Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pillowcases for ConKerr

I posted recently about the Friday Night Sew In.  I wanted to update you and show you my cases.  I ended up making 6 total.

The two on the outer ends are the same, a Hawaiian vintage print and coordinating pin dot.  The second with the yellow border was fun!  It's a bright flower pot print on black, and I added multicolor rickrack to the seam. 

All 6 were made from fabrics I had in my stash, and were shipped off to Arrow Cabinets on April 26, stuffed in a Priority envelope. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What do you do with the extras?

When I design a quilt, I calculate exactly how many blocks to make so I don't waste fabric or have extras.  Occasionally I've had to make one more, or end up with extra parts, but seldom do I have enough for another project.  Maybe there are scraps (eventually I'll do something with them) but I'm usually pretty good at not being wasteful.

I recently won a beautiful assortment of 14 fat quarters (FQs) from Hoffman of California for posting a comment on Facebook.   I looked for patterns that would effectively use the assortmet, and liked the look of Atkinson Design's Yellow Brick Road pattern.  The cutting uses almost all of the fabric.  I only needed 12, so I pulled out the darker teal handpaint and the really light cream one.  The pattern was pretty easy to follow, although I did sew 12 blocks when I needed to only sew 6 of that version, and had to unsew the pieces to use in Block C.  The directions could have been a little clearer in my opinion. 
So when all the blocks were finished, I realized I had 5 extra.  I could have made the quilt longer, but for a lap size, it was already long enough.  I took the 5 extra blocks and made some snack mats or mug rugs, and a small table runner.  I like having quick projects to practice Free Motion Quilting on.  I picked a flower shape to try, and added leaves.  I think it came out cute, and would be perfect on a small kitchen table, or snack bar, or even coffee table.  Where else do you suggest?

What do you do with extra blocks?  I'm also glad I checked the measurements for the border before cutting.  I use the Robert Kaufman app for my Droid phone and cut one less strip.  I was able to use the fabric for binding the mats and runner.  I hope to get the quilt top pinned Monday and will work on quilting it this week.  The mats and runner are listed in my Etsy store.  I'll have to do something with some of the other little blocks I have.  It was fun to make this!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The latest win

I'm still hoping for the winning Mega Millions ticket, but I'm graciously accepting all the little surprises, too. 

A while ago, maybe back in February or March, I commented on a blog post for Westcott scissors.  On April 5, I got an email that I won a pair of non-stick scissors and a holster.  I was surprised they took about 2 weeks to get here, but this arrived this morning.  And yes, the purple scissors match my mat and snips and seam ripper and stiletto, lol.  I think it's funny that I keep winning, and love that all the prizes so far were interesting and useful. 

I'm not sure I'll ever use the holster, since I don't wear a belt, but it's fun!  Who doesn't love pink feathers and zebra print!  It may be good to protect the scissors when packed in my bag.

I'm off to test the new scissors.  Oh, by the way, you can probably win stuff, too.  I think it's a matter of the numbers.  You need to enter a lot of contests, and like a lot of Facebook pages.  Eventually things will start coming in the mail.  And many of the companies share other's contests.  Look also on SewCal Gal's blog.  She has a list of current contests and give aways.  The more you enter, the better your chances of winning something.  I'm cautious, though.  I only enter if I really like or need the item.  I don't want to take a chance away from someone who really could use it.  A recent example:  Someone was giving away a 4" HST Accuquilt GO! die.  I already own one, so didn't enter.  Any other dies I don't have are up for grabs, though, lol.  Have fun entering! 

A FNSI for ConKerr sponsored by Arrow Cabinets

Handmade by Heidi

 Arrow Cabinets mentioned a FNSI a few weeks ago.  What on earth is a FNSI???  I had no idea.  There are wayyy too many acronyms out in Blog land!!  It actually stands for Friday Night Sew In.  I sew most every night, and most days, but I can see where someone who has a job, small family and spouse may need to schedule time for a passion.  I am lucky that I can play when I want!  Although a spouse would be nice, and maybe a real salary, but I digress...

