Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Quilt

In July of 2022, I finally completed my Rudolph Christmas quilt that I made with a repurposed fabric panel.

My Rudolph Christmas quilt has been in the works for a handful of years. Last July, I finally finished it.

I bought a fabric panel that was intended to be sewn into a fabric kids’ book. Before I could make the book, I was gifted the completed book. (Disclaimer: I love the 1964 Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special—dated language and all—and I have an affinity for the Bumble. People tend to gift me and my family Rudolph-themed items!)

I decided to make each page a block and use some of the Rudolph and Bumble fabric I had been collecting as borders and backing. I did have to buy some white snowflake fabric to use for borders, too.

This was the first quilt I made after I realized I like quilts big enough to use. I want a quilt to be at least twin-size—it should cover my shoulders and feet! I simply kept adding borders to the page blocks until I was satisfied with the size

To quilt it, I decided to hand quilt it with big-stitch quilting. I quilted in each page block around the scene with white DMC pearl thread. Then I did straight quilting in a combination of red and green DMC pearl thread in the white snowflake borders. In the green Rudolph print borders, I did more straight quilting in white DMC pearl thread. 

The binding is just a black Christmas-themed fabric. I think it’s a nice frame to the red, green, white of the quilt.

I was able to save the Rudolph logo from the panel and stitched it onto the back right above my quilt label.

I have to say, I love this quilt! I love the colors. I love the quilting. And the size is perfect. I have no desire to only have this quilt out at Christmas. Ha! And, isn’t that the point? To make a quilt that you love and use?

The details:

+ 76.5” H x 61.5” W

+ Machine pieced

+ Hand quilted

+ The blocks are from a panel that was designed to be sewn into a fabric book. I like the quilt better the book—it’s warmer, too!

+ Don’t ask how long it took me to finish this quilt!


Knowing When It’s Time to Throw Away Mended Clothing

When my mended pair of jeans needed to be repaired again, I knew it was time to let them go. I patched them after a year of wear and then wore them for another year.

It’s time to let these jeans go.

Nothing lasts forever, unfortunately, and while I could have mended these jeans for a second time, I just wasn’t feeling comfortable wearing them. I tend to wear out my jeans in the crotch. So, visible repairs are in an awkward place and I certainly don’t want to draw attention to my crotch! The layered fabric in the crotch creates a different kind of discomfort—it’s physically uncomfortable.

Right after the mending a year ago.

I took photos of these jeans when I originally mended them. The date linked is March of 2022. I estimate that I wore them for a year before they needed repair. I wore them for two years: one year as-is and a second year patched. Full disclosure: I am on sabbatical from working outside the home. A lot of days I just don’t leave home—I can get away with wearing the same clothes every day, from week to week. I wore these jeans multiple days per week for two years straight. Conservatively, I’ll say I wore them only 2 days per week. Let’s do some math!

52 + 52 = 104 weeks in the 2 years I wore them

104 x 2 = 208 days worn

I do laundry once a week. They were washed 104 times.

208 days of wear. 104 washes. Now, they’re done.

That’s pretty good and beats NPR’s LifeKit’s suggestion that you wear an article of clothing 30 times.

I learned a lot from this pair of pants. First, there’s a lot of stretch in these jeans. Look at how they wore out. It’s amazing how much the wear looks like stretch marks on skin.

Denim wore right down to the patch material.

Second, I think the stitching frayed and broke because I mended these jeans while they were clean. There’s a difference in the fabric when it’s freshly washed and when it has been worn a couple of times.

I used a single strand of DMC Cotton Pearl thread in a medium blue to blend with the color of the denim as much as possible.

The next pair of jeans, I will wear them a day or two before mending. Then, I’ll be stitching on fabric at its maximum stretched size, not at a shrunken size.

Layers of fabric

Finally, I’m not sure I’ll heave the whole pair into the trash bin. I’m going to try part them out—I’ll try to take out the zipper and maybe cut out swatches of relatively unworn fabric on the legs for future mending or other projects. All in all, eventually everything has to go. While only having this pair of jeans for two years seems paltry, after doing the math, I realize that I actually got a lot of wear out of them. Now it’s time to put them to rest.

Pretty stitches.

Mended Buttonhole on Men’s Jeans

The buttonhole on my husband’s jeans frayed, so it was too large to securely hold the button. I was able to mend the hole, but it wasn’t without trial and error.

When the buttonhole on a pair of my husband’s jeans frayed so much that it could no longer hold the button securely, I offered to give mending them a try. I ran into some snags throughout the process, but I was able to do it.

First, I reinforced the area with a scrap of quilting cotton. I sewed a patch on the front and back of the waistband over the buttonhole. Then, I put in a few rows of running stitches where the frayed hole was since this area really only had the two layers of cotton fabric. 

Next, I popped my buttonhole foot onto my sewing machine and threaded it with heavy duty thread. I set the size of the buttonhole, positioned the waistband under the needle, and pushed the pedal. Fail! The reinforced denim waistband was too thick for my machine to scooch along under the needle. The fabric pretty much remained stationary and all I got was a mess of thread. So, went back to the drawing board. Or should I say that I went running to Google.

I searched how to hand sew a buttonhole. There are plenty of really good tutorials that showed me the way. So, I broke out the pearl cotton thread and a touch of Dritz Fray Check (I dabbed the cut edges of the buttonhole with the Dritz Fray Check to help prevent fraying…and recreating the original problem!).

