Handmade Happy…the process of my handmade Valentine’s present.

Valentine’s Day. I don’t know why, but this holiday always sneaks up on me. I don’t know how I forget, what with all the red and pink and cards and commercials and ridiculousness that precedes it…but I do. Once I get my act together, I’ve inevitably waited too long and there aren’t any good presents or cards in the stores and to make matters worse, I’m just not a lovey dove-y kinda gal. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I ADORE my hubby and I’ve been known to be more than a little sappy (embarrassingly so) in the name of my love for him, but in general, I’m not one that likes flowers (I’m allergic) or chocolate (mother is allergic and consequently I am not into regular chocolate–it has to be REALLY good for me to be tempted COUGHgodivatrufflesCOUGH) or 5 course meals by candlelight (the flickering triggers migraines). Don’t I just sound like a barrel-o-fun?

H’anyways, my husband, despite all that, still loves me and still tries to make Valentine’s Day special. This year we decided to go the handmade route because we had an unexpected vet bill. I made something last year but it was more of a card than a gift. So, off we went to make our no cost Valentine’s Day presents.

I can’t speak for his thought process, but mine went something like this. “UGH, what do I do?! Oh, I know! Nah, not that, he’d never use that. No, WAIT-that’d be PERFECT! No…it wouldn’t. SHIT. I give up. I can’t give up, I have to figure this out. OOOH The Office is on. I’ll think about this after The Office.”

Days go by and then, I’m (to quote many a great southerner) “shit-up a creek without a paddle.” I eventually came to the idea of a coozie with a Carolina Hurricane’s emblem. I admit, not the most original (or useful…he doesn’t drink all that much) but we’re both HUGE hockey fans (I converted him when he moved down here, I mean seriously, what guy wouldn’t love a girl who can’t talk because “the game is on!?”) and we’re smack in the middle of the season. Now, I’m not going to link to them on this post because I may or may not have absolutely ripped off a logo. In my defense, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find Carolina Hurricanes fabric.

I thought it would be a great project, I’d get to try some new paper piecing techniques, it’d be grand. It was not. I was not. Paper piecing did not work. So, I came up with a new plan. I tried tracing the emblem to do an iron on transfer so I could embroider it. STILL would be SUPER cool. But I traced the wrong side…and it came out backwards. Twice. ^%*&!

A swing and a miss.

Attempt 3 or 4

So, I thought, “maybe I could fuse it and make a ‘Giant Coaster.'” I won’t even tell you how many tracings, papers, and cuss words were involved. BUT I did it. I managed to make a template, lay out, trace and cut the different pieces, trace out enough of the CORRECT side of the emblem to line up my pieces, and fuse them down. BUT NOW I’ve got another problem. If he’s going to use this as a giant coaster, the pieces need to be appliqued so they won’t move or come up. Alright. I can do this…except I don’t know how to applique. *&%! I don’t even know how to make my zig-zag into a satin stitch (oh, I’ve tried, but never successfully) or how to make a decent curve.

Fused pieces

Did I mention that I did all this on the MORNING OF Valentine’s Day? No turning back now, I have no other present and he’ll be home in 5 hours and I KNOW he’s got a gift for me (I heard him working on it Sunday afternoon).

Back to reality. I’m often amazed how well things turn out for me in the world of sewing. I’ve talked about my sewing philosophy before. Basically, I try just about anything that I want to try, jump in with both feet, have low expectations and hope for the best. That’s how this happened. I looked up “satin stitch” in my machine manual and quickly realized that none of my machine’s “satin” stitches were what I needed. They’re all decorative and make leaves or diamonds or diagonal lines or curves or something. I need a REGULAR, straight line of stitches.

Enter my stroke of genius.

I know that a “satin stitch” is basically just a super-small, tight zig-zag but I have never been able to make one look right. BUT, let’s say, hypothetically, one were to record the settings of stitch size and length for one of the decorative satin stitches and apply THOSE to the regular zig-zag stitch, theoretically, one would end up with a BEAUTIFUL satin stitch!  I’ll let that sink in. For those of you who already sew and knew that, PFFF! Whatever and I’m happy for you and all your sewing knowledge. For the rest of you (especially those that know me and/or have firsthand knowledge of my lack of spatial and mathematical prowess) let’s all have a collective WHOOPPEEE!! I FIGURED IT OUT!!

