Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bee Vintage Blocks for November {Wonky Log Cabin}

This was actually a really hard block for me.  It seems I don't think in "wonky" very well. 
But, I got them finished and off to Nikki before Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Cookies

The first Saturday of December my friend Sarah hosted her annual cookie exchange. I love these, as I really am not a huge fan of making cookies. So the idea of making one kind and then coming home with 8-10 kinds really works for me. Sarah has everyone bring a dozen cookies for each person invited--already packaged up. We all go around and grab our selections, taking them home in a laundry basket or similar. And then she hosts a brunch for us all. It is so much fun.

This year I made one of my kids favs--the Santa Cookie.

We found this idea a number of years ago in the book Cookies! A Cookie Lover's Collection, pg. 204, and have tweaked it just a bit for more of our liking.

(photo courtesy of recipe book)

All you need is a basic round sugar cookie. I used our Mom's basic sugar cookie recipe below. But you could also just buy them--even easier. Try this recipe if you need a scrumptious thick sugar cookie.

  • Add some white frosting.
  • Red sugar sprinkles for the hat.
  • Mini chocolate chips for eyes.
  • 1/2 of a Mini marshmallow for the pom-pom on the hat.
  • Cinnamon red hot for the nose, or a little dab of red frosting.
  • Coconut (if you like it) for the beard. You could also use white sugar sprinkles.
There you have it.

Mom's Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

Cream together:
1 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. milk

4 c. flour (I usually add 2, mix, then add the other 2 c.)
Bake at 350ยบ for 8 minutes. (I find I need to bake mine 10-12 minutes on my stoneware)

NOTE: Double this recipe made 8 dozen cookies using a 2 - 3/4" diameter biscuit cutter.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In the {St.} Nick of Time

Finished my 6yr olds Busy Town Quilt just in time to wrap it up for Christmas. 
(And I'm thinking this will be my last finish of the year...)

I have to admit that I massively over thought this quilt. 
The fabric was purchased a long time ago but I couldn't decide on a design.  I went back and forth on a few ideas before realizing that it was just a quilt for a six year old, not the quilt he's going to take to college!  Thus a simple patchwork would suffice.
For the back I lucked out and found 1.5 yds of the Merryville (I think that's what its called...) print. 
I love it because my son can use it as a play mat for his matchbox cars.  
One present, two uses =  Awesome!

The quilting is simple straight-lines on either side of the squares.  It's pretty much the exact same as this quilt from last year.  I love it nonetheless.  Sometimes simple is better.

While I was making this quilt my son kept coming into my sewing room.  He saw the top in progress and kept asking me "When are you going to make me that quilt with the town for my cars on the back?"  My sweet little oblivious child never did figure out that I was working on his quilt the whole time.  I can't wait to see him curled up in it on Christmas morning.

Squares cut 4.5"
Finished quilt measures 48" by 52"
Main fabrics are from Michael Miller's Tot Town line.  I used 5 prints from that line.  I could only find the dig it print still for sale.
Everything else is stuff I had in my stash.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pinwheel Sampler Quilt

...from the quilt along at ps i quilt.  I think I started it way back in March.

 The sashing is Kona Ash.  I've used it before and love how it calms the craziness.  The prints were all pulled from my stash. 

The back is Alexander Henry's Starling in Natural with a border of the most perfectly matched clearance floral courtesy of Renae.

For the bindng I chose Amy Butler's full moon polka dot.  And in a stroke of luck the dots are actually all lined up even and straight on the binding. Couldn't have planned it better. 

Here is my favorite block.  I love both the color and the design.   It would make a beautiful quilt all on it's own.

This was the first quilt I have actually paid a "professional" to quilt for me.  I am definitely happy with the result, but I do think this type of quilting changes the finished look of a quilt.  For this quilt it works beautifully.

With all the designer prints in it this quilt is probably my most expensive quilt to date.  With that being said, I still didn't spend a ton. I got some of the fabrics on sale, used scraps from Leslie, and had lots of fun, small usable pieces in my stash.   I am guessing here but I'm going to say that I spend $60-$65 total (including the price of quilting).  I don't spend nearly that much on most of my quilts but it's fun to splurge every once in a while.

