Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Little Piece of My Heart...Valentine's Wallhanging

heart piece quilt

Big smiles today.  My Valentine's wall-hanging is finished and hanging on the wall as we speak.  It's always a relief when something you think in your mind is going to be pretty...actually is pretty once it's all said and done.  I used two old sheets when making this...The white background fabric was a percale sheet.  Let me tell you a little something about percale...it has the same number of threads going up and down as it does side to side...you know what this means...no stretch.  So, if your quilting needs a little....we'll call it...easing...once in a while, like mine might...then stretch is a big deal.

I will say that I am so happy with how the appearance of this turned out.  On every single one of those half square triangles I used a piece that was red or pink (mostly) and the other half was from another sheet that was a cream color with pretty roses on it (not percale).  This is the perfect meshing of patterns.  I love patterned fabric...but even I can admit that sometimes too many patterns can make your eyes go crazy...so a solid every now and again makes things so much nicer.  I was using the cream floral as my solid...what, it's totally a solid.  Look, if these fabrics are neutrals...then those are solids.  HAHA!  The reason this is good, is because it gives the eyes a place to rest for a minute to regroup from the madness of the other prints.  You do not become overwhelmed by just a ton of wild fabric.

It is hanging in my living room proclaiming for the entire world...Danni of Silo Hill Farm, that even I...have at least ONE Valentines piece for my house.  And yes...that is all I have..unless you count that pillow in the corner there...that is the first half of a Valentine's duo of pillows....the o's.  The x's are somewhere on a piece of paper getting envisioned...

But, my house is grateful.  It feels like it's almost one of the cool houses on the block...finally!  It's like when all the cool kids in school were wearing Guess and Girbaud Jeans...and you got Chic jeans from Shopco...and then...all of a sudden one Christmas, your Mom...I mean Santa...buys you some off-season, clearance item, white Girbaud shorts.  Oh yes...now who's the cool kid.

 Terrible shot of my binding here, but I chose to go with a light binding.  I didn't want to distract attention away from the fun heart.

The back.  I have always enjoyed putting a little whimsy on the back of my quilts.  Whether it's just pairing completely unexpected fabrics or if it's doing a little something like this with some of the scraps I have left over.  Make your backs fun...but cheap!  I do not believe in breaking the bank for the back.

Once Valentine's is over, this is going in My Youngest's bedroom...until next Valentine's when I will steal it from her again.  She loves pink and red.  Although, if you notice the very bottom half square triangle at the furthest tip...she told me I'd done it wrong...but she still liked it.  Gee...thanks.  I guess I could have put a solid square there...but chose not to.  Live and learn.

Thanks for reading!


Shared at these beautiful blogs:
Feather's Flights
Sew Many Ways
Sew Chatty

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vanilla Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate & Peanut Butter Frosting...Heather's Inspiration Cafe

vanilla shortbread peanut butter chocolate frosting

Hi everybody, it's my turn over at Inspiration Cafe and I have made these cookies...if you are looking for something that uses simple ingredients but is a show stopper..then these are for you.  Yummy buttery shortbread cookies topped with an elegant chocolate peanut butter frosting...Oh yes...you must make these.

So, come read my post, I think you will be extremely pleased you did.

If you would like to guest post at the Inspiration Cafe, we'd love for you to let one of us know, or go HERE to our submissions page.
If you've never written a guest post before, that's OK, we're happy to teach you how with this easy step-by-step tutorial HERE. It's easier than you might think and a great way to get exposure for you blog!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Indoor Activities for Kids....AKA...go away winter...NOW

If winter's icy grip has your kids bored to tears...you might just have to get a little bit creative...if you don't want to hear this...Mommmmm, I'm borrred.    Or...Mommmmm what can I play?  And if you're anything like me, what the tube has to offer isn't what you're looking for.  I don't mind my kids watching a bit of TV...but I want them to run and play and be creative.  So, if your life is anything like mine is and there's a pile of nasty snow outside and the kids are getting antsy for summer, then take heart...there is something for them to do and it's right in your pantry.

Grab all the paper and plastic cups you can find...and let them go at it.

It's amazing where they go when they play with a bunch of cups.  Their imagination takes flight.

My Youngest took it upon herself to build the Eiffel Tower...I love how she is like me and is a bit ambidextrous.  Go right hand and left hand!

indoor activities kids

Oh the agony when it comes tumbling down!

Oh wait...a new and ingenious idea on how to get her cups to stack better...stand on the step stool...


When your cups won't stack, you can always practise your dance moves!

And then cut the cups into beautiful bracelets!

We are now approaching hour number two with zero complaints...I am down a few dozen cups...but it is worth it.

Good luck making it until spring and thanks for reading.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Re-Purpose your sweaters into boot liners...Inspiraton Cafe

Yesterday you met the talented Tammy from Deja Vue Designs when she showed us a project using parts from an "old" sweater...

