Saturday, December 20, 2014

#Sweet Goodness

SewCal Gal is at it again!  She's so sweet, and she's asking us to share our sweet goodness, too.  Go HERE for more info!  And if you happen to recognize my post from last time on her blog, she featured me!! Little ol' me!  I'm so honored!

Well, it just so happens that I had a sweet day!  My son, who I don't get to see often enough, had today off.  He works 2 jobs, and although he lives about 30 minutes away, his jobs are in the opposite direction, so I cherish the time we do get to spend together.  And Hazel totally adores having time with her boy.  She barely lets him sit without leaving balls and frisbees in his lap.  At one point today, he was leaning against the couch with his right leg crossed in front of the left, and Hazel dropped the ball in that little "shelf" where his jeans bunched enough to hold it.  It was pretty funny.  He won't be able to attend the family Christmas in NY this year, so this was our Christmas.

His favorite #SweetGoodness thing that I bake is Nestle's Toll House Pie.  It's a chocolate and pecan pie in a cookie like base, all in a pie shell.  It takes about 15 minutes to prep, and the house smells so good while it bakes.  Here's the recipe.  I often use the Pillsbury pie crusts, and always have the ingredients for this on hand.  It's great for pot-lucks and dinners with friends, too.  Just make sure there's either vanilla ice cream (or chocolate chip) or whipped cream, available.  I told him to take 1/2 the pie home today.  He loves it cold, too.
 Nestle's photo is actually better than mine.  I need to work on food styling photos!

I also wanted to try baking Snickerdoodles.  Bernie gave me the recipe a few years ago, and I've never made them.  But since Matt isn't as crazy about chocolate as I am, I figured I would bake these today, too.  When he was young, we baked together.  I miss that time, and now, he usually would rather play video games, but I dragged him into this.  And I totally loved doing it with my grown son, just like when he was young.  That was Sweet Goodness for me.  More memories, and him eating the dough instead of making cookies.
 I asked him to mix the cinnamon and sugar, It was about 2 Tbsp of each, and we put it in a bowl.  I beat 1 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until creamy.  Then I added 2 eggs, and beat that.  Mix in 2 tsp Cream of Tartar, 1 tsp baking soda, and 2 3/4 cups sifted flour and 1/2 tsp salt.  I grabbed my 2 large cookie sheets and the parchment paper, and handed him the cookie scoop from Pampered Chef.  He liked using the tool to drop the rounds of dough in the cinnamon sugar, and I rolled them around and placed them on the cookie sheets.  They do spread out, so leave room!  Bake at 400* for 8 to 10 minutes.  I do plan to make these again.  They were perfectly crunchy at the edge and wonderfully tender and buttery in the middle.

And, one more Sweet Goodness is my Christmas cookies!  I use the basic Spritz recipe from the cookie press package.  I double the recipe, and press 1/2 of it with the round disk.  I add green food coloring to the rest, and press out the trees.  I add sprinkles or colored sugar to those, and dip the round ones in melted chocolate chips (place in a bowl, and microwave for about 2 minutes.  Make sure the bowl is completely dry, or you get gritty chocolate) and then dip in sprinkles or other decorating things.

This is another thing I bring to holiday parties and share with friends.  I found it really funny, that after re- connecting with a friend from 6th grade, on Facebook, the one thing she really remembered about me back then was my Christmas Tree cookies!  She said they were the best. I thought she would remember my guitar playing and singing.  She's already asked for a plate again this year.  I guess I'll have to bake some more of these.  

What's your #Sweetgoodness?

Thanks for visiting!  


Friday, December 19, 2014

Leona's Log Cabin

Another finished quilt.  This and 2 others (see THIS POST.) are finally on their way to Massachusetts, for Liz to deliver to the recipients.  

