Thursday

Box Bag - Peppa Pig Tote

Peppa Pig Tote
I used this box bag tutorial to make a cute little Peppa Pig bag. The instructions were easy to follow however I did change how the lining is attached.

The instructions state to hand-sew the lining near the zipper but I chose to leave an opening between the contrasting fabrics and hand-stitch that opening.

I will make another bag like this and remember to take photos of how I did the lining for a clearer description.
Peppa Pig Tote

Tuesday

City Sampler 100 Quilt WIP

I'm making progress on my City Sampler quilt top. I still need to add the borders to the sides but all-in-all, there's not much left to do to finish the top.

I had mapped the placement of all the blocks in a notebook just to make sure I had them all. As it turned out there were 101 blocks. As I tried to located the double, I discovered that I had 2 doubles. That meant I missed making one of the blocks so I checked off each one and found the missing block. I had to go back and make that last block. I really needed to accomplish all 100. So now I have 102 blocks in this quilt top. And that's ok, I just added the extra 2 right in.

I placed the blocks in uneven rows in order to get the look of a city skyline. I like the look of the intermingled colors of the blocks better than separating them out by colorway. It took a little while to sew up the rows, ensuring all the blocks line up nicely.

Now I just have to buy some backing fabric and I will be ready to quilt.

Thursday

What's on the design board?

I won this cute little Frivols kit last year at a quilt show. I've decided to finally start making the quilt top. All I need to add is some background fabric and I will be all set to go!

The fabrics in the kit are very pretty and I look forward to getting started. So this covers my monthly 'What's on the design board?' post. So the answer to that question is nothing.

Nothing.

My sewing room sure looks neat and clean.

That seems weird to me, but it is getting near summer and gardening has taken a priority over sewing. And Mother Nature waits for no one. So the garden is in and the little seeds are popping up all over. The warm weather has sure made things grow quickly and I am thrilled. This year I am adding pickles to my garden because my girlfriend gave me a crock. I look forward to making pickles in the fall and will have to post my results here.


Tuesday

Antique Quilt WIP

I am working on a really interesting client project. This is a quilt that was started by my client's husband's grandmother. Unfortunately, she passed away before finishing it. When I received the package containing the quilt, I was amazed at the work. The basket blocks were nicely done and the setting squared were all cut. The odd thing was that the setting triangles were sewn to the border.

The first thing I had to do was take the setting triangles apart then unsew the border pieces. After that, I laid out all the quilt blocks and determined where each basket block will go. I sewed the entire top together then put the border back together. I was amazed how nicely all the pieces went together. Especially after all that unsewing.

The fabrics for this quilt consist of blocks that look like they were made from men's shirts. The fabrics are both faded, stained and discoloration has occurred. The setting square fabric has worn thin. I was happy that the pieces went together so well because if I had to stretch the setting square fabric even a little, I am sure I would have torn it since it is in such delicate condition.

I would love to know the history of the shirts in this quilt. I imagine that they have some sentimental value. Now I am ready to pick out some backing and binding fabrics to finish this quilt.

Wonky Sashing Quilt WIP

I used up some Quilts for Kids donated fabric to make the sashing around these cute animal print blocks. I love the wonkiness of the blocks, it really makes the cute animal print even cuter. I found the tutorial for this quilt here. All I have to do is pick out some backing fabric and I will be ready to quilt this little gem.

Thursday

Quilting Project on the Machine

Free-Motion Quilting
I finished another client project today. I started quilting it yesterday while my granddaughters were here. I was worried that they would need lots of attention because they usually do right after school. I fed them their supper and that seemed to settle them down so it turned out to be pretty easy to do.

Avery hung out with her grandpa and Chloe sat at my computer desk next to my sewing table and played one of her online games. We chatted while I did some free-motion quilting. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

This morning I thought I would finish it to both get it off my machine and my to-do list. I am happy I can give it back to its owner this week!

