Sunday, June 23, 2013

Progress & A Finish!


My house is quite again (my wonderful in-laws were visiting this week taking up my attention), so can now update you on progress.  I finished my class project!  It originally had a border, but the back piece was too small.  So, I just cut the border off and moved on.  I really like how it came out :)  (Please excuse the crappy picture. It was taken in a hurry while MIL and FIL were still here.  Also, Ducky just had to part of the picture no matter how much I coaxed).  I can't wait to show all the ladies!

I was running out of hexies in a couple colors, so unfortunately I am back to basting :/  But!  I am using the "flowers" I have done to start "squaring up" the freeform beginning.  That way I really have the beginning of a quilt - and, the pile was getting a little large for my box lol  Pictures of that soon :)

I am also looking forward to doing my Quilts for Kids (Q4K) project and starting my City Sampler Quilt at The Scrappy Quilter this week.  It should be a week full of quilting goodness :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Strawberry Banana Bread


The other day I found a Pinterest post about Blueberry Banana Bread that had a special ingredient in it - Greek yogurt!  I didn't have any blueberries, but I did have strawberries, so what did I make... Strawberry Banana Bread!  Honestly, I LOVE banana bread.  BUT, banana bread is my baking nemesis.  I have tried dozens of recipes.  Everything from old church lady recipes to modern test kitchen recipes.  It always comes out underdone in the center and usually burnt on the edges.  I HIGHLY recommend this bread.  It was easy and delicious!  AND, it came out perfectly!  This is definitely my go-to banana bread recipe from now on.  Thank you so much, Emily!!!!

The batter is delicious, too ;)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Project Update


I finished basting all the new hexies as anticipated.  I now have 112 more little hexies for my Baby Hexie Quilt.  I will be getting back to piecing today once I finish quilting my class project, which will be a pillow :)

Here's a shot of the pinwheel.  I did mark out the stippling, but changed it in a few places while quilting to make it flow more.

Here is a shot of the back with just the pinwheel done.  You can see the pattern and stitches a little better.  Not perfect, but not too bad for my first time, if I don't say so myself ;)

And here is the first background triangle.  I had marked these for stippling as well, but changed my mind.  Instead of remarking, I used a Zentangle approach to do echoing triangles.

And a shot of the back.  I have two more background triangles done now (both much more consistent).  I plan to finish the quilting today, so that I can show it off tomorrow at the shop when I go for Quilting for Kids (a charity project in San Antonio making quilts for cancer patients that are children.  It starts at 10a if you are interested in joining :)).  After that I'm going to finish the pillow and focus on the Baby Hexie Quilt as much as possible.  I HAVE to have it done my October!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hexie Baby Quilt Addition & Tip


From you the title I'm sure you have deduced that I am crazy.  I'm ok with that, because when I was at The Scrappy Quilter for my hand quilting class Thursday I spotted a couple of ADORABLE fabrics on clearance that I just knew needed to be part of the baby quilt.  We now know that the baby is a boy, so I wanted to add a dash of blue to the otherwise neutral quilt and the polka dots with the cream background just really matched too well to pass up :)

So, now I have twelve total fabrics going into the quilt.  Here they are all together.

You might have noticed that the new hexies look a little larger in the raw than the old ones.  That is because they are.  After basted hundreds of hexies with the 1/4" sew allowance and being careful not to let them fray while I am piecing, I swore to myself that I would not give myself such little wiggle room again.  I decided to cut these new hexies with a 1/2" seam allowance.  I don't care that it uses a little more fabric, it is SO much easier to baste - and I'm sure it will be easier to piece.  Do what you will, but I recommend larger than a 1/4" seam allowance.  It will help keep you just a little bit saner, which in my case, I'll take all the help I can get lol

At this point I have all the new hexies cut and all of 56 of the polka dots basted.  I should have all the blues basted today and I'll get back to piecing :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Loads of Fun at The Scrappy Quilter