Heidi and her friends teamed with Arrow Cabinets and ConKerr Cancer to get their usual FNSI participants to make pillowcases.  Arrow is providing great prizes for random winners who make and send them pillowcases.  The cases will be sent to ConKerr Cancer to be distributed to cancer patients in hospitals.  It makes their room more cheery and provides a reminder that they are not battling alone; that lots of people support them.  I decided to participate, and since I plan to see Wizard of Oz at BeCa High Friday, I won't be sewing!  I wanted to get them done.  It takes about 3/4 yard of fabric for the main print, and about 1/3 for the trim section.  It only takes about 2 hours to make 3.  They are actually quick and very easy, and perfect for a beginner.  There is even a fun surprise if you use the "Hot Dog" method.  So, I pulled some of my fabrics that I hope would brighten someone's day.  The first was an Electric Guitar print on royal blue, and I paired it with bright red.  I hope some boy who loves music enjoys it.  The second print I pulled with a turquoise blue "plaid" with cell phones and more acronyms on it.  It's fun and cute.  I paired that with some eggplant purple solid.  CUL8ter! BFF! Lol. 

 The third fabric is a bold print with circles and leaves and colors.  I know where I got it.  It was not what I ordered!!  I do pick some novelty prints, like guitars and cell phones and cars, but this is too wild for me.  I showed Christine (my QBFF) when it came in the order from Quilt In A Day, and she said it was cool.  I thought it was weird!!  I couldn't think how I was ever going to use it.  But I also realize that not everyone likes my florals, and others like fabrics and designs like this.  It is certainly bright and funky!  I paired that with the eggplant Kona cotton, too.  I added a little white trim to both of the more girly prints, and then washed them. 
Wowza!! I need sunglasses with that one!

The pillowcases are ready to ship to Arrow.  But wait!  There's more!!  I weighed the 3 and they are more than 15 ounces, so more than $3.50 for shipping first class.  The next deal price is Priority First Class envelope, for $5.  But don't you think I should add some more pillow cases to make the shipping worth it?  I do have more fabric.  I'll dig through and see what else I can whip up over the weekend. 

I'm glad I can do something like this to make someone feel better.  If you want to buy fabric or learn how to make this pillowcase, let me know.  You can do a simple thing like this, too.  It's so worth it! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quiche me!!

Another favorite recipe.  My niece Lisa had a birthday brunch for her little son Noah, and made a variety of quiches, and I contributed peach struesel muffins, blueberry muffins, and chocolate chip loaf.  They had little bagels and fresh fruit and crumb cake.  I have recipes for all, and will eventually get them on here, but today I'm making Quiche.  My favorite is broccoli, white cheddar and bacon.  Sometimes I add cubed apples, too.  You can add whatever you like to the base.  It is perfect to freeze after it's cooked and easy to reheat.  This is based on Lisa's quiche recipe.

So, if your friends are coming for lunch, you can whip this up in about 15 minutes.  Add a salad and fruit, and you have a perfect treat for your sewing buddies.  It bakes in about 45 minutes, then you can let it set for about 15. 


Preheat oven to 350*.  Bake for about 45 minutes. 
(Mine is a little more browned than it should be, oops, lol)

1 unbaked pie crust (I use Pillsbury roll out.  I buy them at BJ's and freeze them,)
3 eggs, whisked until blended
1 cup milk
1 tbsp flour
1 cup shredded cheese
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup of your favorites;
Suggestions:  Frozen broccoli, spinach, bacon, ham,  baking apple, asparagus, swiss cheese, cheddar

1. Place pie crust in your favorite pie pan, and flute the edges. 
2. Mix remaining ingredients and pour into shell. 

Bake at 350* for about 45 minutes.  It should be lightly browned and not be runny.

Really, that's it!  So easy, so tasty, and you can impress your guests.  You can play with any additions, and add more if you prefer.  I love it for a light dinner, too.  It reheats well in the microwave (cover with plastic wrap.)  Tonight's version has 3 to 4 strips of cooked, drained and crumbled bacon, white cheddar, and more than a cup of broccoli.  I do prefer grating my own cheese.  I buy a bulk piece from BJ's or Sam's club, and use a food processor.  It tastes better than the pre-grated in the stores, which have added cellulose to prevent caking. Don't they make sponges out of that stuff??  You can even grate the whole block and freeze the rest.  And yeah I do add extra cheese.  I grate a little over 8  to 10 ounces in weight, and lots of broccoli.  For ham, I usually get deli sliced, and cut up about 4 or 5 slices into little pieces.   

