Sunday, March 23, 2014

Welcome Spring!!!!!

Hey Fellow crafters!

Been super busy wrapping up the bathroom remodel.  I just have the shower to finish.  Getting the contractor out to measure has been a bit of a challenge, but otherwise, the bathroom has turned out really well.  I feel like my guests will imagine they are on vacation while staying in our guestroom and using this fresh, new bathroom.  I know it is rather small, but I think it turned out really well.  I love the warm greens and beige in the tile...i know this goes against my conventionally bright colors, but I wanted a couple of serene rooms in the house.  And, this is definitely one of those relaxing type rooms. For amateurs, I feel like dad and I did a great tile job and I chose the right fixtures, tile, and vanity to bring the room together.  Check it out....

I have been enjoying making the aprons.  Not only do they eat up a lot of fabric, they are cute and are giving me a chance to practice following sewing instructions and practice sewing curves.  One of the gals at work saw some of my posts of aprons online and requested that I make one of my aprons for a little girl....her little granddaughter.  This was intriguing because I wanted to practice more with making clothes, and this is a great way to make small people clothes really quick.  I whipped together this cute apron pattern I purchased off the Sew Sweet Patterns website.  Thankfully, she posted the adorable little girl, proudly wearing her apron on Facebook!  Adorbs!  I love that she was so worried about making it dirty....

Of course, after I was tagged in that photo, a few more of the ladies at work approached me to make child aprons for their little ones in their lives.  Below are photos of those cute little ones plus some other aprons in action that I have made over the past year.  And to make it more fun, many of them wanted matching adult/child aprons.  This has been wonderful to eat up the fabric stash as well as be creative with pairing some fabrics with some of mom's.  It is fun making them and I plan on making a few more soon....I have many little ones in my life that need a cute apron to wear...especially when they're helping Auntie Carrie in the kitchen!

Speaking of which, I have really been enjoying some pastry assignments as of late. I have been busy making cheesecakes, poached pear tarts, cupcakes, cookies....basically been getting back to my roots as a pastry person.  All have been met with smiles and appreciation as I have made assorted desserts for a wedding, a baseball league auction, an engagement party, a shower, and the firehouse.  I conducted a very scientific experiment with the fire guys to find the best chocolate cake recipe...all prep for a wedding cake I have later this summer....I think I found it too!  Delicious and moist.....yummy.  Below are some picts of the recent goods.

I am busy getting ready for the slew of babies that are coming this spring/summer....lots of quilts and dresses to make.  I am so grateful to all those folks out there that purchase my homemade goods and give them to loved ones.  Thanks and keep requesting.  I love keeping busy.

Off to sew...and make more jam!
Happy Crafting!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Finally made some clothes!

Hey Gang!

I finally got the gumption to try making some clothing.  I thought I would start with baby clothes because they're small and take a whole lot less fabric to make in case I screw up.  I texted a good friend that made our mutual friend a baby dress that was absolutely adorable.  I wanted to know where to find the pattern.  She kindly texted me the website: Sew Sweet Patterns.  Very easy directions, simple to follow, and lots of sizes represented.....REALLY CUTE patterns.  This is the website for me as they are all easy patterns.  I immediately purchased four patterns and downloaded the instructions.  The next day, I was cutting material and sewing the dress I chose together.  It took only four hours to make the Harper Dress.  I think it turned out really cute and not too bad for a first try!

Harper Dress with Lemon Fabric
Not too bad, eh?  I think I might make a couple more of those!

Feeling confident, I tried another pattern from Sew Sweet Patterns: The Katelyn Romper.  This is the first time I made anything with pants, so I admit I was a bit intimidated.  However, I am really happy with the results.

Katelyn Romper using the English Swings line of fabric
When I posted this article on Facebook, one of my friends suggested that snaps along the pant legs would be easier for diaper changes.  I I asked hubby if he could help me modify the pattern to include these helpful snaps for busy moms. So, next time I make this, I will attempt the snaps.

