Category Archives: Tutorial

Make a Minecraft Enderman Pumpkin

Every year for my kids’ elementary school Fall Festival, there is a pumpkin auction.  Each class suckers a parent in solicits a volunteer to make a pumpkin, and the money goes to fund various things like playground equipment or books or computer programs.  Because I am crafty, and also competitive, and also because it gets me out of working a shift at whatever game the class is responsible for running at the festival, I volunteer to do the pumpkin for each of my kids’ classes.

To me, a decorated pumpkin isn’t really Halloween or fall-worthy unless it lights up.  Last year, I did a Minecraft Creeper pumpkin and a Minion pumpkin.  This year, I’m re-visiting Minecraft with an Enderman pumpkin (and pumpkin yet to be revealed!). Here’s a little detail on how I did it.

Making a MInecraft Endermen PumpkinMaterials:

  • One big old fake carveable pumpkin
  • String of battery powered LED lights - I used purple.  Please use LED rather than traditional lights because LED lights don’t heat up and cause a fire hazard!
  • Black electrical tape
  • Black and white paint to make grey, or just use grey
  • Clear shrink film
  • Fine grit sandpaper (350 grit or higher)
  • Pink and purple colored pencils
  • Carving utensil
  • Clear gloss spray (optional)
  • Thumbtacks

Transparency statement - If you click the links above I get a little cred from Amazon. The links I’m providing are the actual products I used, so I do recommend them!

Step 1.  Paint your pumpkin black. I lucked out and got a black pumpkin so I could skip this step.  I then cut out two holes for the eyes.  According to the graphics I found, the eyes had a 1:3 ratio, so I made two holes 1″ x 3″, about 2″ apart. After the eyes were carved out, I used the graphics reference to freehand the grey markings for the face.  You could be official and tape off for super straight lines, but pumpkins are curved, so I just winged it. I did two coats of grey paint for the face, and also used black paint to darken the carved areas around the eyes.

Endermen Pumpkin

Step 1a (optional). After the grey paint was dry, I sprayed my pumpkin with two coats of glossy clear spray to seal in the paint. The original pumpkin was glossy and my grey paint was flat, so the clear coat evened out finish.

Step 2. Cut out two pieces of shrink film that measure around 7″ x 3.5″. Sand one side lightly with a fine grit sandpaper. Mark them into equal thirds with a light pink colored pencil, and color the middle section a purple, and the outside thirds in a pink or light purple.  Shrink them according to manufacturer instructions in the oven. Endermen PumpkinThey should end up measuring somewhere around 1.5″x 3.5″ with a more intense color (see picture).

Step 3. Take your string of 20 LED lights and organize them into two groups of 10 lights, about 3″ across.  Use the electrical tape to secure them in that arrangement, as in picture above. Take a minute to turn the lights on and off to annoy your children while they are trying to play Minecraft.

Endermen PumpkinStep 4. On the back of the pumpkin, carve a hole the exact size of the battery pack.  You’ll have to feed the grouped lights and the battery pack through that hole. Don’t push the battery pack all the way through! You want the pack to fit snuggly so it won’t fall out, but you need to be able to reach the switch to turn the lights on and off.

While you’re wielding the knife, cut a hole out of the bottom of the pumpkin large enough to fit your hand inside.

Step 5. Back the very edges of the eye pieces with electrical tape. The tape should cover about 1/8″ to 3/16″ on the edge of the pieces, and extend at least an inch on either side of the plastic. Slide the taped, plastic eye piece in place through the big hole in the bottom you just cut so they are centered behind one of the eyeholes. The tape will temporarily hold it in place, but it doesn’t stick well to the inside of the pumpkin. Use a thumbtack in each corner of the tape to hold it in place.  Do the same for the other eye.

Step 6. Use more thumbtacks to secure the LED groupings to the back of the pumpkin, about the same level as the eyeholes. The thumbtacks will go through the electrical tape holding the groupings together.