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Heeeheee, Another Win!

Sometimes it pays to do your research.  And for some reason, it also paid to be named Maryellen! lol.  Arrow Cabinets on Facebook has a number of contests and games going, and they always have fun prizes.  On April 10, they posted a "Pop Quiz" on their blog,  I did some research, answered the questions, and emailed my answer.  The next day, I got an email saying I won! Here's the blog about the winners.

And here's what came in the mail, just a week later.  That's fast shipping! 

The tote is a perfect size to help organize my collection of Quilt In A Day specialty rulers and the directions for them.  The card is a coupon for up to $50 off a cabinet at my favorite machine store, Pocono Sew and Vac. 

I also won a pair of Wescott scissors for commenting on a blog (haven't received them yet) and I'm really excited about the free 1 month membership to The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  I can watch all the shows I want on my computer.  I'm making a list of ones I want to see or re-view (they had a free weekend during International Quilting Day in March) and am looking forward to using that!  That prize was from a blog by SewCal Gal.

I'm still hoping this winning streak (I usually don't win anything, lol) will culminate in a nice Mega Millions win!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Guess it's a writing night.

I just finished a blog post about dinner, and decided to do a quick post about my latest quilt.  I wouldn't want you to think I 'm not sewing! 

I recently won some fabrics.  I think I blogged about it in March.  Anyway, one of the prizes was an assortment of 14 batik FQ pieces from Hoffman of California, in the Honeysuckle colorway.  It's a beautuful collection of teal blue and brown, with golden tans and a little green.  I'm making a quilt, but also have 5 blocks left over.  They will be a small table runner and 2 snack mats.  The pattern for the quilt is from Atkinson Designs, called Yellow Brick Road.  It's pretty easy and fast, and the lap size uses 12 FQs.  A Fat Quarter (FQ) is a piece of fabric that is about 18 by 22 inches.  A normal quarter of a yard is 9 by 44.  A FQ is a half yard (18 inches) cut in half by the width.  Picture a small cake.  Instead of cutting 4 thin slices, you cut it into 4 squares (an X).  That's a fat quarter! 

The top is currently complete, with border, but this picture shows how it looked on Enright's design wall, before we moved some squares around.  Each square is 9 1/2" at this point.  Isn't it a great wall?  Perfect for playing with pieces (and large enough for a lap quilt!  The border is teal, like the larger teal (darker) section in the 2nd square from the right, top row.  As soon as I find backing fabric, it will get basted and quilted. 

Do you like it??  It's really pretty in person! 

Something a little different

Hi!  You usually find me talking about my quilts or my dog, Hazel, or Hazel on my quilts.  I have some good recipes to share, too. 

I love cooking great tasting food, but living alone means I either need to cook and clean (not fun) daily, or find or create recipes that are easy to reheat.  I've developed a few.  Most times, I love a meal that's fast and tasty, but occasionally do make something that takes time to prepare.  Today's recipe for Pasta Carbonaro with Chicken is pretty fast.  If you have the ingredients and the bacon is precooked, it's done in about 20 minutes. 

This will make enough for 3 or 4 servings, and can easily be expanded for more.  My family loved it the last time I made it for them. 

Pasta Carbonaro with Chicken

2 boneless chicken breast portions, cut into about 1 inch cubes
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
dried parsley, basil and thyme to taste

Saute the diced chicken in a large skillet with the olive oil, garlic and herbs.  I allow it to brown a little.  I love my Pampered Chef tongs to help make sure I get all the sides cooked (and for turning bacon!). 

As that's cooking, boil water for your favorite pasta.  My choice today was Whole Wheat ziti style.  I've used tri-colored rolotini and linguini.  I do think angle hair is too thin for this.  I used 1/2 pound of pasta.  When the pasta is about 1/2 done, add 3/4 to 1 Cup frozen peas.  I found BJ's carries a really nice organic bag of frozen peas.  Green Giant and Birds Eye are good, too, but I bought the store brand (trying to save) and they were horrible.  The good ones have a nice sweet flavor, and add to the color and nutrition of this yummy meal. 