Today we have another sweater re-purposing project from Trina of A Few Miner Adjustments.  Who knew you could make so many different projects with one old sweater!?  So keep your feet warm, put 'em up and get comfy if you like, grab a mug of your favorite brew and meet Trina...

             We are so very happy to have her visiting the Cafe today!

Just click on the Cafe to be taken there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

mitered baby blanket...AKA super cute

I have made my sister three mitered baby blankets now.  One for each of her children.  She has taken them to the hospital with her each time and each time she has gotten raves about them.  Where did you get that adorable blanket?  My Sister made it.  I must have one...where can I buy that?  You can't.  You have to make it.

So, you get the idea.  This little blanket is a big hit!  It is a bit complex though, so I would say if you are a beginning sewer, go for it...but be prepared to have to pay a lot of attention to the pattern...or you can do what I did, and take a class.  I am very happy with this blanket and best of all, there is a free tutorial where you can get all the details on how to make it.  Click here for the free pattern.

I will say this about the measurements...the bigger you make it, the longer you can swaddle your baby in it.  So, if you take a normal piece of fabric, the biggest square you can cut out of it without sewing anything is about a 40" X 40" square.  If you feel like making it a bit bigger, you can, you will just have to sew a panel on to make it bigger.  45" X 45" would be a nice size, because then you would only need 1 yard of your inner fabric.  Saving money on fabric is always a good thing.  Ummmm...I would like to point out, in case you might not have noticed in the upper left hand corner of this picture...is a nude Ken doll.  Dolls in this house never seem to wear clothes for very long...righty then.

Also, it is very important, you need to become aware of grain of fabric.  There's a Crosswise grain and a lengthwise grain.  Lengthwise grain doesn't stretch if you tug gently.  Crosswise grain does stretch.  So, if you are going to make it larger, make sure you sew lengthwise to lengthwise or crosswise to crosswise so that the stretch is the same across the entire piece.

I don't know what I was trying to tell you in this picture.  We'll just go with...PEACE!

I was probably trying to say that you have to line up two sides of the blanket to make that flap in the corner because you are going to sew a 45 degree angle on that flap then cut off the rest.  It's quite adventurous to chop a flap of fabric...it's thrilling really...because what if you cut wrong?!?!  OHHHHH the horror!

See, you draw on your line, then pin the fabric together so you don't get shifting and then...

That's right.  CHOP!  Better pray you had your angle correct!  Cause that piece of fabric ain't coming back.

mitered flannel baby blanket girl

Here it is in all it's glory.  You can see that you have the two fabrics with the larger of the two coming around from the back and making a cute border for the front.  My Youngest helped me choose the kitty cat fabric.  Choose something VERY VERY soft.

The two individual pieces of fabric can come apart in the wash, so I sew lines through the middle.  This one I went from corner to corner, across the middle and down the middle in the shape of a giant asterisk.  I think it turned out good.

My cute back fabric.

Thanks for reading!

Shared here:
Feather's Flights


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cook a bunch...Save it for later!

beef vegetable freezer soup

Remember this soup...I call it OMG Beef and Vegetable Soup and it really is amazing. It uses a bunch of veggies and heart healthy grains and beans and lentils and my entire family actually eats it...even My Youngest who isn't a very good eater.  The only problem, is that it is time consuming.  It's not hard, but you do have to chop a bunch of vegetables and you have to let it simmer for a couple of hours so...you are making a bit of a commitment when you make it.

So, the next time I made it...I made a big a big improvement on my method...I made a double batch.  One to eat that night and the other to freeze and eat at a later date.  I did have to wash two giant pots and had to chop twice the amount of veggies...but once you're going it really doesn't take very much more time than doing a single batch.

I actually did more than just cook a double batch of  soup, I also browned up a couple of pounds of ground beef with onion and salt and pepper to freeze as well.  The nice thing about having some already browned ground beef ready to go...is you can turn it into so many things on the quick.  Tacos.  Chili.  Spaghetti Sauce.  Loose Meat Sandwiches.  It is a great thing to have on hand.

Here's what I did.  To start, I bought a 4 lb. package of ground beef.  I got out my two giant pots, you see above, put a splash of oil in each, heated them up over medium high heat and placed two lbs of ground beef in each.  I let them brown up nicely, then added a diced onion to each pot and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Once the meat was browned, I took the meat from one of the pots, let it cool then placed it in a zip top bag and popped it in the freezer.  The other pot I split the cooked ground beef evenly between the two pans and then commenced making a double batch of soup.

So, in one evening I had dinner.  Soup for another time and two lbs of ground beef to use at a later time.  This is something I encourage everyone to do.  If you are cooking something that is easy to make multiples of...do it.  It will save you time another day and make you a happier homemaker.