Wednesday

Client Project - An Antique Quilt

Today I worked on an interesting project. It's a very, very old quilt. I received it in a box that has definitely aged. Inside the box, there were finished basket blocks made from men's shirts. The setting squares were made from a pink calico floral fabric. They were stacked nicely in the box. The box also included a pink calico floral border with half-squares attached to the borders. Yes, the borders were finished before the blocks were sewn together.

The first thing I did was get out my seam ripper and take the border/half-square triangles apart and stacked them up. Then, I rearranged the blocks with the help of a quilting friend. Sue and I arranged and re-arranged the basket blocks until we had a reasonable layout. I quickly snapped a photo of the arrangement before I started sewing the blocks together.

I ironed each block out carefully. After all the fabrics were pretty delicate due to their aging. I mean the yellowing, aged fabrics and the thinner spots in the floral print were signs of how old this quilt is. I then squared up the blocks before sewing them together. Some had to be stretched a little because the piecing was a little off. I got the whole thing sewn together the worked on adding the borders. Much to my dismay, they were too short to complete the quilt top. That was disappointing. It also explained why the pieces were in the box; I bet the sewist knew there was an issue.

So now I have to think a little about how to resolve this issue. The client really wants this heirloom completed. It has so much sentimental value. Now that the top is sewn together, I will have to give them a quote on the backing, batting, quilting and binding.

Sunday

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day and I had a wonderful day filled with family and love. I really felt like a queen. Spending time with my mother, sister, daughter, granddaughters, husband and son made the day perfect.

My husband made me a wonderful breakfast. My son brought be the beautiful flowers. And my daughter and granddaughters spent the afternoon with me while visiting my mother and sister.

My sister made this amazing cheesecake and I added some fresh strawberries and whipped cream to it. There are none better than her cheesecakes.

Tuesday

Quilting Project on the Machine

This is my second client project this month. I'll finish the quilting on this today and then I have a little project to complete for a client in Illinois. After that I have another quilting project to complete by next week.

I have a very large quilt project coming up where I'll take antique quilt blocks and piece them together with setting squares and add a border. Then I'll have to quilt it and add the binding. After that, I have another quilt to complete.

My client projects are keeping me pretty busy and I am really enjoying the variety in them. I love sewing!

Monday

Quilting Project on the Machine

I have a quilting project on the machine today. I promised that I would get two baby quilts quilted by Saturday.

I purchased the batting today and did my best to get them pinned and ready. I've got half of the quilting completed on one of them already and I am happy with my progress so far.

Friday

City Sampler 100 Layout Plans

The Tula Pink's City Sampler 100 quilt blocks need to be sorted. I have to decide how to lay out each of the blocks. I am certain I don't want to just go from block #1 to #100. I am not certain exactly what to do. I'm thinking about an arrangement where like colors are all together. Maybe with 10 rows of 10 blocks...or maybe not.

I will try an arrangement where all the colors are intermingled to see how that looks but I have to say, moving around 100 blocks can be pretty exhausting! I think I will get some opinions from the family to see what they think.

I also might try to stack them up with more blocks in some rows and less in others so it looks like a city. Once I decide on a layout, it should be pretty easy to sew everything together, I just need to make that final decision. It sure was fun to make these blocks and some of them I will definitely make again.

Tuesday

My Small World Quilt Project

I completed the 16 2-inch pinwheels for the My Small World quilt project. I thought it would be difficult to sew such very small blocks but I pressed open the seams of the half-square triangles that make up the pinwheels and that really helped keep the bulk to a minimum.

It was great fun to choose the color combinations for the little pinwheel blocks. They are so much smaller than the 3 pinwheel blocks I made for this quilt earlier. Now I will start on some of the paper-pieced little blocks.

Every part of this quilt project is a bit of a challenge and I look forward to learning from each and every part of this process.

Monday

What's on the design board?

I have this one lonely block on my design board today. I've dug up the 182 day winter solstice project and completed the block for week #12. The block is called Buckeye Beauty.