As the chicken and pasta/peas are cooking. put the following in a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat.
1/4 cup butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup cream (light cream works well, as does heavy, but half and half is too salty to my taste)
3/4 cup Locatelli brand grated romano cheese (you can use half romano and half parmesan)
2 to 3 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
fresh ground pepper to taste.

Bring the cheese and cream mixture to a boil and stir constantly until it thickens. 

In a large pasta bowl or covered Corning dish, combine drained pasta and peas, chicken and sauce. Toss well and serve with your favorite salad and crusty bread.  You can sprinkle additional parmesan or romano cheese. 

To reheat, add a splash of milk and reheat (covered with plastic wrap) in the microwave for about 3 minutes. 

A hint about bacon:  I use it in a few of my recipes, so here's how I cook it for one person.
I buy it at Sam's Club or BJ's.  It's usually 3 packages in a box, and I freeze it.  I slice one frozen bacon, right through the plastic, with a sharp knife about half way, then break it in half.  Basically, you have just cut the long strips in half.  I just push down against the edge of my counter and it breaks the rest of the way.  I thaw (usually microwave) the 1/2 pound, and return the other half (in a zipper freezer bag) to the freezer.  Then I cook the bacon (my favorite way is traditional, in a fry pan on stove top).  I place the cooked, drained bacon in a zipper bag and refrigerate until I need it.  Quiche, bacon cheese burgers and more are so easy!  For the burgers, I just reheat it while the burger is cooking.  I may crumble a bit over a salad, too.  For a recipe, just remember you have half slices, so when I say 2 to 3 slices, I pick 4 to 6 from the bag.  Easy!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April's Free Motion Quilting Challenge post

SewCal Gal and Don Linn got together for a very enlightening and informative tutorial.  Brilliant!!

So, say you have a stencil or drew a design that you wanted to stencil and quilt.  But it's the wrong size.  Photocopy the design and use the machine's functions to make it bigger or smaller to fit. 
So, say it now fits, how do you easily create a traceable stencil?? This is where Don's idea is so cool.  Get an embroidery hoop and a piece of tulle (bridal veil fabric) to fit inside the rings.  Make the tulle nice and smooth in the hoop, and place the hoop, tulle flat, on the copy paper.  Trace it with a Sharpie, which marks the tulle.  Iron (nylon setting) to set the marker, and you now have a stencil to mark your quilts, without using XActo knives or plastic.  The netting can be stored in a plastic page protector with the copy, so you can create and change stencils to suit your taste, and transfer the designs easily.  Brilliant!!  No expensive light box needed, and you can even transfer the design after the quilt is pin-basted (just remove the pins where the stencil is going, then replace them before quilting.)  You can't do that with a light box!  Did I say brilliant??

Our task this month was to use this idea to trace a design, and use our free motion skills to stitch it.  Don provided a design just for this task, and I thought it was pretty.  It also provided some (much needed by me) practice in retracing a line you have stitched. 

So, I know exactly where some wooden hoops are in my sewing area (on the wall, just hanging around for about 20 years, lol)  I also know I have lots of tulle from making quite a few headpieces and bridal things and play costumes (um, almost 20 years?? lol)  So, I pulled out the box I was SURE had tulle.  Nope, netting, too spaced out.  Next box, again certain it had to be there.  Nope, more netting, and some organza (too fine).  Beginning to feel a little like Goldilocks here (Where's the just right??)  3rd box had it.  Locate the Sharpie, create a quilt sandwich, and traced away!  I used a blue wash-out marker on the first, and a red EZ Washout quilters pencil on the second.  Both marked the design I traced, but I did have to press harder than I normally do with a stencil and Sewline pencil (which I tried, but it didn't work for this exercise)  I also did a little more of a "sketching" line. 