Oh by the way...
Mrs. Hines is back at the Cafe to show us how to tackle those big home organizing projects. You don't want to miss this if your desk and crafting area look anything like mine!!!

Head on over to the Cafe...

This project shared Here:
Coastal Charm
Adventures of a DIY MOM
Nap-Time Creations
My Uncommon slice of suburbia
Sugar Bee Crafts
Crafty Confessions
Lady bug Blessings

Thanks for reading!


Monday, January 21, 2013

6 Simple & Sweet Valentine Decorations...Inspiration Cafe

Hey everybody!  Today over at the Inspiration Cafe Mary from Sweet Little Bluebird is going to get you inspired to make some awesome and easy Valentine's Day projects!  Six of them to be exact!
 All of these are great projects!  So if you're in a Valentine's Day rut.....head on over to the Inspiration Cafe and pick any one of these and give it a try......Mary will show you how with directions for each one of these great projects! 
Click here to read more...Valentine's Decor at Inspiratin Cafe

If you are interested in guest posting at the Cafe, please contact us or visit the GUEST POST page at the Cafe.  If you have never written a guest post before and aren't quite sure what to do....we wrote an article to take you through it step-by-step and you can find it by clicking HERE.  It's a great way to get exposure for your blog!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blaming it on the head cold

It's not my fault.  I said so in the title.  I am blaming this on the head cold.  If you aren't a quilter...you might not know what I'm talking about...but this is a big fat mistake.  All...or at least mostly all of the triangle points up there should meet neatly in each corner.  If you look closely, you will see that my points aren't matching up.  Any of them.  This is bad...very, very bad.


The real tragedy is...I didn't make the connection until after I'd cut a goodly amount of fabric and had mis-sewn a grundle of squares made up of half square triangles...right then.

That pile up there...all bad!  I was supposed to cut my half square triangle fabrics into 2.5" x 2.5" squares.  Did I do that?  NO!  I cut them into 2.25" x 2.25" squares.  In an alternate universe somewhere...I may have just said...ehh....what's the big deal with 1/4" anyway and would have kept sewing.

Uhhhh...it is a big deal.  My 18 year old self wouldn't have worried about it, but as I am a much more conscientious quilter now...my 34 year old self knows this is no good.  Clearly my points are nowhere near matching up.  As I was sewing the last two rows I kept thinking, huh, I must not be cutting very accurately because my seams sure aren't matching up very well.  

 But it didn't compute.  I went about my business, kept on sewing then cut up some more fabric pieces...and then I started matching up some of the fabric I'd cut....wrong...with the previous fabric I'd cut...correctly and I thought....huh, man, I see what I did...I cut all this fabric 1/4" too big!!  

And went about "fixing" some of the pieces that were too big...then after I'd cut a considerable amount of perfectly good squares into perfectly unusable smaller squares...realization hit...big time.   Ohhhhhhh man!  I was supposed to cut the half square triangles 2.5" not 2.25"  dangblastitall!

Yeah....that up there is what is known as myself having a conversation with myself...and it's not going very well for...myself. 

So, as it would be terribly difficult for me to find all the patchworks pieces that I cut incorrectly in the above piece, I have made a few measurements and decided what I will do is toss the last two rows.  Those seem to be mostly sewn with the wrong size half square triangles.  There may be some in the previous rows...but it's not as obvious.

Sigh.  It is very disheartening to make a mistake like that and realize all your time and all that fabric are now for naught.

I now have several 2.25" x 2.25" squares made of seriously pink half square triangles.  I will save them, of course, and hopefully find a use for them at some later time.  In the meantime...I will find my seam ripper and weep into my Valentine's quilt as I tear away yesterday's work.

Fear not dear friends, I will not be defeated...I will just pay better attention next time.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Get your mending on

patch pants cute
My brother-in-law told me recently that even though I have girls, they play like boys.  It's true.  My daughters are the rough-housing, chase the dog around the house, wrestle things to the ground and crawl around like whatever animal they are playing today, kind of girls.  Quite often this involves shimmying around on their hands and knees...and wearing out the knees in their pants.  I am not completely opposed to my kids wearing holey jeans...I'm frugal...but it isn't my favorite either to have them running around like a bunch of ragamuffins.  So....patch time.  But not just any patches...oh no...we're giving their jeans an all new style.
That would be the pile of pants needing mending in my house...

So, you start with a rip.  Turn the article of clothing inside out.

Cut out a piece of fabric that extends past the rip a good inch on all sides.  Pin it in place.  It is probably a good choice to use a piece of fabric that has been pre-washed.  I know this is difficult as I rarely pre-wash my fabric before using it and so therefore rarely have scraps that have been pre-washed.  This is a piece of old sheeting that I am using to make my Valentine's quilt.  So, I actually did use pre-washed in this case.  I wouldn't say it was a complete necessity, but fabric does shrink a bit...so be forewarned.