Leona, Liz's Mother-in-law, was a quilter and teacher and owned a fabric store on Long Island.  As far as Liz could remember, Leona started this top around 1985 for Liz's son, Josh.  He was Leona's first grandchild, and Liz's first son.  Leona did this all by hand, using a variety of solids for the center blocks, and then adding prints in similar colors as it, and Josh, grew.  This was a "quilt as you go" style, all hand stitched.  Basically, you sew the layers together right through the batting and backing.  The batting in this one is polyester.  I'm sure many of the fabrics are also poly blends.  

I'm also guessing as Josh grew, Leona set this aside.  Leona passed away in 2013, right before Josh's daughter, Tillie, was born.  Tillie would have been Leona's first great-granddaughter.  Back in March, Liz asked me to finish this for Tillie.  Hand sewing is not something I usually enjoy doing.  This was in 3 pieces, still, and there are still 2 more blocks.  I had to sew the one row together, while discovering tons of old pins, and then add that row to the rest of the top, by hand stitching the backing, and then the front.  Luckily, all of the quilting was already done.  It's always so difficult to match someone's stitching, and I was worried that my work would not look like Leona's, but I don't think you could tell where I added the row.  It's so different from how I work, and the fabrics I prefer, so it was interesting and a great challenge.  

This is a view of the backing.  It's been pieced, too, as Leona added rows.  I love the crayon print, and the yellow calico.   

This is the front.  The center blocks are all solids, and the outer rows have calico prints.  

After I got the last row added, I searched for a good fabric to bind the quilt.  None of my calicos worked, so I chose a red solid, to pull out the red centers of the blocks.  I added this label to the back.  

This is my first computer printed label.  I used freezer paper ironed to fabric, so I could print it.  I'm hoping the inks don't wash out.  I do plan to finish the last 2 blocks into pillow covers.  At first Liz had thought they could be added to the quilt, but I would have needed 4 blocks, or more fabrics like the ones used., but that's very difficult.  These colors are difficult to match, and calicos are not easy to find.  The few I have from the 1980s are not the same colors.  Yes, I do have fabrics that are that old.  I've been sewing much longer than that. 

I'm honored to be able to finish Leona's quilts.  I'm especially happy to finish this for Tillie, who never got to meet her great-grandmother, and will now have a gift from her.  Tillie's other great-grandmother is my Aunt Eileen, my father's sister.  

I do have one more quilt to finish for Liz, and I'm working on restoring the machine and cabinet Liz gave me.  I'm honored to know I have a part in Leona's legacy.  

Thanks for visiting.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Busy! Busy! Lots to do!

This post is a 3 for the price of one!

First, my progress on the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt with Bonnie Hunter

Grand Illusion

Clue 3 was released on Friday, and I took a little while to begin working on it.  First, I pulled more green fabrics.  I had only 3 colors, and since this block used 4, I decided to grab another.  My blocks may end up all the same, or I may have to add more greens later, as well as another black and white.  I'm pulling from my stash, though, and using some scraps.  My goal for next year, besides improving my piecing skills and free motion quilting, will be to get more organized with scraps.  Some of what I'm using in this quilt are left-overs from previous quilts.  I need to develop Bonnie's system, though. I'm finishing more quilts, and using some of my stash, but need to use the scraps and bits left over from the yardage.  Anyway, here are the photos of my machine today, and the results of the test blocks from clue 3.  I'm still working on 2 and the extra half square triangles (HST) units from clue 1, 1.  All 100 blocks of 1 are done, and I think 50 of  Step 2.  I must mention that I didn't do the 2 x 4 green, white and black units on my vintage machine.  They require pressing the strip sets before the next step, and my iron is in the basement sewing area.  I can finger-press the triangle units from Step 1 and 2 to keep assembling them on the vintage machine.   It was faster to do Unit 3 down there.  I have 110 more to go.  I need to press all the other finished units, though.

That little pile on the right are the dog ears, those little bits of triangles that need to be trimmed before a block can be assembled.  I have a thread and scrap catcher (under the pincusion) and these will go in there.  I snip into a pile and then gather them and put them in the catcher.  Although I'm sure some have slid through the seam in the cabinet.  I'll have to check under there later.  