Yesterday I took my first quilting class at my local quilt shop, The Scrappy Quilter (that I found for the first time the day before).  But let me back up and start by talking a little about the shop.  It's a little over a year old and is absolutely adorable and well organized.  They have fabric styles for everyone from beautiful Civil War reproductions to modern designer fabrics.  They even stock some up-and-coming designers.  But what really made them stand out to me was the service.  Everyone was truly, sincerely happy that I was there and wanted to make me feel at home.  They were joyfully informative and kind.  Not one person, staff or customer, acted like I didn't belong there (something I commonly get since I'm on the younger end of the crafty demographic).  They answered my questions truthfully - if they didn't know the answer they grabbed another quilter :)  Lisa, Michelle, and Alice (and Joyce the next day) took the time to get start getting to know me, AND they remembered me and details about me when I came back for the class.

I took a hand quilting class with Joyce and LOVED IT.  I wanted to take it to learn and meet some people in the area with like interests.  It turned out to be a one-on-one session, but I was ok with that.  Joyce was amazing and delightful.  She was very patient, thorough, and sweeter than wild honey.  I learned so much and will definitely take another class with her given the opportunity.  I have really taken to hand quilting.  Here's a close-up teaser of the project we started in class.

I highly recommend The Scrappy Quilter if you're in the San Antonio area, even if it's just for a visit.  You can find them in the Lone Oak Plaza in Schertz.  Their physical address is 1208 FM 78, Suite J
Schertz, TX  78154.  You can call them at (210)281-8667.  Feel free to visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

The day I found The Scrappy Quilter, I visited several other sewing/quilt shops.  No one spoke to me at the others, and if they did it was in such a way that I didn't feel welcome at all.  I can truly say that I have found my quilting home.  I'm already in love with the shop and the ladies.  I will be back there on Tuesday for Quilting for Kids and I'm seriously thinking about doing the City Sampler Quilt with them, too.  I really hope that you visit them.

Have you found your quilting home, yet?  I would love to hear about it :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Family's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies


We all need go-to recipes.  This is my go-to Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  Everyone that tries them loves them.  Warning:  they are addicting.  Their not overly sweet and they stay soft if you store them properly.  The batch is huge so you can definitely share with friends and neighbors (I took half of them to my new neighbors.  The kids were really excited :)).  I recommend using a cookie scoop whenever you dole out cookie dough.  It's an easy way to make sure that all of your cookies end up the same size and baking evenly.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Design Boards


I saw Lori Holt's Design Boards the other day and fell in love.  So what did I do?  Get foam board and felt (it was on sale).  My foam board was 30"x20", so I was able to to get six 10" squares out of the first piece.  I still want to make three 20"x10" design boards and one full size 30"x20" board.

I am very excited about my design board.  I have been using it as a lap work surface, but I also plan to use them like she discusses in the video for machine piecing :)

I would love to see yours!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Baby Quilt Update


I have been stitching away on this little quilt, which I am coming to realize needs a little more time and attention if I am going to get it all done by D-day.  I have switched to doing flowers since they are more portable and then I can put the flowers together to build rows of the quilt.  I finished up several more flowers since I took this picture (in my new lightbox).  So, I about have enough for a row.  I'm thinking that I should restrain from putting the rows together for awhile, though.  That way I can try to mix things up a little more overall.  We'll see if I can manage that ;)  I'm also getting pretty convinced that I going to need to cut and baste more hexies :/

***** check out the sidebar to track my progress between posts :) *****

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lightbox Woes


I made a new lightbox, since mine got tossed in the move, but I'm not entirely in love with it.  I don't think the pictures are coming out as nicely as they were with my old one.

This one I cut three sides out of a cardboard box, leaving about an inch border on the sides.  Then, I covered the sides with tissue paper and cut a piece of poster board for the back and bottom.  Ducky worked very had on helping me make the one.  My old one was made entirely out of computer paper.

I would love your opinions on how the pictures are looking.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Fur Babies Settling In


My fur babies are settling in nicely, but really don't appreciate all the noise that their Daddy had to make to get the surround sound hooked up and all the wires run inside the walls. lol

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reversible Beach Bag


T is graduating from 8th grade this today.  We are all so proud of how hard she has worked to improve her grades this year.  This past weekend she had her 8th grade trip to Splashtown (a Texas waterpark).  She was in need of a big over-the-shoulder bag that coordinated with her new coral, white, and black bathing suit.  Enter my need to sew for everyone.

