Thursday, September 29, 2011

sneak peek for baby Ben

I'm busy this week working on another baby boy quilt. This time for my nephew's new son, Ben. I can't show much because I want it to be a surprise, but couldn't resist giving you a tiny bit of a reveal.

It's coming together very quickly, and I'm hoping to have it completely finished next week!

High school homecoming weekend here for Thing 1 and Thing 2 - lots of activities planned for that :)

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

under construction

Woo-hoo!  The new header is loaded and looks great!  Thanks a million, Lynn :)

I still want to do some tweaking of text color and fonts, but I'm a little weary of techno-fussing tonight. The plan is to get it all finalized this weekend.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FiestaWare pillow for Lynn

My good friend Lynn has been hard at work designing a new logo for my blog. All the tweaking I've asked her to do, combined with my very limited technical knowledge, have amounted to a greater task than she probably expected. She's just fine-tuning the size now in order to get the header loaded. Very exciting!

When we initially talked about this project, I asked what I could pay her in return, and she immediately came back with, "I'd love an Elsie's Girl original pillow." Well, I can certainly do that!! So here it is....

Lynn loves FiestaWare colors - particularly peacock blue, grass green, red, and sunshine yellow. And flowers. Lots of flowers. She has the ding-dong cutest cottage house full of the perfect combination of antiques and modern touches, and she recently revamped her in-home office area to accommodate her two computers. They now sit on a long, skinny toboggan mounted upside down to the wall. How clever is that??

I debated long and hard about the perfect pillow to make for her, and finally landed on this Dresden flower made from Heather Bailey Pop Garden and Bijoux fabrics. The background and other solids are Kaffe Fassett shot cottons in Indigo, Lime, Scarlett, Lemon, and Jade.

I added some embroidery to the center flower to punch it up a bit - the added texture just really makes that fussy-cut flower stand out. Initially I had machine-quilted around the center flower petals, but I didn't like that look combined with the embroidery. I ripped out that quilting and hand-quilted in the same space with DMC floss. The needle holes from the machine quilting made the perfect markings for spacing my hand-quilting stitches!

There is a zippered backing for easy removal to wash the pillow cover. The shot cotton felt a little flimsy for a zipper, so I added some lightweight fusible interfacing to the entire pillow backing to make it more durable.

The pillow looks pretty great in her cozy, sunny, family room area. I'm sooo happy that she loves it, and I'm even happier about the fabulous new logo she's made for me! I can't wait to show it to you :)

Monday, September 19, 2011


The quilt I made for baby Levi is featured today at Modern Day Quilts!

Modern Day Quilts

I was correct when I told you Levi has a bright future ahead of him; he is famous already!!

To get your recommended daily dose of modern quilting inspiration and ideas, become a follower of Modern Day Quilts!

Thanks Heather, for an exciting start to my week :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

fat quarter drawstring skirt

My friend Stephanie over at Venus de Hilo makes the most fun fat quarter skirts that I have long coveted, and now she has put together a great tutorial for making her easy drawstring skirt from six fat quarters. Recently my friend Andrea and I had a sewing day to make these skirts for ourselves.

Stephanie's instructions are well written and the diagrams very helpful, especially when it comes to making the pattern. She provides a formula that allows you to tailor the pattern based on your hip measurement. We each created a pattern on freezer paper - this was the most time consuming part - but the pattern can be re-used every time we want to make another skirt.

Here is the front view of my skirt. I used six fat quarters from Prints Charming that I bought a couple of years ago with the intention of making a bag. They look so much cuter as a skirt! My husband liked it, saying that it was "cute, fun, well-fitted, and just on the verge of Laugh In, but in a good way." I think he means my fabric choice :)

And this is the skirt back view. You can really only distinguish five different fabrics because the sixth is used for the drawstring and drawstring casing.

I have a bit of an odd shape with regard to my waist/hip ratio. In other words, my hips are larger than they should be to correspond proportionally with my waist. So when my skirt was finished, I had quite a bit of fabric that was gathered in by the drawstring, which is not a very flattering look for me. So I cut the waist in much farther on my pattern, using a fitted skirt from my closet to gauge a better waist measurement. I had to rip out most of the seams to cut the waist down to a better size for me, but now the whole thing is reassembled and ready to wear. Assembly time from pattern making to ready to wear was about 4 hours. My re-do of the pattern and skirt waist took me an additional 90 minutes, but now I've got a custom pattern that I can use again and again to make multiple skirts from all those teetering stacks of fat quarters in my fabric closet! I even managed to wear my new skirt a couple of times before the fall chill hit the air here in the Midwest, and I received many compliments :)

If I knew then what I know now, I probably would have started out with muslin, or used fat quarters that I had no intention of ever wearing, to test out my pattern. Then I would have avoided the unsewing steps, and I probably could have had another set of fat quarters assembled into a skirt from the revised pattern in the same 90 minutes it took me to re-work the original.

Thanks, Stephanie, for a thorough and well-planned tutorial! I do love a great skirt!