I felt the practice was very valuable.  I really thought my retracing has improved (I'm loving the spring darning foot, since it's offset from center, and I can see behind the needle.)  The sample fabric is a white tone on tone muslin, and the batting is Warm & Natural cotton.  The thread is Sulky 30wt cotton quilting thread in a pink variegated, with a size 14 quilting needle and Gutermann in the bobbin.  I washed out the marker lines and pressed it a bit.  I DO plan on using this technique on my son's quilt (Double Irish Chain) as soon as I decide which design I want to use.   It's difficult to find stencils that fit, and this makes any design accessible.  Did I say Brilliant???  If you want to see Don's video, use the FMQ Challenge picture on the right side of my blog to link to SewCal Gal's blog, click on Free Motion Quilt Challenge tab, and in the chart, click on April.  You will see a link to the video.  He also has books with additional designs, that include directional arrows for stitching. 

Yeah, I played a little with the center of the flower.  One has a swirl and the other a cross hatch design.  I also tried to line them up to see how it might work (or a similar/smaller design) as a border.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Raggy Quilts

A number of years ago, I saw a "new" type of quilt somewhere on the computer.  I thought it looked fun and easy, and I did some research.  It IS fun and very easy, and great for beginners and kids (with assistance in the clipping, unless you have pre-fringed squares, but more about that later.)

Little did I know that it would lead me down the path I'm currently on, or that it would enable me to make so many wonderful "online" friends.  I met so many wonderful quilters from all over the US in the process of creating that first try, and every time I make another, I think of all of them and the special bond we share. 

Making a raggy quilt is really easy.  And it's full of options, so you can be as simple or creative as you wish,. 

First pick your fabrics, then the size you want to make.  My good friend Shannon at Fabrics N Quilts created this calculator to help with yardage.

Check out her blog and store while you are there!  She's one of my favorite stores. 

Then decide how big you want your squares to finish.  I personally like them larger, so there is less cutting and it's faster to make.  You will add between 1 and 11/2 inches to this size for the fringe, or bloom, which is actually the seam allowance.  You want at least 1/2" on each side.  This latest has 3/4" fringe.  You need a top square, a middle layer and a bottom.  Fabrics that fray well work better, so most raggies will be made with flannel, homespun, denim, or similar.  You can also use batting in the middle.  Cut your squares to your desired size.  Batting would be cut just a little smaller than the "finished" size of your square, but flannel, if used as the middle layer, could be cut the same.  It makes the fringe fuller.  Most don't use a middle layer if you are using denim as the back (it's so heavy on its own, you don't need a batting/middle.)  Layer your squares like this:  Backing fabric, wrong side down.  Center the batting over this, or lay your middle square on it, then your top square, right side up. 
Most people sew an X to quilt the layers together.  It should be done if using batting, but doesn't need it if using flannel.  I do quite a few, chain piecing them.  Sometimes I pick a fun S shaped stitch on my machine, and I do recommend a walking foot during this. 

Next, lay out your squares in a nice design.  Carefully collect your squares, and put the BACKS together.  You will be sewing on the top side, and the back of the quilt will be smooth.  Sew your squares together, remembering your figured seam allowance from before.  Sew the columns then the rows.  I like to sew corners with one seam going north, and the other south.  Some of my friends prefer to sew the seams open.  Then sew your seam allowance again around the outside edge. 

Use raggy snips or scissors to carefully trim the seams, about every 1/4" away, until you have fringed the whole top.  Wash and tumble dry the quilt, and you have a finished quilt!  Remember to check the dryer lint collector often when drying it.  It will need frequent emptying the first few times you wash this quilt. 

I used an Accuquilt GO! 8 1/2" Raggy Die for this one, and only had to clip the seam points.  It did take much longer to cut, though, since I could only do 2 layers of fabric.  Once that was done, having the fringe clipped made it really easy to finish, though.  This one uses a collection of 8 Fat Quarters (two yards) plus 2 1/2 yards for the extra blocks on the front and the back (pink flannel) and another 2 1/2 yds of white flannel in the middle.  It measures about 40 X 47 inches. 

I finished this Raggy quilt last night and listed it in my Etsy shop.  It's so soft.  Everyone just wants to touch it and cuddle in it when they see it.  I've also made purses and totes raggy style.  The design possiblilies are almost limitless in this style of quilting.  Let me know if you have made any, or want more info about making one.