Thursday, October 28, 2010

A little magic...

Sometimes quilts can be magical, can't they?  This confection is a Christmas gift for a little girl who is having some trouble sleeping, so the magic of this quilt will be to keep the nightmares away.  I know it would keep mine away if it were on my bed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Studio Sale Loot

So, in September my favorite fabric designer held her second (hopefully annual) studio sale.  When I found out that Heather Ross was doing this, I basically begged my husband to let me pretty pretty please buy something.  Fortunately for me, my husband finds me irritating enough when I get like this to just give me my way!  So, I was SO EXCITED when this package finally arrived in the mail on Saturday afternoon.

The thing about Heather's studio sale is that you don't really know what you're going to get.  You set a spending limit and she puts together a little package of awesomeness filled with things she thinks you'll like.  Imagine how excited I was to see two prints from her current line with Spoonflower that I'm refusing to buy because of the cost!  Yay!  I am absolutely loving the little clothespin dolls.

Also included were prints that are long out of print.  The mermaids and seahorses are from her last line with Westminster called Mendocino.  I love this line.  I have no idea what line(s) the green polka-dot and the yellow floral are from, but I'm sure glad to add them to my stash.  If anyone knows anything about those two fabrics, please let me know in the comments.  I'm very curious. 

In addition to the fabric Heather chose for me, she included the tiny little gems pictured above.  I adore those toadstool felt appliqued patches.  And that crocheted lobster?  So sweet!  Also included were three crocheted flowers and stems, but my picture of those turned out blurry and I'm too lazy to go take another one.  Drat.

Nate said it was weird to frame this particular item, but it's a signed print.  Personalized.  And it looks lovely in it's spot above my sewing workstation.  In case all of you think it's weird, too, I want to reassure you that I only spent $9.00 on this poster frame.  So, it's not like I went to Michael's and had it custom framed.  Yet.

I have some exciting projects on the horizon including a couple of quilts.  I can't wait to share my progress in the next few days.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ornament Tutorial

Today I realized, with the help of my boss, that Monday is the 2-month-to-Christmas mark and I have so many things I want to accomplish before then.  One of the biggest things I want to do is create some Peter-friendly tree decorations so we can have a festive season with (relatively) few worries.  I had an idea to make some simple ornaments from some of my fabric scraps and a bit of ribbon and I am so happy with the finished look that I decided to share the super-simple step-by-step directions with you!  I hope you have fun making a few of these cute and fun ornaments.

To make these, you'll need some fabric scraps at least 4x4 inches big.  You'll also need some stuffing, ribbon, pinking shears and coordinating thread.

To begin, trace a circle onto your fabric.  For my circle, I used a coffee cup to trace with a disappearing ink made for sewing, but pencil and any circular item will do.  It's easiest to trace on to one side of a stack of fabrics and cut several layers out at a time using a sharp scissors.  Save the pinking shears for later.

Next, cut a length of ribbon and fold it in half.  Pin it between two circles with the wrong sides of the fabric together.

Make sure you have enough ribbon in between the layers that you can comfortably sew with a 1/4 inch seam.

I use a pin here so that I can be sure my ribbon won't shift while I'm sewing.

Sew with an approximate 1/4 inch seam allowance around the perimeter of the circle, leaving a 1 1/2 - 2 inch opening, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam.  Make sure to catch your ribbon ends in this seam.

After adding enough stuffing to give your ornament a nice, plushy look, pin the opening closed and sew it shut making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam again.

This is what your ornament should look like at this point.  I told you it was super duper easy.

To finish, just use your pinking shears to trim your seam allowance.  This makes your raw edge less likely to fray and it gives the finished ornament a nice, decorative look.  When you get to where your ribbon is sewn in, separate the layers and pink one side at a time so you don't cut through the ribbon.

These little guys take about 10 minutes each to put together and they are so cute!  I can't wait to see them on our tree, but they would also look perfect tied to the top of a present.  I hope you guys have fun making these.  If anyone does, email me pictures of your work at and I'll post them here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Coming Soon...

It's hard to believe I'm already preparing for the holidays, but I've been working on some projects for the house that I want to have done in time to decorate for Christmas.  One such thing is an ornament idea I had that's very cute and safe for grabby hands.

I'm putting together a tutorial in case anyone else wants to make something similar for their own Christmas trees or for gifts for friends and family.  See you back soon with all the details.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finished Pillow

Hello, everyone!  I know I've been MIA, but there has been a lot going on in my professional life that has been occupying my time.  It has resulted in a promotion and a raise, so I'm very pleased about that and hopefully now things have settled enough for me to get back to some seriously fun sewing.