Finished Dimensions: 56" by 70"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Two of My Favorite Handmade Baby Gifts

a baby quilt
and matching burp cloths

for one of my favorite people
who is having baby #5 this month.

Here are instructions and a template to make your own burp cloths.  Super easy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Strangest Christmas Present Ever {Guest}

Or we could call this post "A Mother's love knows no bounds."

My friend Natalie has 4 boys who she must truly love because when her 11 yr. old decided that he wanted a Giant Squid pillow for Christmas she got to work and made him one.  This all started after he did a report for school on the Giant Squid--scientific name, Architeuthis.

Her inspiration came from this post, an equally "crazy in a good way" woman who must love her boyfriend as much as Natalie loves her #1 son.  And apparently these 2 are not the only ones who are squid-maniacs (see the post's commentary).

I think this is awesome and she did such a great job.  My only concern is that my 9 yr. old will see this and then decide that he needs one too, for his birthday in April.  Hide the squid!!!

So what's the strangest Christmas present you've ever made for someone or given to someone?

I'm dying to find out what crazy sewing/crafting you've done for your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Boy, oh boy...Christmas is fast approaching and I am trying my darnedest to get everything done in time.  I'm not usually this productive, but I would really like to start the new year out with as few unfinished projects as possible.  Anyone else trying to hustle their way through lots of projects?

WIP list:
Busy Town Quilt: quilted, working on the binding...
No new progress on anything else

The Aloha Quilt and Pinwheel Sampler.

A Fair and Square Quilt for Margaret's Hope Chest using up the extras from the Busy Town quilt above.  This one has to be done and mailed by Jan. 5th! Go read about their Wrapped in Hope Program and consider helping out with their 2011 list.  It'll make you feel good!  Promise.

This Week's Progress:
Finished: 2
Started: 1
Current Projects: 5

Monday, December 13, 2010

We interrupt this Christmas season to bring you....

....costumes for the musical "Annie".

My#2 daughter was in her middle school musical here this past weekend and the next. She is playing one of Daddy Warbuck's servants. Although she wanted a different part, she is just happy she didn't end up being a hobo. And as this is her first year of middle school and musicals, she has time to earn better parts down the road.

Anyway, I was asked to make aprons for the servant girls--all 14 of them!! I didn't use a specific pattern, which luckily did work out for me. I just winged it with the pieces, etc. as I went along, using my daughter as the model. I'm just so glad I had come across some "freebie" white fabric that was enough for most of the aprons. I think I ended up only buying 3 more yards once it was all said and done. Much cheaper than past musicals and renting costumes, or making all from scratch. I also made a quick elastic waist, straight black skirt for my daughter with fabric from "the stash". (It is times like these that I think I should never throw any chunks of fabric away because you just never know....)

My M. is on the far left--with a couple of her friends backstage.

So here are all my servant cuties during one of their scenes.
I only had 4 aprons done by the dress rehearsal day and so the rest of the girls were DYING to finally get their aprons. Too funny! They did a great job. You are the best looking servant girls around...if I do say so myself.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Aloha Quilt

During the summer my 8yr old wanted to learn how to sew. I thought the best way for her to practice lots of straight stitching would be to sew a bunch of quilt squares together. I had a stack of Hawaiian fabrics left over from our family reunion that I decided to cut up for her.

She worked really hard, got frustrated a lot, but in the end made this super fun first quilt.

Of course, her sewing wasn't exactly straight, there were parts that weren't laying flat when the top was done, but amazingly enough you can't even tell once it got quilted.

(I'm sure my family will recognize most of the fabrics we used!)

For the back I had a particular piece of fabric in mind. When we went to go buy it she vetoed it right away. Instead she picked out this turquoise print--Which in my opinion gives it a nice '80's Magnum P.I. feel. (I always loved that show!!) In the end I agree that her choice worked out better than what I had picked.

She is super happy with how it turned out, as am I. The only thing she didn't like was that I wouldn't let her quilt it herself. In fact, she was downright mad at me! I reassured her that when she'd had a few more hours of sewing behind her she'd get her shot at quilting, too.
Anyway, for a girl who's dream it is to get married in Hawaii, I think this quilt will satisfy her love for all things Hawaiian for the time being.