Endermen PumpkinStep 7. Put the piece you cut out of the bottom of the pumpkin back in place and secure it with the electrical tape.

Admire your handywork and annoy your children further by making them go in a dark room with you while you turn the lights on and off!


HtbaS - Episode 183

This week I talk about disappearing nine patches, games I play with my cats, and give a discourse on nature vs nurture as relating to quilt borders.

Owly Images

Random picture of my daughter reading this week, juxtaposed with one of me as a toddler, proving both nature AND nurture as related to couches in my family!

Owly Images Owly Images


Periodic Table Quilt - Finished!

Periodic Table Quilt

The Periodic Table quilt is finished! It does come together quickly since the most intense piecing is just squares and then a lot of long seams.

I used 3 1/2″ squares, so this quilt finishes at around 48″ x 66″, a decent sized lap quilt.  I had originally planned to use a gray for the background, but didn’t have enough yardage of a single gray to make that work, but the brown sets off the colors just as well. You’ll need around 2 yards of background fabric to make your own version.

Quilting... for SCIENCE!

The colors and square counts are on the graph paper to the left, but for those that can’t read my handwriting, you’ll need:

  • 13 yellow
  • 7 blue
  • 7 medium green
  • 11 orange
  • 38 aqua
  • 6 purple
  • 6 pink
  • 16 lime green
  • 16 red

To piece the various sections, I sewed the following chunks:

  • The pink column (plus one blue square) - leftmost column
  • The purple column - 2nd left column
  • Aqua middle chunk (with 1 lime green and 1 red square)
  • Right chunk with blue, orange, medium green, and one column of yellow
  • The yellow column - rightmost
  • Red / green rows - bottom

Then I cut the background fabric, mostly on the lengthwise grain so the long stretches don’t have any piecing in them (I think the 6 1/2″ x 30 1/2″ piece was the only one cut WOF). Once the color “element” chunks are pieced and pressed, here’s how it goes together:

  1. Aqua chunk sewed to a 6 1/2″ x 54 1/2″ piece of background fabric.
  2. Attached purple column and right chunk to either side of aqua/background chunk.
  3. Attach 3 1/2″ x 48 1/2″ piece of background to top of middle chunk.
  4. Attach leftmost pink column and rightmost yellow column to either side of middle chunk.
  5. Attach 9 1/2″x 54 1/2″ piece of background fabric to top of middle chunk.
  6. Attach 3 1/2″x 54 1/2″ piece of background fabric to bottom of middle chunk.
  7. Attach 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ piece of background fabric to left side of red/green row (make sure green is on top).  Attach 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ piece of background to right side of red/green row.
  8. Attach red/green chunk to bottom of middle chunk.
  9. Attach 9 1/2″x 54 1/2″ piece of background fabric to bottom of chunk below red/green rows.
  10. Attach two pieces 6 1/2″ x 48 1/2″ of background fabric to either side, completing the quilt top.

Periodic Table Quilt

Then you can figure out a backing -I went a little crazy and went with a rainbow theme! I quilted with one thread color in the elements, and a different color in the background.

And bonus picture of Nina. Assuming you can find her, as she is a mistress of camouflage!

The Quilter's Cat, in its natural habitat...

Psst… Wanna buy some charms? Tutorial

Psst... wanna hold some charms?A mildly naughty charm holder tutorial!

One of the guilds I belong to awards two types of charms for larger finished projects.  The first is the coveted Golden Thimble, which is for projects that are entirely stitched and quilted by hand that measure at least 280″ in perimeter. I don’t have one of those, but am hopeful my EPP project will get there (someday).  The second, which I’ve earned several times, is the Golden Scissors, which is for projects of the same size, but made with a sewing machine.  After collecting a couple of these tiny golden scissor charms, I started thinking I needed a fun way to hold them. And I started thinking about the random “scissor guy” that shows up at any sewing expo, who in fact has a legitimate booth, but I imagine him in dark alleys with a trenchcoat trying to push illicit scissors. So I made this guy in that vein.