BUT!!All this needs to be set aside for a few days, while I make a Pirate shirt for a special order, and also a cowboy shirt.  I was able to get the fabric yesterday.  
Pirate shirt is unbleached muslin.   It will have brown lacing at the neck.  This is an item I list in my Etsy store. 

The cowboy shirt will be all black, with black pearl snaps instead of buttons.  This is another special order, for a friend.  I may consider doing these for others.  I have to see, after it's done.  

AND!!! Part 3 is that I'm going to be participating in the Sock Hop blog hop in January, with Island Batiks. 

As an Island Batiks ambassador, I am so excited to participate.  I chose the collection called Down In the Boondocks.  It's a gorgeous collection of teals and browns and creams.  2 prints have sweet turtles and coral reefs, and 2 have pineapple prints.  The light teal is floral, and one cream has fronds or sea grass designs.  Here's a peak at the fabrics I'll be using.  You'll have to come back to see what I've designed, and maybe, just maybe, I'll have a give-away.  

But, since it's almost Christmas (and Happy Hanukkah tonight) I have to finish the shirts first, then some gifts, then some baking, and some cleaning, and another clue comes out on Friday, and some more baking, some decorating, some cleaning, and then some driving.  Amid all of that will be some carol singing and sewing and quilting and packing and more carols.  

Thanks for visiting! 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Sew Cal Gal's Glitter Goodness Linky

SewCal Gal's Glitter Goodness

'Tis the Season for Bling!  I love the sparkles of new fallen snow in the moonlight, and silvery and gold painted fabrics and Christmas decor.  It just makes me smile when I see something sparkle.  I'm sure you can think of things that sparkle, too.  Maybe it's the eyes of a child looking at a pile of gifts under a pretty Christmas tree, or the smile in his or her eyes when they go zooming down a snow covered hill on a sled.  One of my favorites is seeing my dog, Hazel, run and jump and play in the snow.  She will try to catch snowballs, and just gets so excited when someone plays with her.

It just may be the sparkle of lights or the moon through the icicles.  This was from my door last winter.

Want to see some quilts I've made that have glittery accents?  This first one is a design I saw online many years ago, and I collected a variety of blue fabrics with silver accents to make this quilt.

I used Superior Silver metallic thread for the quilting.   This is a quilt that I love using all winter long.  It's currently on my lap, as I type this blog post.  The sparkles certainly lighten my day.

Another quilt I recently completed is this one.  The fabrics are from Island Batiks, and the gold metallic accents are really stunning.  The pattern is Sew Radiance from Quilt In A Day, and quilting thread, again, is Superior Light Gold metallic.

This one can be found in my Etsy store.  
Hints about metallic thread!  First, use Superior.  It's really the best.  Second, use a good needle for topstitching, and go slower than usual.  Make sure you use a cone holder, if needed, and adjust your tension, and use a thread net.  More info can be found on Superior's website.  Just note that all metallic threads are a challenge, but Superior really does work the best.  It will be less of a challenge than other brands, and your quilting or embroidery will be outstanding.  

Glitter certainly adds some warmth to your home, and sparkle to your fun.  

So, if you are not a quilter, remember to add some colored sugar to your cookies, or glitter paints on glass for candle holders, or candles in your sconces.  Enjoy your sparkles!  
Thanks for visiting.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Grand Illusion Link Up

Grand Illusion

Grand Illusion Mystery by Bonnie Hunter Part 2

This is so much fun, knowing that thousands of people are creating the same quilt, but with different fabrics, all because of Bonnie Hunter and her outstanding designs, teaching, and knowledge.

I've gathered my fabrics, although I may need more pink, and have all of Step 1 and Step 2 cut out.  I have 60+ (of 100) blocks of step 1 done, and 6 of step 2 (also need 100).

Here's a few photos.  I'm doing this on my restored Singer 1954 15-91, which sits next to the window in my dining room.  I can do a few pieces in between cooking and baking, before bed, and when I have time.  I'm not in a rush.  I'll get it done, because I love these colors.
Should I blame Bonnie because I burned my hamburger bun in the toaster oven the other night?  I got so involved in piecing, I forgot until the smell of burnt bread wafted over to me.  