So, what about the other quilt I have for her??? Well, she knows about it, but doesn't know it's done. I asked her "What will happen if you end up with TWO quilts one day?" to which she replied, "I'll feel REALLY loved!"
So...the girl will have 2 quilts.

Details: Finished quilt measures 56" by 68".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

1. Pinwheel Sampler:  Got it back from the quilter, the binding is on and ready for some hand stitching.  Full reveal next week.

2. Star Wars:  Started working on the blocks (think this quilt), got about 2/3 of the way finished.   It might end up being a bday gift (in April) rather than a Christmas gift.  Oh, well...

3. String Quilt:  Did nothing on it this week but stare at it on my design wall.  I still really, really love it.  Any suggestions as to what I could possibly use for the back??

4. Busy Town:  Basted, but not quilted yet.  (It's slowly making it's way up the quilt ladder!)  Should be ready in time for Christmas.

5. Aloha Quilt:  Done!!! Will be revealed in a few days.  But here is a small peek.

Finished Projects: 1
Current WIP's: 4
New projects: 0 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What a difference sleeves make

This year our oldest daughter started HS and is playing in the orchestra. Although I am thrilled that they are required to dress up formally, we were not especially thrilled with the choice of dress we had to buy. Out of all these pretty modest dresses and options, the previous director picked this one--a sleeveless number?! for orchestra? Really?!

I don't know about any of you but I find sleeveless to be a bit distractive for orchestra. Who wants to see white, possibly flabbly arms, as you're listening to great music? And besides that we live in the upper midwest for crying out loud. We currently have lots of snow on the ground that is here to stay and we've been in the teens/single digit temps already and probably will stay there thru February. Sleeveless, really?! However, the main reason we don't love this dress is for our standards, sleeveless is immodest.

L. and her best friend C. both approached their director about adding sleeves to the dress, or wearing something else with it and thankfully he didn't have any problems with it--just so long as it was black. And interestingly enough another girl in their orchestra had already approached him with the same concern. So at least 3 girls were uncomfortable enough with the dress choice to talk to him about it. YES!

Their first concert is this Thursday and the package of additional fabric from the dress company to make sleeves will not be here in time, but I found a piece at Jo-Ann's that will work close enough until then. We are changing the dress to have sleeves more like this one. Below is our half & half look....before and after.

You can't really tell a difference on the fabric from a distance--so we should be good for this first concert. L. and C. are so much happier and comfortable with their sleeved dresses.

**Thanks Mr. Shogren for being so understanding and not making a fuss about the girls wanting to add sleeves to their dresses. (not so sure the previous director would've been as agreeable) You've been great!

**And a big thanks to Frederica at Tuxedo Wholesalers for being so accomodating and pleasant to work with. We look forward to receiving our extra fabric next week and making the sleeves permanent on these otherwise really pretty dresses.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sock Ambition

I've always wanted to learn to knit socks--not sure why--mostly I think it is just one of those things I know I could do if I just sat down and tried it. So this Christmas I've decided to make each member of my family (all 7 of us), including myself, a pair of hand-knit socks. Nothing like giving yourself a little bit of pressure on a project.

I really, really, really hope I am not too crazy and ambitious in my thinking. During the course of the last 6 months or so I've been using my Jo-Ann's and Michael's coupons to buy sock yarns. The yarn is all balled and bagged ready to go and marked for each person.

Becca, a friend from Church, has assured me that they are easy and go quickly. I am banking on that. Be warned, Becca, I might be coming over to your house with any questions and tutoring I might need.

Over Thanksgiving I started pair #1 for the youngest. Patons Kroy Socks--color Cyan Stripes. I think that for him I am just going to do easy tube socks. I'll work on heels, gussets, etc. on the following socks.

I really wanted to NOT use Dpns (double pointed needles) but use 2 long circular needles instead. I think I've found the books and tutorials to help me out finally. Knitting 2 socks at a time will be a bonus. So pair #2, which I hope to start here in the next day or two, will be worked using circulars and NOT Dpns.
Wish me luck that I get them all done in time for Christmas!

Here's an easy free pattern for socks from Patons Kroy.


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