You can see all of Stephanie's skirts (and my new one too) over here at her flickr group.  If you're inspired to make a skirt (or three or four) from her tutorial, please let both of us know and share your photos!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Italian Tiles and French dessert

Today I finally started quilting my Italian Tiles batik quilt that's been in progress since February, 2010. It has another couple of borders added to what you see here, but you get the basic idea.

It's taken quite a bit of trial and error to discover the best way to mark the quilting lines. Let's just say that Pounce chalk is not all it's cracked up to be. I had the entire thing marked 2-3 times (with hairspray to set the lines and without) only to have the chalk lines rub out once I got the quilt over to the machine to start stitching. Arrgghhh! The solution appears to be tracing the quilting motifs on Sulky Solvy and pinning it to the quilt top to follow the marked lines with the stitching. Thank you, Vicki, for this solution!

After you have stitched all around the motif, you can simply tear away the Solvy leaving no residue but lovely quilting :) Or you can wait and dunk the entire quilt in water after quilting - the Solvy just dissolves. But don't get it wet on the counter when tracing your pattern! (Ask me how I know this.)

Our first session of baking along with Martha Stewart was a huge success! Thing 2 and I made Pate Sucree for the first time, and it was so easy with exceptional results!

The custard filling was so smooth, rich and creamy that we really didn't even need to dress it up with a tart shell and berries, but we did! For your viewing and salivating pleasure, here are our four custom-topped Summer Fruit Tarts...

This one with the avalanche of confectioner's sugar is mine. All mine.

And lastly, this little fruit tart "Chihuahua" was staring up at me as I decided if stuffing myself with the last bit of tart was a good idea. I did. And it was.

We only made a half-batch of pastry dough, which made 6 tart shells. No sharing this round. Your chances are probably better next time, friends, with the Tiramisu Cupcakes.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Levi's quilt

My dear niece and her husband welcomed son Levi in early August. He's a beautiful boy who has a very bright future indeed given his wonderful parents and all the love coming from his overjoyed extended family. This is the latest addition to his nursery; I've heard that he really likes it :)

Lots of love went into the planning and making of this quilt. What an unparalleled joy it is to welcome a new baby!

Pattern is Dots 'n Boxes available here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

sewin' and cookin' and Martha

One day late in August, Thing 2 finished up two projects in a fit of productivity right before school started. (She's a freshman this year. A fact that is causing me loads of anxiety because I literally don't know how this is possible since she was riding in a car seat only last week...)

First finish was this bright and funky table runner for her bedroom. She was smitten with the pink floral Alexander Henry prints the moment we walked into an LQS, and carried a bolt around with her until finding the perfect pattern. The front of the table runner has the focus fabric paired with some coordinating AH and other prints:

The back is one solid piece of a striped AH print. She stitched the binding on entirely by machine (her first try at this technique) and likes it so much better than hand-sewing it to the back.

The pattern she used:

Immediately after the table runner finish, she brought out an apron that was already cut out - only the assembly steps to go! We purchased this fabric from our local JoAnn's store, but it feels like pretty good quality stuff. The pattern she used is Simplicity 2691.

The perfect baking apron!

I may have mentioned before that our family loves, loves, loves desserts. In fact, we have two 3" binders dedicated to recipes in our kitchen. The first binder is tab-divided into categories like Salads, Veggies, Chicken, Seafood, Pasta - all that stuff you've got to eat to stay alive and healthy. The other binder is tab-divided into Coffeecakes, Brownies & Cookies, Cakes, Pies & Tarts, Cheesecakes, Ice Cream & Custards - all the foods that make eating fun!!

Now here's where Martha comes in... Last week while eating dinner, we were lamenting the fact that we had had no dessert in the house for three nights and hatched a plan. We would cook our way through Martha Stewart's three dessert cookbooks à la "Julie and Julia"! Due to work and school time constraints (and our mutual desire to avoid obesity) we will not have a one-year deadline for this challenge. Rather we will choose 1-2 desserts to bake, evaluate, and share with friends each week. And we won't be baking everything in the books - certainly nothing with "Prune" in the title.

First up for this weekend: Berries and Cream Tartlets on page 33 of Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts. Other cookbooks we'll be using are Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and Martha Stewart's Cookies.

Stay tuned for updates on our dessert-a-palooza! It needs a better name, though. Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Sampler re-do

After seeing all the lovely Summer Sampler quilts in the flickr group with sashing, I was less and less thrilled with my quilt. It seemed like a jumbled mess with all the blocks all scrunched together. So I ripped it all apart again and added some 2" finished white sashing with cornerstones:

Now all those lovely blocks can breathe and stand apart on their own. Much better!

I'm not sure I've ever taken apart an entire quilt top; that was probably the most action my Jack the Seam Ripper has ever seen. It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be - probably because I did it at my SewMod Sunday sew-in group and had lots of encouragement (and food and wine) from my friends :)

What's the biggest "un-sewing" project you've ever undertaken?


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