Mama helped me a little with this project, since I had no real pattern and we wanted to pleat the top.  The bag is completely reversible.  And, as she requested the straps are ungodly long, so as to hit her on the hip.

You can see below that it holds quite a bit!  Her shoes, a couple of towels, sunscreen, hair stuff, a change of clothes, sunglasses,  baggies for the wet suit after, and all the other odds and ends that you need for a day trip to the waterpark.

It really turned out wonderfully, unlike the original I did before Mama got there.  That one resembled a papoose with straps that were way to long.  Unfortunately, we got so caught up in making a new one, we forgot to take a picture of the mistake bag before we took it apart for the straps. lol  Oops, my bad!  Just know that we all screw up, even when we think we know what we're doing.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Embroidery Floss Storage


Awhile back I saw someone on Pinterest storing their embroidery floss using clothespins.  When I saw this I realized how ingenious it was.  Clothespins are cheap and easy to come by and they store beautifully.  So before the move I decided to convert all of my opened floss to clothespin storage.

The original Pinterest Pin stopped at winding the floss on the clothespins, but the worst part of having opened floss is that if you run out during a project and need more of a specific color you're pretty much up a creek without a paddle.  So, I trimmed up the bands I had saved from freshly opened skeins, slid them, on the ends, and taped them down.  Now I have ingenious storage and I know the color number if I need more of that color (or just love it, like the one to the right).

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Cherry on Top


Something I'm loving about San Antonio so far is all the fresh produce!  I found these delicious cherries at my neighborhood HEB.  I'm devouring these fresh, but I'm hoping that I can get to can some soon.  First I have to finish unpacking everything though :/  I'm not letting myself indulge in canning or crafting until the house is in order - the only thing I'm letting myself do is the Baby Quilt during relaxing time.

Do you have a favorite summertime fruit?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sew Attracted


I mentioned in this post a few tools I found incredibly helpful, if not vital to my hand piecing project.  I now have another!  Mama gave me a magnetic wristband my Dritz that she found at a thrift store for practically nothing.  It was on some horribly uncomfortable and pretty much useless Velcro that kept falling off (sorry no picture of that, Ducky confiscated it to play with immediately lol).  So I took my happy butt to Wal-Mart and got a kids sized sweatband from the sports department and super glued that baby to it.  And the angel chorus proclaims its glory.  Now I have a comfortable and convenient wristband for holding on to my needle or helping me if I drop it :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hexie's To Go!


I have officially moved!  San Antonio here I am!  And, since I had to pack everything down, I made a little hexie travel tin :)  I found a 6" circle tin that is about 2 1/2" deep at a local resale store for a quarter.  It's perfect!  I was able to put several of each fabric hexie, a couple of cloth hexie's folded to hold my needle, my magnet wrist band, my scissors, my Thread Heaven, a spool of thread, and some extra needles.  It worked perfectly for the move, both around the house during the down time of packing, in the car, during the ongoing unpacking, everything.  Definitely recommend a travel kit of some sort when moving about whether you're actually moving, traveling, or just running around in everyday life.  I would love to see your travel kits :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Basting Success!


Shortly after I posted about my Baby Quilt WIP, I decided that now that my need to see the quilt actually started  was satiated I should finish basting all my little hexies.  So, I grabbed a shoe box (which will be made pretty with fabric once we get moved and my spray adhesive is unpacked), lined it, and started basting away.  Technically I didn't baste all my little hexies... The brown fabric with the pretty polka dots in the bottom right hand corner of the picture is a twill and caused some irritation (I will have a post regarding how I dealt with it soon).  As such, there will not be many of these guys in the quilt.  The back row of hexies in the picture is little more tightly packed than the others, so really there's about half a row of each except for the twill, the yellow, and the bluey color in the back.  Do I think that I will need all of these?  I have no idea. Honestly, I may actually be needing more if I did my math correctly.  We shall see :)

The leftover hexies that must find a new destiny :(

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Yummy Pie


I was jonesin' for something sweet and creamy with caramel and chocolate the other day, so what did I do?  Start rummaging around my kitchen!
(For the record in my throwing this and that together I ended up with a massive amount of this stuff.  Enough for a 9x13" pan.  I divided mine so that I could take most of it to some friends.)