Currently, my view on this project is that it's become the thing I work on when I am between projects. I think I like the blocks with the least amount of white in the backgrounds. I just might re-do some of the earlier blocks. I am pretty sure that will help turn my lack of interest into enthusiasm.

The My Small World project is still in the works and I am at the point where I have to do some hand applique. I look forward to honing my hand sewing skills.

Sunday

Happiness is . . .

Happiness is the view from my sewing room window. It's been raining since 4:00 yesterday afternoon and it is still an amazing view. Especially since spring is here and everything is turning green.

The trees are budding and seeing the fenced-in garden reminds me that I can start thinking about planting vegetables. I've already planned out where things will be planted and I've made a list of seeds and plants I need to purchase. It's still a bit early to actually do the planting but it's fun to think about it.

Even through the gloomy day, I love this view.

Saturday

My Small World Project

Yesterday I cleaned my sewing room. I love how nice it looks once all my fabrics are organized and put away. All the notions are stashed away and there's no more piles of batting and other stuff laying about. It's like starting with a clean slate. I even took all my city blocks off my design board. The room even feels brighter.

I thought I would take the opportunity to make a few more blocks for the my small world project. There are so many very small blocks in this quilt that I've decided to work on it a little at a time. The quilt has seven sections and I am still on section 1. I'm really not in a hurry to finish it, I want to enjoy the process and take my time. It sure is fun to mix new colors into the project.

This will definitely be a long-term project. I'm thinking maybe I can complete it by the end of summer. That feels like a reasonable goal. For now, I will work on the pinwheel blocks. I need to make 3 4-inch pinwheel blocks and 16 2-inch blocks.

Thursday

The 100th Block

I completed my version of block #46 for the City Sampler. This is the final block so I now have all 100 ready to go! It feels so good to accomplish this very unplanned project.

Sometimes just winging it can be a challenge that doesn't work out to well but in this case, I really like the results. I can't wait to pick out the background fabric and set the blocks in place

Wednesday

Block #46

I am finally at the finish line with my 100 city blocks project. I am proud to say that using the charm pack, layer cake and jelly roll that I won a few months back, I managed to get all the blocks made.

That is all except one. That one block number 46 where I need 8 3-and-a-half inch squares - 4 from one fabric and 4 from a second fabric. The problem is that I only have pieces left 2-and-a-half inches wide or smaller. I really did not plan this out very well.

Actually, I didn't plan it out at all. I just decided to wing it. So I think I did pretty well all things considered. But for this last block, block number 46 I was at a loss.

My daughter stopped by to see my progress. I really think she wants this quilt when it's done. I had to remove blocks 1 through 40 from my design board. There's just not enough room to hold all 100 blocks on the board. So I could show here blocks 41 through 100.

When I told her my dilemma with block number 46 she says, "why don't you just cut 2-and-a-half-inch squares since that's all you have then put a border around the whole thing"? That is just genius. I guess I never thought about deviating from the book. But I really think that would be better than purchasing two fat quarters just to complete this project. Especially since I have enough jelly roll sized pieces to make it work.

Tomorrow I will get that last block completed so I can get to work planning on my layout. I also have to choose my background fabric. I'm not sure what color it will be, I just know it will be a solid. It's always fun choosing fabrics and I really look forward to it. So here are my blocks starting with block number 41 through block number 100 minus block 46!

Sunday

Bird Houses WIP

I asked my husband to whip me up some birdhouses. I wanted 5 of them to place on top of the arbor that is the entrance to my garden. I was surprised how quickly he came up with these. My only request was that they were not all the exact same size to give them some interest and to make grouping them together much more appealing.

So I painted the birdhouses with some pretty colors. Now my granddaughters will want to embellish them with some cute designs on the paint. I was surprised how true to form the birdhouses were. They had no perches which helps keep predators out and the tall ones have false floors in them to make them more desirable to small birds. In fact the opening holes are cut just the right size for small birds.

I can't wait until they are installed over the garden gate. They will look so cute there!