I'm using the directions #2 for Part 2.  The triangles are so easy to stack and cut with the EZ ruler.
My template printed well, but with my vision, I need to see where the fabric is underneath, and white tone on tone is difficult to see under white paper.  I used Glowline tape to mark where the template ended, and can see where my fabric needs to be, against that line.  

I hope everyone else is having fun with this!  However Bonnie had put these pieces together, it's guaranteed to be awesome!  And, I'm using some scraps, in addition to the yardage and FQs I pulled for this.  Some of these fabrics have been in previous quilts.  That's fun, too.  I need to do that more often.  But I'm really curious.  I wonder how many Easy Angle rulers Bonnie has in her collection, and how often she needs to replace hers.  They must get so much use!  
Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

#Creative Goodness

I'm linking up with SewCal Gal's #Creative Goodness party.

The theme is #FallGoodness this week.  I wanted to share my table runner.  I love the pattern Autumn Leaves by Quilt In A Day.  You can watch the video by Eleanor Burns HERE. And there's a free pattern to make a turkey out of the same block HERE.

I've made this pattern a few times, and love it!  The leaves come out so pretty, and the directions are great.  Plus, you can change it up and make the borders the way you want.  I love stitching the veins on the leaves.  I basically pretend I'm drawing in the veins, only I do it with my sewing machine.  Start at the stem, go up to the top, come back down, add a few angled veins, and before you know it, you have a leaf!

Here's the most recent one I've done.

I love this one, too.  There are fiberoptic lights surrounding the center square.  

So, if you're looking for a great pattern, check out Quilt In A Day.  I checked the website, and they're currently out of stock, but you can find it elsewhere.  There are also free Leaf block patterns available.  Make something fun for your Autumn table!  
Thanks for visiting. 


Christmas is Coming

Normally I can wait until after Thanksgiving to begin decorating my house for Christmas.  This year, because I was working with this gorgeous Island Batiks fabric group, I've been itching to hang my stockings and put the wreath on the door!  I'm in the spirit!

As an Island Batiks ambassador, I receive collections of various prints.  I can use the collection as I wish.  But that can be a little intimidating.  First, you get a bundle of fabrics, often 1/2 yard pieces of each.  I want to use them to show off the gorgeous colors, and that wonderful hand dyed texture, but what can one do with just 1/2 yard?  I don't like wasting the fabrics, and want to use as much as possible.

I also love Quilt In A Day, and have subscribed to their Block Party this year.  These last few months have been new patterns.  Sew Radiant is one of the latest, designed by Pat Knoechel, Eleanor Burn's sister (and someone I've met a few times at her show at Pocono Sew & Vac).

Well, this pattern uses fat quarters and some yardage.  I picked 3 reds, 3 greens and 3 golds from the Island Batiks bundles, and one more print for the binding, and used almost all of it on this quilt.  I think I have 2 4" strips left, and some 1" strip scraps.  Yippee!  I can make some mug rugs out of the remaining fabrics.

The Island Batkis fabrics are gorgeous. 
After cutting the blocks, I had pieces that were about 4" wide, so I pieced them to the right length for the borders.   

 The red fabrics have stars and snowflakes, in gold metallic paint, and a batik print with green leaves.  The greens have pine branches or reindeer, snowflakes and words like Rejoice, Joy, and Noel in gold, or a batik pine print.  The gold had the gold pine branches, stars and swirls.  All the backgrounds are hand dyed batiks.  And the threadcount of the base fabric is wonderful, too.  It's so nice to work with gorgeous colors and fabrics that are sturdy and don't fray.  
 Backing is a poinsettia print with gold accents, but not from Island Batiks. 

Quilting was done on my Viking Sapphire, all hand guided (FMQ) with Superior metallic thread in light gold.  I did a snowflake in the center block, and feathers surrounding it, and in the border.  6 bobbins of Aurifil 50wt for the backing, in red.   Most metallic threads are difficult to work with.  Superior is the best I've found, and it gives a lovely accent to the fabrics from Island Batiks. 

