  I was disappointed that the front of the stocking needs to be curved and the cat doesn't seem to fit on the curve without making adjustments to the cat.  That I didn't choose to do.   It was too large to fit on the front. ( I might try it again by using a larger stocking pattern.)  I cut the muslin square with the folded pattern trying to get the pattern as symmetric as possible.  The worse part was over; I finally cut into that quilt! (sob)

Step 3. The next part was to pin the quilt so that the front and back do not come apart.  Then I zigzagged the edges together.  Another reason to do that is that it keeps the inside of the stocking neat. If the stocking should have to be washed, it won't fray or come apart inside, either.  Then, fold the stocking on the fold with right sides together and stitch around the stocking, leaving the top opened.

Folded and stitched
and turned right side out


Step 4. The next step is to put the bells on the ribbon.  The first time I did this, I found it very easy to do.  The bells were bells that I bought in the 70's from Ben Franklin, which was on Falls of the Neuse Road in Raleigh.  (It is no longer there.)   Those small bells had large eyes on the top and the ribbon was very easy to pull through and knot.  That is not the case for the new bells I bought.  I had to sew the bells on the knot, which I didn't find as nice.  I checked Michaels, AC Moore, and Joann's and none had small bells in which the ribbon could be pulled through the eye. I tried opening the eyes a little with needle-nosed pliers but the eyes broke.  Drats!  "Time changes everything"-  sometimes good, sometimes not so good.  Then, my daughter told me to try jumprings.  Looked in my jewelry making supplies.  Bingo -- great idea, it works.  Apply the jumpring to the eye of the jingle bell; then, pull and knot the ribbon through the jumpring.  The bells even jingle more using jumprings!

Bells tied to ribbon
Attaching cuff and bells

Step 5. For the cuff or top of the stocking, I used red fabric that I had on-hand.  I used the stocking top pattern, cutting it on the fold, the side where the arrow is on the pattern.  Turn the cuff right side out, and sew the side seam opposite the fold, so that a complete circle is formed.  With right sides facing, pin the cuff to the stocking matching the seams.  Find suitable places for the ribboned bells and pin between the cuff and stocking with ribbon below the pin. (This is important;  otherwise, the bells will be inside the cuff.)

Step 6. Next, before sewing the cuff on the stocking, a loop is needed to hang the stocking.  I like to use the same fabric as the cuff, but ribbon could be used.  Cut a strip double the width you want the loop.  Fold fabric horizontally, pin and stitch.  Turn right side out.  Press the strip with the seam inside or on the outside of the loop.  I like to press the seam on the inside so that the seam isn't seen.  Fold the loop in half and place on the seam of the stocking between the stocking and the cuff.
Loop pinned between stocking
and cuff at seam

Loop pinned

I didn't use interfacing in the stocking cuff, but found that the stocking looks better with it.  When making the next stockings, I will baste interfacing on the cuff before sewing the seam. This should be done at step 5.

Interfacing pinned to
wrong side of cuff
interfacing based on cuff and seam
of cuff is sewn


Step 7.  When I sewing the cuff to the stocking, I have a machine that lets me remove the platform and slip the sewing project into the arm.  It certainly makes the sewing easier.  After sewing the cuff, to the stocking, remove the pins.  I then like to press the cuff on the right side to make it smooth to sew.  Normally, I would trim the seam at this time, but because it is an "abused" quilt, I did not.  At this step, a 1/4 in hem can be made to the cuff that is being sewn to the inside.  Turn the cuff so that half the cuff is outside and half is inside.  Pin the cuff to the inside.

Step 8.  Sewing in the seam, if possible, stitch the cuff on the outside.  Why, the outside and not the inside of the stocking?  If you sew on the inside, the stitches may not be neat on the outside.  Another way to solve that problem, is to baste the cuff inside catching the cuff to the seam, then sew on the outside.  Another way, handstitch the cuff on the inside.  Remember, children may be using the stocking, and hand stitching may not be as sturdy.  Once the inside seam is handstitched, the outside seam of the cuff could be stitched.  This seam stitching, also, reinforces the ribbon and the loop.

Sewing cuff on outside seam

The stocking is now finished and ready to hang.  The pictures show the both sides of the stocking.

There is still more to do because this stocking is not really appropriate for a little boy.  So I start again.
This time I use the pattern as is, and cut the fabric from the border of the quilt.  Notice there is no fold on this pattern so the stocking is stitched entirely around the stocking.

 Making the Pocket

Before stitching, I put a pocket on one side of the stocking.  I pre-shrunk  fabric I found appropriate for a boy, which turned out to be green stripe. I also make the hanging loop green stripe.  This is one way (and not the only way) to sew a pocket on the stocking, giving it room to hold items. Now, I forgot to take pictures of the green stripe pocket, so I made the pocket again, using the red strip -- just in case you are confused.

Step 1.  Cut a rectangle out of fabric.  The size should look appropriate on the stocking.  Add about an inch horizontally and vertically to allow for hems and pleats (a).  Make a hem on all sides by pressing 1/4 fabric on all sides (b).
Step 1b
Step 1a

Step 2.  At the top, fold down another 1/2 inch and press.  At the top of the pocket, topstitch across the top of the pocket on the thickest folded edge.
Step 2

Step 3.  At the bottom and top of the pocket, pin a 1/4 to 1/2-in pleat on each side of the pocket.  The size depends on the size of the pocket and the stocking. Place the pocket on the stocking 
and pin to hold in place (a).  Pin to stocking to create placement of the sides of the pocket (b). (This top pleat will be removed later to give fullness to the top of pocket.) 

Step 3a
Step 3b

Step 4.   Pen the inside of the pleats to the stocking at the four positions so that the pleat can be freed, making sure that the sides of the pocket remain in place (a).  Attach additional pins to keep the sides in place while stitching the sides (b).

Step 4a
Step 4b

Step 5.  At this step, "rectangles" will be sewn as reinforcement at the top corners.  Starting about 1/4-inch opposite the side edge (at the stitching made at the top of the pocket), stitch toward the top fold (a).  At the fold lift the presser bar lever , pivot the pocket, with needle down in the pocket fabric; then, stitch the top fold sewing toward the side edge (b).  Pivot again with the needle in the pocket fabric, and sew the rest of the edge to the bottom of pocket (c).  At the bottom edge, press the reverse button or lever and sew a few stitches to reinforce the stitching (d).  Begin at step 5a, and sew the other side using the same instructions. Do not sew across the bottom of the pocket yet.

Step 5a

Step 5b


Step 5d
Step 5c



Step 6.  In the next step, repin the BOTTOM pleats back in place (a).   Sew the bottom of the pocket, backstitching before and after stitching the bottom of pocket (b).

Step 6a

Step 6b

Lion Stocking

My daughter liked the "Lion Stocking" but she wanted a bigger stocking for my grandson.  (Remember she grew up with that big red and white stocking hanging on the mantel   -- and she can tell you a story about how I filled it.)  The stocking pattern was used.  It was cut down the center vertically and the two sections were taped 3-inches apart.  The pocket was cut wider but not longer.

pattern cut for larger stocking 
bigger stocking side 2

bigger stocking side 1

Gingerbread Man Stocking

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