Since I had a bit of time today, I used it to make a new quilt top.  This pattern I found inside the Modern Quilt Workshop book:

I was truly inspired by the cover design: The Zipper Quilt.  I loved the pretty mix of blues and greens.  Plus, it uses a lot of scrap pieces in my stash!  Here is the quilt top:

Zipper Quilt: Inspiration for a friend's new baby
Not too bad for halfway through February!  I am really proud that I have been sticking to my goals for the year.  I can't wait to start more clothes and reducing the massive scrap load that I have been accumulating.  I am really lucky as one of my trainees at work is creating forms for my quilts, jams, and cakes for me to make ordering easier....and hubby even suggested that it might be time we start tracking my inventory and building me a website!  Nice!  Progress!

Until next time.....Happy Crafting!!!!!

Friday, January 31, 2014

A little bit of food coloring goes a long way....

PI usually post on here about my sewing projects, but this event was so funny that I needed to post it so that you can laugh along with me over this mishap.

I have been toying with the idea of canning some curd to add to the jam repertoire.  I love the taste of citrus curd in my desserts and the "brit" in me loves it on toast.  I made a batch of lemon curd for a wedding I did recently and had a bunch leftover.  So, in my scientific nature, I decided to bring the batch to work and have folks taste it, and then make a new batch, can it, and open it some time later for my guinea pigs to taste again to see if it held up in quality after being canned.  It was met with rave reviews from the folks at work.  Many of them had never tasted lemon curd before, so it was such a joy watching their eyes widen and then grab additional spoons to eat out of the container.  I only had one tough critic that felt it was too sour and sweet, but everyone else really appreciated the bright, fresh taste.

Luckily, one of the ladies at work loved the taste of curd so much that she bought two jars of it from me already.  I explained the conundrum and asked her to report back on the curd quality from the jar.  I also had a few other volunteers to participate.  It is always nice to have folks around who love to try new things!

Well, today I found myself with time to experiment, so I headed off to find lemons to make curd to can.  I bought a large bag of lemons and two dozen eggs.  I got a wild hair on the way to the store and decided to try lime curd too.  I wasn't sure how many limes I needed, as they are a bit smaller than lemons, so I bought a big bag for experimenting.  I had made lime curd before in school, but it had been a while and I couldn't find the recipe we used.  So, I just decided to use the same recipe I used for the lemon, but substituting lime and increasing the number to get the proper amount of juice.  So I cooked away at my stove, starting first with the lemons, as I was certain about that recipe.  I was able to make 7 jars out of the first batch....NICE!  The second batch yielded 6 jars and a 7th that was 3/4 full.  Not bad.  I need the curd for tomorrow's dessert project, so I will use the one that didn't quite fill to the top.  Excellent!  Now I did the lime curd.  I got to the end and tasted.....AMAZING!!!!  It was so fresh and bright!  But there was just one problem.  It was the same color as the lemon curd.  I paused for a brief moment thinking how awful it would be if it stayed yellow, and not a shade of green.  But, then I thought I could just add a little food coloring to make it a light lime green shade.  No problem!

I need to remember.....a little bit of food coloring goes a long way.....

I sat and chuckled to myself for about ten minutes at the obnoxious green curd sitting on my counter.  I was half kicking myself and half laughing on how I was going to fix this.  I had run out of eggs and butter, so another batch to dilute this batch was out of the question.  Tossing it would be sinful, as it tastes too good for just throwing away.

I normally save my experimenting for pawning off stuff onto others.  I have to say that I was lucky I wasn't making it for an event today!  Oh well....

So, I leave it to you, my family and friends.  Calling all "lime aficionados!"  I double dog dare you to try the green curd.  Let me know if you are brave enough to try it!

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Scrappy Doo!

Hey Craft Buddies!

