Category Archives: craft

Quilt Gift

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Last weekend, I finished one of my first “commissioned” quilts.  This quilt was for a husband and dad’s 40th birthday present.  The quilt design and color was centered around the high school letter that never made it onto a jacket.  So, this inspiration guided the selection of the fabrics and the style of the quilt.  Here’s the journey from drawing to fabric to quilt:

I pencilled this quilt out a few weeks prior to get the approval of the customer.  It is always hard to get my ideas on to paper, but once I do it moves the creative process along quite quickly.  My initial design is below which I changed slightly as I purchased the fabric, worked the blocks and figured out the sizing.  I ended up going five blocks down rather than four because it just looked better to the eye.

Initial Design

One of my favorite things to add to add quilt is a border and stripes.  I never know exactly what border will look right until I get the main part of the quilt complete and have the fabrics all in front of me.  The final design with the stripes changed slightly, but they are still there.

Dimensions

I decided to start this quilt with 4 1/2″ squares when sewn together in blocks of 9 would make a full 12″ block.  You can see my ever present companion (Baja) below the table.

The Beginning...4 1/2" Squares Sewn Together

Sewing the blocks together and creating the main portion of the quilt.  Once these blocks come together, the quilt gets pretty large and a little hard to manage.  The key in getting the corners and lines to match up is pinning.  Yes, it pays off to pin things.  I used to skip this step, but would always regret it!  PIN IT!

Sewing Blocks Together

The addition of the personal touches like this high school letter is when the quilt design really started to take shape.  It is when the concept on paper and the reality of what is sitting in front of you starts to move into what looks right now that you can see it right in front of you.  I used a blanket stitch with green matching thread to stick the letter on the quilt top.

High School Letter

So, here’s my secret to getting the perfect letters.  It is probably not a secret to many, but I discovered it a few years ago when trying to figure out how to get perfect quilt letters.  I just use Microsoft Word to locate the type of font I want and the size.  I print out the letters that I want to use in the correct size.  I then use these letters to trace onto the fabric adhesive.  There are several different products out there to use:  Steam A Seam, Heat and Bond, Pellon, etc.  They all work well, but try different types out and use what you like the best.  Make sure it is two sided adhesive and not one sided.  Otherwise, you will be unhappy!

Font for Lettering - My Trick

Once the letters are all cut out and ready to go, I sew them on to the base fabric using my favorite blanket stitch with matching thread.  This is something that you will get better at over time.  One thing that you will want to play with is the size of the stitch and the tension in your bobbin.  If you see your thread from below peaking through, your tension is too tight.  I first attached these letters with a blanket stitch and then went back over the letters after the quilt was complete and washed with a decorative stitch.  It created a nice effect on the letters that allowed them to standout.  Oh, and make sure you change presser feet before you start the blanket stitch….or, you will break a needle.  Trust me…I know.  I broke two last weekend.

Sewing on the Letters

Here is the actual quilting in progress (after the back of the quilt and batting have been assembled with my preferred method of spray glue basting).  One of my favorite parts…the part that makes a quilt A QUILT!  I used just a meandering stipple pattern done freehand.  I drop the feed dogs, adjust the tension, change the foot and go for it.  Check the back of the quilt occasionally to make sure your tension is correct; you will have to adjust if you start sewing fast as it will pull a bit.  Just keep an eye on it and adjust as needed.

Quilting

Here is the final quilt.  You will notice that the stripes made it to the binding on the quilt.  I love the effect.  I debated whether adding another border, but liked this look so much that I kept it like this.  I quilted using a silver grey thread on front and a black thread on back.  The back of the quilt has a brushed cotton flannel which will be super cozy and warm.  I love to wash my quilts right after they are finished so that they shrink up, become cuddly and are nice and soft.  Also, if you have done some applique, you can check to make sure you don’t have any places where you need to go back and touch up.

Quilt Front

Here is a close up of the letters.  Notice the decorative stitch that I used on the blocks that the letters sit on.  And, how the letters puff out a bit.  That is a result of coming back after washing the quilt and sewing around the letters a second time.  You can also notice how the quilt shrinks up and gets a little “wrinkly” after washed.  I like this look…

Quilt Detail...Lettering

Close up of the message on the back of the quilt…I should have gotten a better picture.  I had embroidered this on the back of the quilt with cotton thread.

Quilt Back - Message

I used left over binding to tie up the quilt into a perfect package.

Quilt Package - Ready to Give

The quilt was delivered the next day and I hear that it was well received.  In fact, it was given a few days in advance to the birthday boy because they couldn’t wait!  Always, good to hear.

If you are interested in a custom quilt, go to my etsy page to see the options.

Happy Day!

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Spring in February ?

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I do really enjoy flowers and gardening.  I haven’t really had much time of late, but I do often gaze into the yard.  Our new house has a great yard with lots of flowering plants that I love.  I keep thinking of all the tiny additions I could add to make it even more colorful.  The great thing is that all the hard part is done; all it needs is some small pops of color here and there, a little green thumb and some time.  It’s on the list of things to do for the spring.