So, I’ve got that figured out. But (and here’s the kicker) I still haven’t the foggiest idea how to machine applique…much less around those curves! Nevertheless, I grabbed a few scraps and went to town practicing and experimenting with stitch size and width combos. And just so ya know, the “money stitch” on my machine was 2.0, .3 respectively.

After a couple of practice curves, I went on to the actual appliqueing of the Hurricanes logo and I learned relatively quickly that I needed a stabilizer (which, of course, I don’t have) so I used another piece of fabric underneath and, again, hoped for the best. I only had to rip out a stitch or two (or 30, but who’s counting?) and I even figured out how to taper the size of the stitch down to get my perfect points! I think it turned out great, don’t you!? (If you don’t, you can just keep it to yourself.)


Enter my next dilemma. In order to finish the block, I have to find red, black and white fabrics that don’t look girly. Oh sure, I have those colors, but they have swirls, or polka dots or flowers. You CANNOT have those things on a HURRICANES project! I decided to improv piece (mainly because the fabrics I found were small and scrap-ish) and once I got started, I couldn’t stop! It looked SOO cool! I mean, the slash-y nature of the Hurricane logo, the crazy angles of the piecing…it was just looking AWESOME.


Only, NOW it’s too big to be a giant coaster (funny, I know, because they are, by nature, giant). But, pfsh, whatever. It can be a wall hanging, right? AND that’s an opportunity to try, yet another thing I’ve never done: making wall hanging tabs. I’ll tell you, not as exciting as my satin stitching adventure, but a notch in my crafty belt is, after all, a notch in my belt.

All finished 🙂

I wanted to quilt it improvisationally (ya know, to match the piecing) but I have to tell you, that plain scares the bejeezes out of me. You can REALLY screw something up if you quilt it wrong and at this point, I have something on the order of 5 hours in this thing and the hubby is due home in 2 (OH! And I’m not showered, dinner is not made {or planned}, cake is not made). I settled on a straight line spiral at wonky angles and I’m really happy with it, it even looks cool from the back!

Still need to stitch down that heart and those tabs...I had a slight time crunch!

AND speaking of the back, my label is a cute little heart (for Valentine’s you know) that says “Rock YOU like a Hurricane!” heh heh.


The Hubs did well too. To be perfectly honest, he always does well. His creativity and talents are continually blowing me away. I mean, I think I know everything about him and then he goes and pulls out another amazing project or skill that I’ve never seen before. He took this picture from our engagement session and made a beautiful pen and ink line drawing to go in my new “studio.” It’ll be the FIRST thing I hang on the wall!


AND just to show you how in sync we are with each other, I snapped a pic of our cards…both bearing the same theme. Shoutout to the very talented bloggess Lauren of My Aunt June (where mine came from)!

Sweet Birdies!

That’s all Folks! Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day to you!

P.S. The cake DID get made, albeit late, while the husband was picking up dinner (See, not planning pays off, we got yummy takeout from my fave local Italian place!). Red velvet (with chocolate fudge pudding to make it even more moist and delish) and Paula Deen’s cream cheese frosting. AND before you tell me that it shouldn’t be in a bundt shape, I know. That’s the only cake pan I have and it doesn’t make it taste ONE IOTA less scrumptious!

Also, inability to frost nicely has no effect on the taste, either.

About Joanna

I married the "one who got away" and try to remember how lucky I am each and every day.
This entry was posted in Family, Finished Projects 2011, Holidays, Other Sewing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Handmade Happy…the process of my handmade Valentine’s present.

  1. That was quite amusing…love the cake! Cute V-Day story!

  2. Joanna's Mom says:

    You guys crack me up! I am so impressed with both of you and your creativity…WOW, just WOW. Amazing work!

  3. Lana says:

    YOU DID DO GOOD! I am cheering all the way through the blog post!!!!
    and a little giggling too…you were cracking me up!
    Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

  4. terriaw says:

    Love your Valentines Day pressies! I adore what you made for your hubby. I also admire you for tackling what looks like such a hard project! Now I could go for a piece of that cake with my morning coffee!

  5. Sarah Go says:

    Joanna, Again, sorry about Layla. I love your blog and how you just walk us very non crafty people thru the creative process. You done good! ::hug::

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