I started by making a graham cracker crusted with chopped pecans throughout, pressing it into the pan, and baking at 400¡.  I used about 2 ½ cups (216g) of graham cracker crumbs, 1 ¾ cups (208g) finely chopped pecans, and 1 ½ sticks of melted butter.

Next I made my caramel.  Melt 2 sticks of butter with 8 oz (227g) by weight of brown sugar (forgot to get a cup measure :/ sorry) on medium low heat.  Once the sugar is dissolved, add to cans of sweetened condensed milk.  Stir this constantly (near the end is much more important that at the beginning) until you get a nice caramel color (basically as long as you can stand to stir the darn thing).  Let it cool just a bit and then pour and smooth it over your cooled crust.
(Next time if actually plan to make this dessert, I will use this method instead)

I cheated on my chocolate layer and used a large box of instant pudding mix.

Lastly, I made homemade whipped cream with heavy whipping cream, vanilla, sugar, and cream of tartar (cream of tartar is essential to your whipped cream surviving and not turning into a sweetened cream mess after a few hours).  Obviously I got impatient and didn't wait for my pudding to set up completely, so it didn't turn out as pretty as most of my creations... BUT it was GOOD!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spiced Pickled Pears


When I started canning the first thing I did was tackle my great-grandmother's Spiced Pickled Pears (a family favorite, especially of my father's, that I never got to try - just hear about my ENTIRE life).  Of course, it wasn't a full recipe, just a list of ingredients.  So, I did a bit of general canning research and came up with the attached recipe.

The longer you can stand to let the pears sit after canning the better.  Mama says that you should always put them up for at least a month.  Note that it is VERY important to use WHOLE spices.  Don't ask how I know...

You can use these for anything you like, but in my family it is traditionally found in a delicious cobbler that is simple and great for dessert or breakfast and never lasted long in our house when I was growing up.  I have attached this recipe, as well.

I truly love family recipes, especially ones from family member that I have only heard about.  They make me feel as if I am getting to know them :)  I am working on a project of going through hundreds, probably thousands, of recipes from my grandmother and great-grandmothers on my mother's side (from where these recipes hail) and compiling and indexing them for future generations.  Then I plan to preserve the originals.  Eventually, I would love to publish a cookbook. :)
Download this picture and print it on an index card.  It is formatted for the proper dimensions of a 3x5 or 4x6 card.

Download this picture and print it on an index card.  It is formatted for the proper dimensions of a 3x5 or 4x6 card.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Some More Hexie Tips


As you saw in my last post, not all of the really cute polka dot hexies got basted for the baby quilt.  Why?  Because, twill is NOT ideal for this application.  Live and learn, right?  Well I do have a little trick for you if you decide to torture yourself for an adorable print, too.

Start out as usual, but then come back up on the outer side of the fold a little closer to the edge of the hexie.  You want to be close to the fold, but not catching any threads of it.  Go down either in the original hole as shown below or near it.  The goal is hold down the fold securely.  

Make sure that when you are sewing other hexies to your twill hexie you have the twill hexie facing you.  Otherwise it will fray as you can see below.  Fraying will also occur if you let your working thread get caught on the seam allowance, which is what actually happened below but the effect is the same as not sewing the correct direction.

One last thing - when you go to remove your paper from the twill hexies, take care to really pull out your stitches before the paper, otherwise you will tear the paper.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Never Enough Pincushions


As you know, I am a novice sewer, therefore am in the process of acquiring all the necessary, and unnecessary, supplies and tools for the craft.  Thanks to Mama I have much of the essential things, but I have found that I am constantly needing a pincushion!  