For now, here are a few shots of spring in the making:

The orchid tree … I have always admired these trees, but never had the pleasure of having them in my yard.  They have these great double leaves and beautiful blooming flowers that resemble an orchid.

 

Next is the sweet pea bush which I have always like because of the texture of the leaves and the great sweet pea “like” purpose flowers….it is a great shrub.

 

Last and definitely not least is the wall of jasmine that is about to burst into bloom in the next few weeks.  You can see all of the pink buds in this photo which will all turn into beautiful spidery white flowers in the next few weeks with an amazing fragrance.

 

I also have a shade area that has beautiful ferns that I love because they are so delicate.

As I am uploading all these images, I am thinking about the other things that I haven’t shared….the bloom calla lilies, the gardenias, the azaleas, the lavendar and my favorite tipu trees (tipuana).

No instructions, nothing to do…just enjoy the photos.   🙂

Valentine’s Day Marshmallows & A “Little” Sewing (Kind of)

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Sunday of last weekend was all about creating; creating with someone who wanted to spend ALL DAY making one thing after another.  “After we finish this, do you think we could make something else.”  So sweet…my 6 year old niece.  What I didn’t expect was to become sick (and I mean really sick) that night with the 48 hour stomach flu.  I haven’t been that sick in over 15 years.  So, this post is a recap of last Sunday’s fun events (minus the sickness!).

First, we set out on making chocolate dipped marshmallows with a Valentine’s Day theme.  Yeah, I know…over 20 days away, but still fun to have a theme.  These are super simple and easy to do.  First, I would prep the work space if you are going to make this a kid project.  I taped wax paper / freezer paper to the counter (shiny side up) and pulled up the stool.  I would also use small bowls to set up the different sprinkles for dipping rather than sprinkling onto the chocolate.  Dipping is easier (and less messy) than shaking the sprinkles out of a container.

 

Supplies you will need:

Steps:

  • Place a Candy Stick in Each Marshmallow and set them out ready to go.
  • Melt the chocolate
  • Start Dipping – Either dip just the end or swirl and get the entire thing.
  • Dip into whatever sprinkles you want.
  • Set the dipped marshmallows onto the wax paper (stick up) to dry.
  • The chocolate will set up and dry within 15 minutes.
  • At the end, I swirled the red and white chocolate together to make an interesting effect.

 

 

 

Packaging

  • My niece had the best idea to use the cone shaped plastic pastry bags in my drawer to make small bouquets out of a few of the marshmallows together.
  • We placed them in the bag and wrapped a bow around them.
  • You could also do singles with a bow tied on them and give them as cute gifts to accompany a Valentine’s Day Card.

 

All ready for delivery….she wanted to stop at every neighbor’s house along the way home to drop off a little gift.  And, last but not least, we sewed her first project.  It was a small little bag that came ready to make with her new sewing machine.  The funny part was that her new sewing machine was a bit difficult to operate and so I had to break out the instructions.  At some point, she instructed to me that this was very boring and can’t we just sew.

Needless to say, we sewed her bag using both machines (hers and mine) and had a great time.  Here’s the final result:

I am now feeling much better and hoping to get a few hours of sewing in before the end of this day is over even though I should really clean the house, knock out the piles of laundry, do some work….

Pantry Door Menu Board – Update

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I updated the pantry board menu project already with some vinyl letters.  You can see the original post here.

I added vinyl adhesive letters using my new Cricut machine which I am learning to use.  It was a Christmas present from my husband.  I can’t wait to start using it more.  For now, I am dabbling.  Here’s the update photo:

 

The menu is already set for next week and the shopping is done.  Maybe I will start sharing recipes next week…I am going for simple and quick but fresh.  So far, so good.  We tried four new recipes last week and all were winners.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies….Because they are the best!!

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So, I found this recipe some years ago and I must make it every year.  It is the best.  Try It.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour until well blended. Chill the dough for 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/3 at a time to 1/8 inch thickness, refrigerating remaining dough until ready to use. Cut into desired shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until light and golden brown. Cool cookies completely before frosting.

Tips

  • Make sure that you chill the dough.  It will keep for up to a week.  I wrap mine in plastic wrap in a large ball.
  • Do NOT overcook these cookies.  They will not seem done … do not worry!  They should only get a slight tint of color.
  • Use lots of frosting…I used the simple frosting right out of the squeeze bottle (Michael’s) this year for the first time.  It is quick and simple.  But, I really prefer using homemade frosting from scratch and taking my time.  But, time was not on my side so I did what I had to.
  • Eat a lot of these….(and then workout)

Sugar Scrub Scrub Scrub

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One of my goals this year was to make handmade gifts.  Well, I didn’t make every gift by hand, but I tried.  I baked my heart out and packaged up at least 15 plates of cookies and yummy holiday treats.  And, when I was done with that, I decided to try my hand at making some sugar scrub.  I love this type of body scrub and I was first introduced to it from L’Occitane.  No doubt, this scrub is amazing and I love it.  However, it is a bit pricey and I use it a lot!  Then, thanks to pinterest, I saw that people were making their own scrub.  So, I did my research and checked out a bunch of recipes on line.  Here are a few for reference:

So, with my research behind me, I decided to go at it alone and started mixing in the kitchen.  I decided upon a sugar scrub to start using olive oil.  I first was going to use essential oils, but then decided against it once I realized that I couldn’t taste it.  I know this sounds crazy, but when you are mixing oil and sugar it seems to me that you should be able to taste it.  And, adding essential oils made it not to tasty.  I know…weird, but I didn’t like the idea of adding an oil that smelled like perfume.  I went all natural with the ingredients and decided upon two mixes after some trial and error….vanilla sugar scrub and gingerbread sugar scrub.  I took my research into consideration and then did what I wanted.

Vanilla Sugar Scrub

  • 3 Cups plain old white sugar
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil – I used extra light olive oil
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla

Simple as that…just put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix it all together until the sugar is completely saturated.  I decided that I wanted my scrubs to look a bit festive for the season so I split the batch in half and colored half of it with a few drops of red coloring food.  That way, I could make red and white stripes in the container.

Gingerbread Sugar Scrub

  • 3 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves

Same as above…mix all together and it is ready to go.

I had the hardest time finding the containers for the sugar scrub.  I found some glass containers (the last four that were on the shelf) at Michael’s.  These had a screw on top like a mason jar.  And, then I found a set of four at Target that had a clasp top which I loved.  Too bad I didn’t pick up more when I got those.  I went back later to find that they were sold out!!  You want to make sure that the jar has a large enough opening that you can get your hand in to scoop out the scrub and that it is not too deep.  One idea for future batches is to include a cute wooden scoop.  I wonder where I could find those.

Last, but not least was decorating the container.  I choose to do a simple label on the top of the jar that I constructed using craft paper and mod podge.  Believe it or not, this was the first time that I used mod podge and I have to say that I was quite impressed.  I spent the evening making in a mess in my kitchen (again) and I loved it!  I kind of think that mod podge just might be elmer’s glue in a different package.  But, it was fun nonetheless.

Labels & Container Adornment

  • Craft Paper
  • Modge Podge
  • Ribbon (I always like wire ribbon because it holds it’s shape)
  • Foam Paint Brush (small)

 Tips

  • Make sure you wait to add any food coloring in until after the oil is well absorbed into the sugar.
  • Use a small measuring cup to scoop the scrub into the final container.
  • Use a small flexible spatular to pack in the sugar scrub into the container.  It works really well when you are trying to layer colors.
  • Stick with natural ingredients.
  • Be patient and let the mod podge dry … it takes a bit.  Don’t keep touching it like I did.
  • Have fun and be creative.

Happy scrubbing!!

Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas & Pulling Teeth (Literally)

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It was a busy week trying to wrap up all the loose ends at work (as if that is really possible).  I have finally realized that I will never have everything ‘done’ before I take time off at work.  I am either at that point in my career or in my life that I realize it simply isn’t even possible.  Yet, I still try every single time.

It certainly feels like the Christmas season around the house with presents under the tree, the smell of baking and 70 degree weather (yes, southern California is lovely this time of the year).  Although, I wouldn’t mind a chill in the air.

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas…I narrowed down my Christmas decorations this year and really just kept those things that I absolutely loved.  I mean really loved.  Here’s a small sampling of this year’s tree.

The tree skirt is got to be at least 15 years old.  I made it by hand; it was a cross stitch pattern that I probably bought at Michael’s and took a few years to complete.  It needs to be updated I think; maybe a project for next year.  I am thinking it needs some type of quilt backing and an update on the edge ribbon.  We shall see.

I also tried my hand at a few hand made gifts besides the cookie baking and pretzel bag gifts in my previous post…I tried my hand at some homemade sugar scrub.  Stay tuned for that in my next post.

The biggest bummer about this week was that Cali went in to have her teeth cleaned only to come out with 11 teeth extracted.  Now, first, I feel like the biggest jerk dog owner in the world because her teeth were in this condition.  But, second, I signed up for a teeth cleaning, dropped her off and called to get a status only to find out that they removed 11 teeth.  The initial appointment was predicated on a teeth cleaning and maybe having to remove one tooth…NOT 11.  Much to my surprise when I called for her status, I was casually informed that she was doing well and that they had to remove 11 teeth.  My first response was “how many teeth does she have”.  Well, apparently they have 42.  I don’t know about you, but they would never remove 11 teeth out of a human at once.  NEVER.  I am not a happy camper.  I paid for the x-rays so that they could call and tell me ahead of time what the plan was…NOT so that they could remove 11 teeth and tell me after the fact.  They assure me that this is fairly normal and that she will be fine.  I am most unhappy that no one notified me and when I did call, they were so casual about it.  So, I am waiting for her to come home so I can make her feel better…..I feel so bad.  So, so bad.

Sweet Cali - I am so sorry!