It worked! My husband has put these jeans back into rotation, which is the whole point, right—to get at least one more wear out of them?

2021 Favorite Projects & Top Posts (Plus a Bit of Inspiration)

Since it’s the end of the year, I’m sharing my favorite projects, most-viewed blog posts, and bits of inspiration.

It’s unlikely that I’ll finish any more sewing or quilting projects anytime soon (hello, holidays!), so I figured I’d take the time to highlight my favorite projects from 2021, the posts y’all have been looking at, and share a few things I’ve been inspired by this past year. Bookmark this post, or keep it up in your browser on your phone (if you’re like me) and head back to it in the downtime the end of the year sometimes brings.

And, in the comments tell me your favorite thing you’ve made this year and something you found inspiring.

My favorite things I’ve made this year:

+Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt

+Visibly mended and hemmed jeans

+A new shirt from a thrifted dress

3 most viewed posts in 2021 (as of the writing of this post):

+How I Visibly Hemmed a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

+Reasons Why I Love Using Muslin for Quilt Backs

+How to Make an Iron-On Transfer Using an Image Printed with a toner Printer or Copier

Inspiration I encountered this year:

How I Built This Podcast Episodes:

The Life Is Good Company on How I Built this with Guy Raz 9.02.2019

How I Built Resilience: Bert and John Jacobs of Life Is Good 9.17.2020

Love that the company stands for optimism and because of that it has always done well in hard times (9/11, 2008/9 recession, 2020 pandemic). I also love their family story.

“Cat Person” and Me: This whole story tickles my brain. There are about a million ways to approach this situation. Plus, I worked in the English Department at my college, where I was in close proximity to MFA Creative Writing students. This takes me back—ha!

I Know the Secret to the Quiet Mind. I Wish I’d Never Learned It. By Hana Shank in The Atlantic This line sticks with me: “But did you know that you can eat whole grains and still get hit by a truck?” Isn’t that the truth, though?

Only Murders in the Building. I’m not going to link it, because either you subscribe to Hulu or don’t. It was so good. I loved every minute of it. I watched it in “real time,” that is, I watched it as they released episodes. I couldn’t binge it, which I think added a layer of enjoyment.

Finally, I revisited The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman this year. It was originally published in 2007, and boy, does it seem relevant this year. The book is all paintings/art/illustrations with written musings. Most definitely check it out.

So, what did you enjoy making this year? What inspired you? Let me know in the comments!

Necessary Sewing: A Couple of Projects That Fulfill a Need

Sewing is mostly a hobby for me, but sometimes it’s a necessity—I need to create something I need to use now.

Masks in-progress.

Sewing isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes, sewing is necessary. It’s not all hobby and unicorns and rainbows. For me, the last month or so has consisted of necessary sewing, mainly making masks for my school kids to wear at school. I also made a couple of L’il Knot Bags by indigobird, because I thought I might use them to hold used masks.

Masks! Masks! Masks!

Here’s the deal: my kids have to wear masks at school. If they have to wear masks, well, they should have fun masks to wear. So, before the beginning of the school year when it was s—l—o—w—l—y becoming apparent that they should be wearing a mask at school, I rifled through my fabric stash and pulled fabrics they could choose from for their masks. (They enjoyed picking the fabric.)

Halloween Masks

I then decided I’d make them a set of Halloween-themed masks. And, while I’m way over sewing masks at this point, I have already acquired fabric to make winter-themed masks. (There is no way I am going to waste time and fabric on holiday-themed masks that they’d only wear a couple of weeks. Winter masks can be worn December and January. Maybe February.)

The worst part of making the Halloween masks? When I cut out 24 ear straps and realized that I cut them in the wrong direction along the knit fabric. Bah! It happens. Side note: I’ve found that cutting an old t-shirt into 1” strips creates ear straps that are comfortable.

D’oh! Knit fabric ear strips cut in the wrong direction against the grain.

I’ll refrain from telling you all the details about my masks. At this point, everyone should have found a mask pattern and materials that works for them. If you just gotta know, leave a comment or send me a message via my contact page.

Medium L’il Knot Bag

The L’il Knot Bags came together easily enough. I made a small and medium-size bag. Originally, I thought one would work well to hang on a hook and have my kids deposit their mask into at the end of the school day. But, ends up the hook I have by the front door works well for this purpose. (They hang their mask by its lanyard on the hook.) The bags are functional and fun so I’m sure I’ll find a purpose for them. Another side note: that small bag is made from the fabric I used to mend my M&M’s Quilt and Yellow Quilt (that’s its official name, y’all—ha!). I was pleasantly surprised these two fabrics coordinate so well!

It’s hard to see the lining fabric–peep the green lining near the handle.

Necessary sewing can be fun. I mean, it’s great to be able to justify sneaking off to my sewing machine because I have to get these masks done before school starts! But, sometimes it’s sluggish. When it was feeling like that, I promised myself that once I was done, I could move on to something more fun, like working on the next quilt in my queue.

Here are more examples of what I consider to be necessary sewing: visibly hemming jeans, making handkerchiefs, and sewing baby bibs.

What having you been sewing lately because you have to, not necessarily because you want to?