I've recently finished the second pillow in a series of four and I love how it has turned out.  The fabrics used are a quilting-weight cotton from Joann's for the print, Kona Black for the solid, and a very satiny gold which I love the look of, but don't particularly like sewing with.  It's very slippery.  The embroidery was done with Pearle cotton.  Again, very pretty but a little different than embroidery floss.

The top is quilted with straight lines--my favorite kind of quilting.  My customer wanted a burgundy thread to match the print.  I think it looks lovely with the gold.

The back is done with the gold with four buttons for the closure.  This particular fabric is much easier to work with on larger areas, so the back came together a little more easily than the front.

I use a disappearing ink to mark button placement.  You can still see it in this photo, but it's all gone now.

All in all, I think that the overall look of the pillow is very successful.  I truly hope that the recipient loves it and is proud do display it in her home.

And now for something completely different.

Peter is going as Ralphie from A Christmas Story for Halloween.  He's pretty excited about it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


It's been a quiet sewing and crafting week this week.  Lots going on at work and my folks are visiting from out of town, but I've got some exciting projects to do, including the second in a series of four pillows.  Thanks for sticking with me!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chilly Day Chili

So, when I started this blog, I didn't think I would use it as a platform to post recipes.  I don't make many up myself and, lets face it, Food Network is awesome.  However, I have a killer chili recipe that will warm you up all winter long and it seems a crime not to share it with you.


1 lb. Ground Beef
5-6 Strips Bacon
1 med. Onion, diced
1 med. Bell Pepper, diced
2 cloves Garlic, finely diced
1 small can Tomato Paste
1 14 oz. can Diced Tomatoes
2 tbsp. Honey
1 tbsp. Chili Powder
1 tbsp. Cumin
1/2 tbsp. Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
and my super secret ingredient:
1 12 oz. bottle of Beer.

Shredded Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream to garnish

Fry bacon in a frying pan.  Once bacon is crisp, set it aside.  DO NOT THROW IT OUT.  Put 2 tbsp of your rendered bacon fat in a dutch oven and sauté the onion, garlic, and pepper until soft and/or translucent.  In the same pan you used for your bacon, brown your ground beef.  Once the beef is cooked through and the veggies are soft, combine in the dutch oven.  Add tomato paste and stir so that everything is evenly combined.  Next, add the beer.  (As an aside, here, I recommend using your favorite beer UNLESS your favorite beer is something fruity.  I DO NOT recommend Blue Moon, or any berry beer for this chili.  I do recommend them for drinking, though.)  Bring the beer to a boil, then simmer until reduced by about 1/3.  This takes about 5-10 minutes.  Now you're going to add your diced tomatoes, juice and all, your honey, and all of your seasonings.  Stir to combine and let this simmer 10-15 minutes (or longer) to let all of your flavors merry.  Trust me, the longer you let this simmer, the better your chili will be.  You remember that bacon you rendered?  Crumble it up.  Serve up your chili in a nice, big bowl.  Top it with your shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and a bit of crumbled bacon and enjoy.  (Another aside.  You'll notice there are not many spicy ingredients.  This is because I have a toddler.  Please feel free to add hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or a jalapeño or two at the appropriate time.)

So, now that I've shared my favorite recipe, what do you guys think?  Do you want more recipes?  Do you never ever want to see a recipe again?  What about recipe reviews?  Let me know in the comments.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rainy Day Quilt

I finished Rebecca's quilt!  Hooray!

Have I mentioned how in love I am with the color palate?  Dusty lavenders, smoky grays, chilly slates...  When Rebecca asked me to make this quilt for her, I asked if she had any color preferences and she said, "no neon and no yellow-ish green".  That pretty much left the field wide open and one morning I woke up and it was that kind of first cold of autumn.  I did not want to get out of bed and then it occurred to me that that was the perfect inspiration.  

I remember Rebecca mentioning that she likes rainy days, so I deliberately arranged the blocks to invoke a rain cloud or a shadow on a foggy morning.  I couldn't be happier with the composition.

The main solid on the front and the backing is Kona Ash (probably my favorite Kona solid of all time.  For now.)  Included in the quilt are two fabrics from the Peacock collection by Allison Jane Smith, Heather Ross's moons in the plum colorway from Far Far Away II, one of the Good Folks cottons called Filigree from Anna Maria Horner, a shot cotton solid in blueberry, Kona Slate, and Stripe Lilac from McKenzie

The binding is called Tealight from the Paradise Collection by Patricia Bravo.  I just did some straight line quilting and I washed the quilt after it was all quilted and bound so it would get all wonderful and crinkley.  I'm mailing it off to Rebecca and I hope she likes it.  I certainly do!