Saturday

An Earth Day Tradition

We always get a real Christmas tree. We are lucky to know someone who owns their own Christmas tree farm and all we have to do is just ask for a tree. We tell them we want a Frasier Fir, preferably a skinny, shorter version. Like a Charlie Brown tree. Of course, it's never like that. The trees are always very beautiful and we are grateful that all the fuss of going out in the cold to personally pick out a tree is removed from the process. Some people enjoy that ritual but not me, I am really not fond of cold weather. So this works out perfectly.

For me, the hard part about having a real tree is letting go. It seems such a shame to cut this beautiful living thing down for something so (realistically) unnecessary. But there is something to be said for the amazing pine smell that permeates the house. So I keep the tree up for as long as is practical. And once we take it down we place it in my garden for the duration of the winter where it becomes a refuge for the birds. It's amazing to see how many little birds protect themselves among the branches during bad weather. It's a beautiful thing.

Once spring comes I have to get the tree out of the garden. So we have a bonfire to turn the tree into ash. The ash gets turned with the compost that goes back into the garden. It's a great way to complete the circle and use every bit of that tree. So another year goes by and we feel good about renewing nature's gift and giving it back to the earth.

Friday

More Cheese Making

For my second attempt at cheese making I used a recipe called Super Easy Basket Cheese for Children. I had a spare gallon of raw milk that I had to use very soon before it expired. I could have froze the milk but I really didn't want the stress of knowing I had to eventually use up the frozen milk. I just wanted to use it while it was still fresh. I also kept the whey from my first batch of cheese. Some articles I read about cheese making stated that adding the whey made better cheese. So for this batch I used a gallon of raw milk and a quart of whey.

My first cheese making experience made me much more confident for this time. I poured the milk and whey into the pot and turned on the heat. I also added a teaspoon of salt right off the bat. My first batch was not salty enough. I wanted to fix that. So as the milk cooked I prepared the bowl for the curds and got ready to scoop them out. I got the baskets cleaned and ready - no cheesecloth this time! I have the real cheese making equipment!

Once the milk reached 86 degrees I added the rennet, stirred and turned off the pot. I waited minutes to find perfect curds. I turned the pot back on while removing the curds from the whey. I filled the basket to the very top. I squeezed and squeezed until more whey came out. After a few hours, I removed the cheese from the basket and put it in the fridge.

By dinner time the cheese was ready and we had it as an appetizer before dinner. It was squeaky like cheese curds when biting into it. It was fantastic. Much better than the first batch. I can't wait to try another recipe - it sure is fun to make this wonderful food from scratch.



Wednesday

City Sampler WIP

I've decided to work on the city sampler blocks today and I completed another 12 blocks. These are coming along pretty quickly considering I've set the project aside for a few weeks. Between Easter and some other commitments, there hasn't been enough sewing time. Happily, I have every Wednesday as a dedicated sew day. My friend, Sue comes over and we sew together all day. It's great to have the extra incentive from seeing someone else's creativity. It sure inspires my own. So today was a good day to complete more of the 100 blocks. I now have 57 completed and another 10 blocks cut and ready to sew. I don't think it will be long to the finish line now.

Sunday

Mini Zipper Pouches

I whipped up a few more mini zipper pouches this week. I had cut them out a few weeks ago but never did any actual sewing. So I thought this was a good time to get them out of the unfinished object (UFO) pile and into the finished pile. That always feels good.

I made a few of these a while back and my granddaughters love using them for their little Shopkins and to hold their allowance. I think they might make a nice item at craft fairs.

Friday

Raw Milk Cheese

I've been dying to make some cheese ever since I took a cheese-making class a few years ago. I've always wanted to make raw milk cheese; it's said to be the best kind of cheese to make from scratch. The problem is that raw milk is not sold in my state and I just never took the time to go somewhere else and get it. But finally I acquired some raw milk this week. Since it isn't easy to come by around here I was very happy when I got 2 gallons of this wonderful stuff.