So, don't you want to light a fire in the fireplace, turn on It's A Wonderful Life, and snuggle in with a cup of hot chocolate, next to your favorite person or dog?  Yeah, me too.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Catching Up

I can't believe I haven't written in a while.  Things have been a little crazy, though.  Other things have been more important, so...

I'm working on a quilt top featuring Island Batiks and the Sew Radiant pattern from Quilt In A Day. I need to figure out the last border, and then get it quilted.  It's gorgeous, though.  Pictures to come. 

I am also getting ready to do some craft shows.  I made some stemware coaster sets.  If they don't sell at the show, I'll list them in my Etsy shop.

I built a display rack for my quilts, for the shows.  It's similar in design to the ones I borrowed at Memorytown over the summer, but not "furniture" grade.  I don't have the tools to really build it like that, so I did what I could,  I purchased the wood pre-cut to the lengths I needed, at Home Depot.  I used Red Mahogany stain, and need to do another coat or 2 of polyurethane, but since the first craft sale is this week, that'll have to wait.  It stands about 4 feet high and is 5 feet wide, and is made out of pine.  I discovered that I need a new sander.  The vibrating one I have is very old, and barely moves.  I laughed when I plugged it in.  Anyway, this design may hold up to 10 quilts, if I fold them correctly.  I can fit it in my car, and I can lift it.  That's some of the reasons I did it this way.  Plus, it folds for storage.  

The yellow and blue Log Cabin quilt is one my cousin Liz's mother-in-law started for Liz's son.  When Leona passed away, Liz asked me to finish 4 quilts for her.  Two are done, this is the third (needs a label) and the last one will be done next week.  This will be given to Leona's great-granddaughter.  I'm honored to finish this hand pieced, quilted as you go quilt.  I'll share more details on Leona's quilts soon. 

And, I needed to get my car inspected.  I had been told that the headlight lenses would not pass inspection again.  That's a sore spot for me, since I complained about them when I purchased the car.  The dealership promised to replace them, but instead did a really bad job of using a "restore" kit, making them look worse, and charging me $99.  I seldom drove at night, because the lights were not bright, and with keratoconus, it's a huge issue.  I decided to check with the auto parts store, and the guy recommended a 3M kit, basically a series of sanding disks that attach to a power drill, and some cream polishes and wax.  The kit cost about $28.  It took about 30 minutes per light.  Here's the before and after shots. 

How about these for after?

It's not perfect, but for a 10 year old car, I think they are wonderful.  I am finally able to drive at night!  I can even see the overhead street signs.  It's amazing.  

I've also been working on the machine Liz gave me, Leona's Singer 15.  The cabinet was in bad shape.  I thought it only needed sanding, but I ended up having to strip the finish on all the horizontal surfaces.  There was either black paint or thick black oil imbedded into the wood.   I got it out, and so far have a nice coat of red mahogany stain, and one coat of polyurethane.  I'll get to the rest after this weekend.  The body only needed some Howard's RestorAFinish and wax, and looks good.  I plan to get a 1/4" foot with guide for this machine, and use it for piecing blocks.  It's similar to the 15-91, and they will both be getting good use.  More details on that soon, too.  

AND, I picked up some of the chrome polish and carnuba car wax that the vintage sewing machine group on Facebook recommends.  I decided to play on the 15-91, and I think it came out great.  
The chrome polish did a great job of removing the gunk in the cover on the back of the machine.  It was yellowed and thick with crud.  About 5 minutes did this. 

I plan to use this on Leona's as well.  

And I finished a Fall leaf table runner.  

And I attended a quilt show and did the Eastern PA quilt shop hop.  See?  I told you I was busy.  More to come and photos soon!  If you're in the PA area, come see me at the craft show at the American Legion hall on East 5th Street in East Stroudsburg, Saturday, November 15, 2014.  I think it starts at 10.  Proceeds benefit Relay for Life.