Its been a busy much so that I am surprised it is almost over.  I have been patiently awaiting the arrival of the rest of my bathroom tile, so I quilted most of the month instead.  One of my goals of 2014 is to start making scrap quilts.  Not only are they really fun, the scrap pile is starting to take over my life a little bit, so I am really needing to reduce the load.  So I am busily digging through bags of scraps to match and contrast fabrics.  It has been really rewarding to clear off the craft table, and actually see the desk top from the depleating scrap pile that has been accumulating there.

Below is one of my first scrap reduction quilt attempts:

3 inch squares arranged in "plus" signs

Up close and personal with the quilting
I loved how simple it was and it used lots of scraps.  The neat thing was that I didn't need to have 5 squares of the same fabric.  If I only had one or two squares, they could be used as fillers around the edges.  I am definitely going to remember this pattern the next time I end up with a bunch of scraps.

I also used this pattern called "Supernova" found on the Freshly Pieced blog.  This quilt was great to assemble for two reasons.  It was a great way to utilize all those leftover fruit fabric pieces that I get from making aprons.  And, I was able to contrast the fruit fabric with coordinating and contrasting solid and print colors to really bring a bright punch to each block.  I would be interested to try this again using a neutral colored background instead of my traditional white linen.  I still have lots of scraps, so maybe I will try it again against a grey or wheat colored background.

I love how bright and cheery the colors are together

I am starting to gain a little more confidence in my sewing.  In addition to my quilt gift list, I am planning to make a pillowcase dress for a little niece to be!  My sis-in-law picked the most inspiring color pallette for her pending baby girl: Navy blue, bright pink, and grey.  I am so excited to experiment with this combination.  I am planning on the dress, a crib skirt, bumpers, pillows and curtains.  Yay!  Not to mention the one (maybe two ;) ) quilts I am making for her.  This kid will be equipped!  Whoa...its already February!!!!!  I had better get moving.....

Happy Crafting!

Btw....check out Molly on her new quilt that I made her!!!  I especially love that her pants match the quilt!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

First Quilts of 2014

Well, I had to put the bathroom remodel on hold.  I wished my ordering timing for all the hardware for the bathroom was a little better so that I could've used my time more wisely this holiday for finishing the bathroom.  But, I took advantage of this gift of time and I not only tore apart my bathroom and painted it, but I reorganized the craft room with some new Ikea furniture and accessories and managed to label everything.  When I reassembled the room, it all fit, and I found myself with some additional space!  It is amazing what happens when you have the right tools for the job.  I love working at the desk I chose, as it doesn't rock when the sewing machine is running.  Now, the goal: to keep it looking like this!

My new desk and shelves from Ikea

Check out all the labels on the very "Sheldon" of me
This desk will certainly help enhance the creativity and has the potential of keeping me organized.  Here's to hoping.

Well, as I mentioned, I used my time wisely.  I made a project "to do" list of all the pending projects I need to complete in the next few months and started working towards crossing stuff off.  Most involved baby quilts for folks that I asked to make them for.  I got some interesting requests.  But my main goal is to reduce the fabric stash that I have (that keeps getting larger and larger all the time), and to resist buying new fabric.  One of my new years' goals is to empty some of the fabric bins that I have in the guest room.  That way I can go buy some new fabric to fill them!  HAHAHAHA!!!!

So, this first quilt is for a college friend that is having her first baby.  I was told shades of blue and that they are into sci-fi, but as I don't have any sci-fi fabric, I thought this modern design would suit her well.  I worked in some aqua, turquoise, and navy blue so the quilt will blend into any shade of blue bedroom.  Acutally, I have used this design before that I obtained from Elizabeth Hartman's sight, "Oh Fransson!"  and was pleased with the outcome, so I decided to try it again.

Wavy Blues

This next quilt is a design I was trying out of the book Modern Basics II by Amy Ellis.  The "stepping stones" design caught my eye, but I didn't do myself do diligence and read the directions properly.