As for recipes to make cheese, I can't remember where I put the ones I got when I took the class. And I wasn't that ambitious to look through all the files of recipes I've acquired over the years so I thought I would surf the net to find a recipe. I remembered the basic steps in the cheese-making process so I knew what I was looking for.

I found the perfect recipe here. I had all the ingredients and equipment necessary to make the cheese so I got to work on it this afternoon. I even came across a book on cheese-making in my library but the recipes in it were way more complicated than what I learned in the class so I think I will save the book for a time when I have more experience at this.

I followed the recipe I found on the internet however, it says to add whey. I didn't have any because I haven't made any cheese as of yet. Since the whey was listed as optional, I just ignored it. I heated my milk with a low flame and waited for a while to check the temperature. As long as the outside of the kettle didn't feel warm, I figured I had time before testing it.

The thermometer got to 86 degrees and I turned the stove off. I added the 13 drops of rennet and stirred it in. This is where I was unsure what to do next. The kettle has to sit for 45-60 minutes while the curds form, but it's supposed to stay between 80 and 90 degrees while it sits. I was worried that it might cool down too quickly so I turned the oven on in order to keep the stove warmer. After checking the temperature of the milk 3 times in 2o minutes I realized I was worrying for nothing. The kettle is such a nice thickness that it was holding the heat in nicely.

It took over 60 minutes to get a clean break on the milk. The recipe I used had a link to the explanation of what a clean break is, but the link was broken. So I used this YouTube video to learn what a clean break is. I cut the curds into chunks then turned the stove back on to get the temperature back up to 100 degrees. Even at a low heat, it literally took less than 5 minutes to get up to 100.

I placed the curds into a bowl and added the salt. The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of salt which made me nervous. I used one and a half tablespoons of salt. It was not enough. Follow the recipe!

I ended up with a large bowl of whey. And once I strained the curds, there was more whey only this time it was full of salt. I ended up mixing the whey that had the salt in it with the whey that was plain. I'm not sure that's how it was supposed to be done...oh well.

I stuck the whey back into the milk jug and put it in the fridge. I will use it in my next batch of cheese. I took my ball of cheese and pressed it between two plates with a heavy LeCreuset pot on top to weigh it down.  I must say, this stuff does taste good. I can't wait to serve it on Easter Sunday and see what everyone else thinks.

Thursday

Sewing Tote

I took the pattern I used for my Star Wars Weekender Tote and took off 1-inch from each of the length and width of the bag. After making those adjustments, I thought I would make a sewing tote for myself. The weekender bag is pretty large and I thought that cutting it down would make a more manageable sized bag.

The new tote is still pretty large, but it's just perfect for taking along projects and sewing notions to sew days. I can now get everything in one bag. I used to have a separate tote for my sewing machine notions and accessories and another for unfinished projects. This is so much easier now that I can take everything in one.

I love the purse zipper that closes nicely to keep from having everything fall out. I am pretty clutzy so I like the idea of the nice closure to keep it all together.

I added an interior pocket to this tote and an exterior one as well. I took some of the coordinating fabrics and made a patchwork piece to make the pocket. This fabric is so cute that I plan on making some zipper pouches to match the tote.

I can't wait to take this bag to my next sew date.

Monday

Chevron Quilt Completed

Quilts for Scrap Lovers
I finished the binding on my chevron quilt this morning. I was hoping to finish it yesterday but I just wasn't in the mood to sit still. And hand-sewing binding requires a lot of sitting still.

I used a gray solid for the binding on this quilt. It complements all prints found in the chevrons very nicely.

This quilt is pretty big. It measures 60" x 72". I'm not so sure where this one will end up but I am pretty sure I can find a nice home for it.

Friday

Chevron Quilt WIP

I finished the chevron quilt top from the pattern found in the book Quilts for Scrap Lovers. It's been sitting on my pile of finished quilt tops for quite some time. I finally decided to get to the quilting part and surprisingly, it didn't take me very long to complete the quilting. Maybe tomorrow after church I will be able to get the binding on.
Quilts for Scrap Lovers

Wednesday

Bubble Guppies Beach Quilt Completed

I used the economy block from the book, Shape Workshop for Quilters to make this Bubble Guppies-themed quilt for my granddaughter, Avery. Because of its smaller size, I think it will make a nice quilt to take on picnics and to the beach. The blocks finish at 12" so the quilt measures 48" x 48".