Continue reading Psst… Wanna buy some charms? Tutorial

Bricks Quilt Block Tutorial

I mentioned in the podcast a couple episodes ago that I was working on a Turning Twenty inspired block that would be more suitable for smaller projects like baby quilts or lap-size quilts.  I love the simplicity of T20 quilts,  how quilt they come together, and the ability to show off large scale prints. I didn’t love how off balance it can be if you try to use it in a smaller project than twin size quilt.

This block finishes at 9″, and is still easy to cut and piece.  This is what the blocks look like:

And here’s the cutting plan for three different fabric sizes!

Fat Quarter

Fat Eighth

Layer Cake

With 9″ blocks, a layout of 6 blocks by 7 blocks will yield a quilt top that’s 54 x 63″, which is a nice size lap quilt.  You could make that with 14 fat quarters (getting 3 of each block element from each FQ), 28 Fat Eighth’s, or a layer cake set with 42 10″ squares.  To assemble the top, just start laying out your A Blocks and B Blocks in a random pattern until your happy with the placement of the values and colors:

Bricks Top Layout


Edited to add pictures of two finished tops with a 6×6 block layout - these measure 54″ inches square:


Quilted Picnic Placemats - Finish and a Mini Tutorial

Well, I forgot to take pictures along the way, but you’re in luck because quilted picnic placemats are much the same as regular placemats with two exceptions. Mine measure 15×18″, and are machine quilted and bound.  You can, of course, use pre-quilted fabric cut to size but I didn’t have any of that in my stash.

Thing 1: A set of 2 ties sewn into the edge of one side.  You can see from photo above that the ties are about 1/3 of the way up one side.  I placed them here so I could fold over the top of the placemat to keep the utensils in place. That way you fold over the top, roll it up, and tie it closed.

Thing 2: A small divided pocket for aforementioned utensils to slide into.  I stitched my pocket so two edges are under the binding (thus saving me from finishing two additional edges!). I believe my pocket piece measured 5″ x 12″, folded in half WST and stitched down on one side so I had two finished edges (the fold and the stitched edge - the fold is on top in the picture, and the stitched edge is the left side of the pocket). I trimmed the corner, flipped it right side out and stitched it down. Then attached the binding on top of it.

Composition Book Cover Tutorial

As mentioned in Episode 106, I’ve made a couple composition notebook covers to give as rather glorified gift card holders for Christmas this year.  Here’s how I did it:

Step 1 - cut a piece of fusible fleece (or other interfacing) to 15-1/4″ x 10″. I used fusible fleece because I had it, and I like the cushiness of it. You can use regular muslin for your foundation if that’s what you have on hand.

Step 2 - Fuse down your first strip of fabric (wrong side of fabric to fusible side of fleece), leaving an overhang of at least 1/2″ on all edges. Begin sewing other strips down, laying them right sides together and stitching with 1/4″, then flip it right side up and fuse each one until the entire piece of fleece is covered (with at least 1/2″ of fabric all the way around).

Step 3 - Flip your piece over and trim all the fabric to 1/4″ past the edge of the fleece.

Step 4 (omit if not making a gift card pocket)- Make a small pocket for the gift card by cutting a piece of fabric 3×5″ and folding it over. With an 1/8″ seam allowance, stitch around 3 sides, leaving an opening for turning. Clip corners as shown, then turn and press.

Step 5 - Cut two pieces 5 1/2″ x 10 1/2″. Make a 1/4″ hem on one long side of each piece and press. Position the gift card pocket you just made and stitch it down with a 1/8″ top stitch.

Step 6 - Test to make sure your gift card fits. If it doesn’t fit, sew your seam smaller than 1/8″ to stitch it down. Or make a slightly bigger pocket.