Turn pants right-side-out now.  First step is to make a blanket stitch around the rip. I used 4 strands of regular embroidery thread. You can either use a contrasting color of thread or try and match it to the pants.  You can also choose to trim away the raggedy ends or as I did here, tack them down with some simple running stitches.

Using a running stitch, circle around and around the patch to help reinforce the weakened fabric..plus it looks cute.  When you are finished with your stitches, turn the garment inside out again and trim away the excess fabric.  I would say leave approximately 1/4" of fabric around your stitching.

Here's a sort of up close so you could see the stitches in the middle.  Obviously pale yellow thread doesn't really show up that great.  Oh well.

Here is an example of a patch that I decided I didn't like.  So I unpicked the red running stitches.  If you're not loving something...change it.

I mended leggings.  Gave these ones some cute little embroidered flowers using the daisy stitch.

Remember the one above that I didn't like...this is what I changed it too.  I used a lighter shade of embroidery floss for the running stitches than the blanket stitch around the rip and gave this one some flowers as well.  So cute!

Here's an example of matching my thread to the color of pants.  So, you don't see my stitches much, but the pattern on the patch fabric comes through.  Both my girls are thrilled with their "new" pants...and I'm thrilled that I am not buying new pants half-way through the school year.

Thanks for reading!!

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting my Valentine's butt in gear!

I am not known for decorating my house on holidays except for the big two....Halloween and Christmas.  So, a few days ago I was talking to the lovely Danni from Silo Hill Farm and she told me to get my ever loving tuckus in gear and make something using datgum red, white and pink...it sort of sounded like that...at least it did in my mind.  See, here's the thing, I made a reference to Coal Miner's Daughter in this post and Danni is the only one who caught it...or at least made comment on it.  So, she then recommended me to read a book called...

...I just realized you can hardly read the title on the book up there.  It's called Prayers for Sale, by Sandra Dallas and it's about a woman who has lived in the high mountains of Colorado in a mining community for her entire adult life.  It's early 1900's now and she's an old woman and her daughter wants her to leave her home in the mountains and move in with her. So, she's tidying up her affairs and helping a young wife who has just moved there with her husband, acclimate to mountain life.  It's all about quilting and women passing on wisdom...and so far I am loving it.  Last night The Mister asked me what I was reading and I told him it was about quilting and mining and....he said... No, no...it's too late to talk about quilting and mining.

You see, he used a technique of my own when he wants to talk math and science.  I have a rule that I can only discuss such matters after 8 am and prior to 9 pm.  Apparently he has the same threshold for quilting/mining talk that I do about math/science talk.

Alright, back to matters at hand.  Because of Danni...and all that up there, I have started making a Valentine's wall-hanging.  Now, if you want to see some seriously cute Valentine's decorations, check out her blog that I linked to above.  She's got some talent!!!

I am using a strip technique where you map out your pattern and then sew in downward strips and then sew all the strips together.  Hopefully...when all is said and done, this will be a heart.

The three strips on the right have been sewing together.  I just match up seams and sew.  The two on the left are waiting to be stitched.  It's a bit of an experiment so I'll just see how it turns out.  I am using all half square triangles to fill in the middle bit and I am pointing all the triangles along the outer edge the same directions with a dark color.  Hopefully this ends up looking liking a heart and not something freakish.  We'll see, won't we.

My homemade pattern.  See, anybody can design a quilt.  This particular type of quilt is nothing new.  Just google "heart quilt" and you'll see a dozen similar quilts.  The strip method I am using makes what looks like a daunting task, much simpler.  As I complete a strip, I just draw a line through it and move on to the next.  I count how many white squares on top and bottom I need and how many half square triangles I need in the middle and sew them together in.

Once I had my pattern figured out, I grabbed a pile of red and pink fabric and then set about cutting them into squares.

Of course there's a bit of trial and error when it comes to getting things just right.  See, if you want a square that's 2.25" X 2.25" but you want to make it with a half square triangle...there's a bit of geometry involved and tragically I was a failure at geometry.  So, I had to re-cut all my squares to get everything just right.

One of my favorite things about this quilt is...I'm using old sheets to make up the bulk of it.  The fabric above was an old sheet and I am using it in all my half square triangles.  One half of the square is this and the other half is pink or red.  It is so soft and pretty.

The white fabric on the outside of the heart is also an old sheet.  The Mister thinks I'm a bit of a hoarder because I keep old sheets to use later...but see, I'm not a hoarder because I am actually using them.  Hurray for not being a hoarder!

Well, I'll keep you updated on the progress.

Thanks for reading!

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