I got the cute Bubble Guppies fabric earlier this year at a quilt show. I love picking up unique fabrics at the vendor markets at quilt shows. My granddaughter loves the Bubble Guppies cartoons. She watches them every morning while we wait for her older sister to head off to school so it has become part of our daily routine. So I just had to have this fabric when I saw it.

Tuesday

My Small World WIP

I've changed up my section 1 pieces of my small world quilt. I still might change up the text block above the city building. I'm just not sure about that one.

I'm also not sure about the barn block. I really like the reddish-brown piece but not so sure about the blue pieces. Up close the blue print fabric has some reddish-brown dots on it, so there is a bit of a match. Maybe after I make more of the blocks that go around that one, I might like it better.

These pieces are so fun to make, but very time consuming. Plus there's a giant mess with all the scraps. I'm thinking this quilt project might be a reason to get my scraps in some kind of order. I love the challenge.

Sunday

Soup Bowl Cozies

I used a free online pattern and instructions to make these soup bowl cozies. They were a quick and easy project and I had so much fun making them. Originally, I was going to make two that matched and before I knew it, I had made four. They were so easy I think I will make some more and give them as gifts this year.

Making these was a great way to use up my long strips of cotton batting left over from quilts. There always seems to be a strip of batting as long as a quilt but only 15 inches wide. It seems so wasteful to just toss it, so these soup bowl cozies fit those scraps perfectly.

What a great way to use up some of those cute food-themed fat quarters I've purchased here and there. The tutorial I used can be found here.

Saturday

What's on the design board?

I finished by first block for the My Small World quilt. There are things I like about this block. I like the black and gray sections of the block and I like the sky sections. I also like the yellow windows. I think the variety of yellows makes it interesting.

I don't like the two gray sections on the right side. I think the fabrics are too similar. And in one of the sections, the instructions were off so I adjusted some of the pieces which made the windows crooked. So I think I might take that section out and replace it with something else.

That is the fun of this artsy project. I don't have a problem making second tries to make it look better. I decided that this will probably be my summer project so I don't mind how long it takes. I really want to get it right.

Friday

Scraps, Scraps and More Scraps

I think my kitty hates when my sewing table is messy as much as I do. He just doesn't know where to lie down. Sometimes he just plops himself right in the middle of all the piles of scrap but he usually doesn't like to do that.

I know how he feels. Even though I absolutely must dig through scraps when I'm assembling a scrap quilt, I just do not like the aftermath. I have little piles of small pieces and other piles of fat quarters that I've cut into pieces. It's an absolute disaster area.

I must admit that it is fun to dig through the scraps though. Digging out colors to create something new is so enjoyable that I forget all about the mess I create. It's all part of the end result and I have to get over it. Maybe it will help give me some incentive to make more quilted scrap baskets to sort everything by color which will make it all so much easier to manage.

Wednesday

My Small World Quilt WIP

Alice by Angela PingelI have decided to stick to the color palette found in the Alice by Angela Pingel fabric collection. The colors are outside the box for me. I've never been a fan of blue fabrics, especially navy blue and it is a part of this fabric line.

The first instruction in the pattern book states to make 527 squares for sky so I started to cut those out. I had forgotten how messy my sewing studio gets when digging through scraps. I will have to get over that. I decided to put them in a jar to keep them neat since they will be used sporadically as I build each section of the quilt.

The first blocks in the book are hourglass blocks and each one of them goes in a different section of the quilt. I want these sections to all be differentiated from each other so that means that I will end up with two of each block. I think I will use the extras on the back, so I will set them aside. I hope I can give my version of this quilt a modern yet whimsical look. I'm not that fond of planning things way in advance so we shall see how this goes.