Step 7 - Which I forgot to take a picture of. Alas. Position the two large pieces, right sides together on the quilted piece (the finished edges of the large pieces will be toward the center of the fused piece). With a 1/4″ seam, stitch them down just on the outside of the fleece. Trim corners, turn and press.

Step 8 - Stitch down the non-pocket parts with the raw 1/4″ seam so they don’t flip during use. Tuck your composition book in and enjoy!

Here are two that I finished, with actual giftcards included!

The total cost for this project for me was about the same as buying a greeting card: $2 to $3. The composition book was $0.94 at Wal-Mart, the strips came from my scrap bin. and I had the fusible on hand.

Getting Perfect Mitered Joins in Binding

As promised in Episode 103, here is the tutorial for getting mitered binding joins in your quilts!

Step 1

Get a small cutting mat and mark with permanent market a line all the way across the mat. Then mark a square with the same dimensions as the width of your binding; I use 2 1/4″ width binding usually, so my marked square is 2 1/4″.

Stitch the binding down so you have about 6″ unstitched space on the quilt, with about 8″ of binding of each side so there’s plenty of overlap. Line up your mat so the line you drew lines up with the edge of the quilt.

Step 2

Flop one side of the binding down across the drawn square so the edge of the binding lines up with the edge of the quilt and the line drawn on the mat. Put your ruler so it lines up with the far edge of the drawn square (i.e. - the binding on the left side of the mat will get cut on the right side of the square). Cut the binding.

Flop the binding you just cut out of the way, and flop the other side in a similar way. Cut it on the other side of the square.  When you’re done cutting and flop both pieces back in place, it should look like this, so the overlap of the two pieces is the same as the width of the binding:

Step 3

Now you’ll need to fold the quilt a bit to get some “play” in the binding pieces.  Match them up right sides together with one piece at a 90 degree angle to the other, as you would join mitered strips when joining them regularly. Pin in place, and stitch on the diagonal.

Step 4

After stitching, trim the seam a quarter inch and finger press open. Voila!

Then stitch it down and admire your neat, clean binding join.


Since I buy my batting by the roll (usually in 25-30 yard lengths of 90″ wide), I end up with various odd sizes of batting leftover from projects that aren’t quite that big. And I’m also stubborn (and lazy) enough that I don’t want to pull out the gianormous roll of batting to cut off just a little bit for a small project like a wallhanging or tablerunner. Enter the Frankenbatting.

In my cutting table, one of the big drawers is reserved for batting scraps. It might be long skinny pieces leftover from trimming a quilt after it’s quilted, odd rectangles, or pieces big enough for a baby quilt. At one point they were folded nicely, but I believe now I am living by the “shove and pray” method of storing my batting scraps.

When the time comes for a small project to be quilted, I’ll paw around in the scraps until I find pieces that fit together to make the size I need.  For this example, I was piecing together scraps to quilt one of the recent tabletoppers, which is a rough octagon (think of a rectangle with the corners cut off, like all the paper in Battlestar Galactica). I butt the pieces of batting together for the layout - not overlapping, but edges touching.

I made some hashmarks with a Frixon pen. Since the quilt top and back is dark colored, the marks could have stayed on the batting, but I like that they’ll disappear with heat with that pen. Those blue arrows point to my hashmarks, and I make them about every 6 inches on both pieces of batting. This gives you a way to make sure you won’t have one piece of batting feeding faster than the other when you join them, ending up with a wavy humpy piece of batting for your quilt. You can imagine how I discovered that could happen.
To join the pieces together, I used the biggest, widest zig zag stitch on my machine. This is also an excellent opportunity to use the ugly thread that doesn’t match anything in your stash since this thread won’t be seen inside the quilt.  Once you get all your pieces marked and zig-zagged, voila! Frankenbatting.

HtbaS - Episode 91

I talk about the Scraps, Baby! quilt, being SMRT (with a mini tutorial on piecing tiny pieces), starting the Star Wars quilts, and a reminder to vote on stories and enter the giveaway.