I found this tutorial by Kim at My Go-Go Life.  Since I am considering using the Cathedral Window pattern when I make a quilt for my parents (Mama's requested Christmas present lol), I decided pincushions would be a great way to practice :)  I highly recommend Kim's tutorial.  I didn't have a bit of problem following along and the results are gorgeous (and very functional), don't you think?  I filled mine with rice, since it's ultra cheap and I like pincushion it creates more than batting (plus no shedding).  I followed the tutorial to a tee on the first one (back button not being a shank-style button excepted), but on the second one I didn't do a seam on the backing (not the easiest place to fill the pincushion when using rice), instead I left a small hole on side for turning and filling and then used the same ladder stitch to close it up in the end.  I love both of them :)

If you make one, please share!  Also, Kim has a Flickr Group set up for sharing, as well, so that she can see.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hexie Tip


In doing hundreds of hexies for this baby quilt that I'm working on I have discovered a tip in creating an even seam allowance all the way around.

Starting by finger pressing two opposite sides at the same time, preferably with the grain.

From here just make your folds and basting stitches as described in my previous post, making sure to line up by pressing your first sides periodically.

When you get to the opposite side from your start, lift up that side and make your fold (I'm slightly OCD and like all of folds going the same way), and continue around following the same pattern.

Look at that beautiful hexie!  Quick, easy, and nicely symmetrical :)

If anything wasn't clear please let me know and I will clarify.  And, if you're working on a hexie or English Paper Piecing quilt, I would love to see it!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bright & Sparkly


I've been rather under the weather as of late, so I decided to perk myself up with a nice manicure.  Life is always more fun when you sparkle ;)
I started with my go to coral - a nice bright springy/summery coral by Essie called e-nuf is e-nuf.  Then I layered Essie Luxeffects Set in Stones over the top and of course finished it all off with a generous layer of Seche Vite.
Summer here I come!  What's on your nails?  Are manicures therapeutic for you, too?

Precuts Demystified


For those of you wondering about precuts, they fall into a couple of categories.

  1. Charm Packs - packs of (usually) 40-42 coordinating 5" squares. All from a particular line of fabrics, usually one square of each from the line.
  2. Layer Cakes - same as Charm Packs, but 10" squares instead of 5" squares.
  3. Jelly Rolls - 2.5" strips the WOF (width of the fabric), again in coordinating fabrics from a line or color palate.
  4. Honey Bun - same as Jelly Rolls, but 1.5" strips.
  5. Dessert Rolls - same as Jelly Rolls, but 5" strips.
  6. Turnovers - same principle as the Charm Packs and Layer Cakes, but in a 6" triangle.
*All of these are also sold in solids or stacks/rolls of one solid color, e.g. white.*

This page from Minnesota Charms has loads of Precut Math already worked out for you if you're making a quilt, or want to make your own precuts. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reversible Bag


Man, long time no blog!  My bad, y'all.  Life has this funny way of getting in the way.  Anyhoo, today I have a fun little bag for you.  It's actually a Reversible Bag by Novita, but I have no intention of flipping it because I added this cute embroidered pocket (which is the perfect size for my cellphone ;)).  I also added an identically sized pocket on the inside for my keys.

For the embroidery I printed the art I liked onto the paper side of freezer paper and ironed it to my fabric.  Then I simply stitched over it. I also poked extra holes with my needle as I went to perforate the paper well, because the next step is simply to pull off the paper when finished.  I did this on just one layer of my pocket fabric and then stitched a second layer to the back, so that the back on my embroidery was enclosed.  It's much neater and I don't have to worry about catching and undoing knots and such.

I didn't do the straps the same way as she did in the tutorial.  Honestly, I got going and forgot to look at the instructions and just did them the way it made sense to the at the time. lol. Her way is wonderful, too, but I thought you might want another option.

First, I pressed my seams and pinned the last 4" to be sewn (after all other steps), leaving one side raw.

The second side I pressed the edges under.

Then I pinned the raw edged straps inside the "finished" ones.

Next I sewed a nice double lined seam to add a professional finish and strength to my bag :)

If you make one I would love to see it!

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