Stepping Stones

I just plowed ahead and started making blocks instead of reading the entire instructions to ensure I had enough fabric to complete the quilt.  So I was running out of fabric as I was making the blocks, so I just substituted other fabrics to supplement the blocks.  The end product doesn't look as balanced as the one from the book, but I am happy with the outcome nonetheless.  This was a great use of a lot of green fabric I had lying around for another quilt project that I wasn't happy with, and I was able to use some of my favorite greens in my stash.  I am taking it as a learning experience to READ THE DIRECTIONS FIRST!  I ended up with enough blocks for at least three quilts, which is good because I have a lot of little boys that need quilts!
See how the mix of fabrics in each blocks works even though it doesn't "pop" like the one in the book?

Aren't those Robert Kaufman turtles adorable?  I have been waiting to use them in a quilt!

Back of the quilt
Last of all, I needed a couple of little girl quilts.  I do so much better when I can use bright colors than muted pastels, so I hope these mommies aren't too turned off by the bright colors.  I also am not always apt to use just pink and purple for girls, as I am not always apt to use blue for boys.  So I had to throw in some yellow and green just for funzies!  I made two of these: one for a family member and one for a friend from culinary school.

No pattern here...Just a dresden ruler and a whole bunch of fabric!

The quilting is improving!

A glimpse of the back
Not too bad for a quilting blitz this weekend, eh??  And, I managed to piece a couple more during this 2 week holiday, so I am well on my way to crossing items off the "to do" list.  One of my other craft goals is to work on scrappy quilts, as my scrap pile is getting a little out of control.  Maybe some of the "to do" quilts can be scrap built.  I will work on it.

Back to work tomorrow.  The crafting will slow a little, but I hope to work on my projects at least a couple days per week.  Let me know if you want to come over and sew with me!

Happy crafting!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Wow! It's the end of 2013!

Hey gang!

Don't let my silence the past few months fool you.  I have been extremely busy crafting the past months of 2013....I just could not find the time to take pics and post them.  Well, that and a two month jaunt around the world.  I made several baby quilts for friends, a quilt for a breast cancer walk, lots of wine bags, lens bags, a pillowcase, and about a zillion vintage aprons (okay, maybe just 20 or so...) Which brings me to one of my new year's resolutions.....To remember to take time to take photos of my work and post information about the projects.  The more I learn in my kitchen and my craft room, the more I take my skills for granted.  I never felt that doing crafts was any big deal.  It was just something I always did....whether it was stitching, drawing, sewing, calligraphy, scrapbooking, cooking, whatever...I just always need to keep busy with something.  I am often surprised at the number of folks that I know that have never learned to sew, craft, cook, work a glue gun, etc...and I guess I shouldn't be.  My mom was an extraordinary woman that found solace in her crafts and loved to teach me how to do all of it.  Hindsight is 20/20, as I wish I had spent more time with her to learn more sewing skills, but I feel like even now she guides me through my projects as I try to learn from patterns and directions.  Reading and comprehending directions was never one of my best skills.  This really worked for me in the end most of the time as I learned more by doing than by reading anyways, but I always wished I had more patience like she did when it came to deciphering instructions.

But, I have amazed myself with the number of projects I have completed this year.  One of my many flaws is that I have a hard time completing projects.  However, since I started jamming a couple of years ago and quilting, I am pleased at the number of completed projects, especially this year.  I am especially proud that I tackled a few very difficult patterns as well as attempted some applique skills.    I taught myself how to make ruffles on my aprons and follow a halter top pattern as well as take several patterns and make my own out of ideas from many patterns.  Yay me!

Another 2014 goal is to share some of my skills with folks out there.  A few friends from work have asked for sewing lessons, so I am planning on opening up the house and teaching pillowcases...then aprons.  Also, I plan on resuming setting up the "foodie club" at work so that I can have a forum to share some cooking skills with the folks that are interested at work.  I have even been asked to be a personal chef.  What a compliment!

Finally, in 2014 I am going to attempt making clothes.  The most complicated clothing item I have ever made is a pair of boxers, though I would argue that the tiered ruffles on the apron was a little challenging.  I have a couple dress patterns that I am going to attempt.  Wish me luck!

Well, as I have no pics to share, I will close out 2013 with this:  Thank you for believing in me, even though I have trouble believing in myself.  Thank you for supporting my crafting habit by taking my jam off the counter, wearing my aprons, and giving my quilts to folks.  And most important, thank you Ryan for building me my craft room and being supportive of my many habits.  I know the clutter is annoying, but you are a good sport.

Happy Crafting!  Come on by and craft with me!  Have a safe and happy new year.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Pinwheel, pinwheel, spinning around....

OMG...I have spring fever!  I have been teased these past few weeks of sunny 60/70 degree weather in northern I am sporting the capris, flip flops, tank tops and tees, and spring colors of teal, orange, yellow, royal blue and green....then it turned cold again.  Ugh. My back started aching something fierce and its been raining on and off...and I have walked out to a frozen car on my way to work three days this week.  I've begrudgingly put the closed toed shoes back on, long sleeves, and the jeans.  Ugh.  Oh well.  I guess Phil was a little optimistic in his early spring projection.

I've been super busy crafting these past two months of 2013.  I was asked to make a quilt for a little boy, but with little guidance, so I made three options for the requester to choose from.  I have yet to quilt them because my new craft room doesn't allow for quilting ease since the table is up against the wall.  But I have plans this weekend to relocate to the front room to do some serious quilting.  I received a free pattern in the mail from one of my many quilting magazines that really spoke to me.  I didn't like the colors they used in their quilt, but I really enjoyed choosing my own fabrics for the pattern.  I chose some bold red, yellow, lime green and navy fabrics for this cute modified pinwheel quilt.  Dad's friend Debi asked for the quilt and loved it, so I am happy to sell her this quilt.

I couldn't stop at one pinwheel though.  I really like making pinwheel crafts.  There is something whimsical and happy about them.  I think they remind me of sitting in the yard with the family as a kid and being fascinated as they spin and the colors they produce.  Hours of entertainment for me!  A few months ago, I ordered the Modern Quilt blocks book and fell in love with over half the blocks in there.  Since I committed to doing the rainbow of quilts, I decided to honor my commitment to finish all those quilts, but I kept flipping through this book with longing.

In particular I really liked this one block called Pinwheel.  Its actually a very simple pattern with very little in the way of putting it together, but I really liked its simplicity.  So I decided to make my version simple as well.  I'm not good at copying a quilt design verbatim, but I love taking great ideas and tweaking them to make them my own.  I love the "denim" color background and the cute pinwheel fabric I ordered a while back.  I just put together the top...and I am hoping to quilt it this weekend.  I was asked to donate some quilts to auctions for some elementary schools and for a dance club so I am hoping one of those groups like this quilt...because I really like it!

Fun with Pinwheels!

One day, I just didn't feel like quilting very much, but I had been wanting to try to alter Jeni's lined drawstring bag pattern to hold a wine bottle.  I was asked to make some wine bags, so I spent an afternoon experimenting with measurements, I nailed it....thanks Jeni!  I love your bags!

New Wine bags!  Love these....

Also, I have been interested in starting to make clothing.  But, I am a little intimidated especially since mom isn't around to ask questions like I was used to doing for so many years.  So I decided to start small.....Aprons!  I downloaded about five apron patterns and found a couple I liked in my sewing books, so I tried a few.  I love how they came out...big thanks to the bloggers out there with really easy to understand directions!  I hope the people that I made these for like them.   The best part about aprons...they use a lot of fabric and don't take a long time to quick results and a stash eater!  Woo Hoo!!!

Susie's Vintage half apron

I decided that after I honor my few sewing commitments I have made, I am going to spend some time quilting what I want to quilt for a little while.  I haven't lost the passion, but I really want to love the projects I work on for a little while.  This is not to say that I won't make items for other people, but I am really going to actively try to use the fabric I want to use, try new patterns that look interesting, and not worry so much about reducing the stash as much.  After all, I am doing this whole thing for me, right?  I should really love what I make.  I got to get to the sewing machine.

Happy Crafting!!!