Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Little Sewing Project - Sewitgirl's Tea Wallet

Finding exactly the right gift for someone is total bliss for me. My middle sister is a good ol' Lipton Tea drinker who carries tea bags around in her purse. She was whipping out tea bags everywhere we went when we were visiting our baby sister in Oregon last year. So when I saw the Tea Wallet Tutorial by Zoe at, I had to make it for her birthday gift.

Here is the dramatic unfolding of the finished tea wallet ...

Is this not the cutest thing for traveling tea drinkers? I did make some adjustments to the cutting measurements and directions after reading comments on the post and found this to be most helpful …

Great design, Zoe, and thanks so much for sharing it!

I am also very happy with the KAMsnaps pliers kit I got from Amazon. The sweet plastic orange snap was the perfect finish to this tea wallet.

So many projects, never enough time ...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Unsinkable Quilt

Baby quilts are just plain fun to make! With a new great-niece expected to make an appearance in August, a few months ago I started planning a special quilt for her. And with Molly Brown as the name of the baby-to-be, I just had to design an Unsinkable Quilt.

Starting with some sweet charm squares -- Bartholo-meow's Reef by Tim and Beck for Moda -- I laid out a simple design. The charm squares are nautical in theme with the cutest anchors, fish, stars and waves. I added bright white sashing to make the colors pop and decided to embroider the year, baby's name and Unsinkable in the three panels.

A few years ago, Hubby mounted a curtain rod over the closet door in my crafting studio and I hung a flannel-backed tablecloth from it to use as a design wall. It's pretty handy because I can take it down or slide it to the side when necessary. 

Sewing each row together is easy when it's all laid out on the wall. And even though I was still fussing with and rearranging the charm squares until the last minute, it helps keep everything in the proper order. I also like to take pictures of the layout to reference just in case I get turned around.

I've tried spray basting but I really find the process of pin basting the quilt layers together to be soothing and satisfying. It's a zen place for me.

The actual machine quilting, not so much. 

Another part of the process I really enjoy, though, is making quilt binding. I could cut, press and roll binding all day long. Makes me happy!

I love the way the backing and outer border fabric resemble water. I found this fabric and the orange dot binding at Jo-Ann's.

One last thing was putting a label on the quilt. In keeping with the Unsinkable theme, I embroidered a boat on the label and "With Love from Aunt Janie." I like to use scraps of the leftover quilt fabric to frame the label. Here is my method for making quilt labels. 

The quilt reached the Browns exactly one week before Molly's appearance.

Welcome to the world, baby girl … we're so pleased to meet you!

Molly's Unsinkable Quilt pattern is a free download on my Craftsy page.

So many projects, never enough time ...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Melody Rose Pillow Quilt

There are two things you should know about this quilt … 

1) It's the first quilt I ever made and 
2) It was created for my beautiful great-niece who turns 2-years-old today.

After my interest in sewing and embroidery had been revived, the birth of this wonderful child seemed like the perfect time to try my hand at quilting. I wanted to make something girly and sweet for her and planned to start with a center square embroidered with her name and birth year.

Which was a terrific idea, in theory, until I added the lace and the square puckered. *sigh* 

Which led to my Hubby's brilliant solution of turning the center square into a stuffed pillow to lay her little head on. I love that man!

I made a small pillow back, leaving an opening for stuffing, and hand-stitched it onto the back of the square …

Stuffed it with polyfill and whip stitched the opening shut …

From that point on, I cut and seamed patchwork, learning as I went about joining seams and pressing. I made 5" squares and have been in love with charm squares ever since.

Adding borders, quilting, making and attaching binding -- I even ordered a special walking foot for my 1969 Bernina 707 that has been invaluable ...

The finished quilt has this puffy little pillow in the center …

And an embroidered quilt label on the back …

Aunt Janie loves you, Melody Rose … Happy 2nd Birthday!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Burrito Lasagna :: from Cookies and Cups

I love to cook and bake, read cooking blogs and magazines, watch a lot of the cooking competitions, own well over 200 cookbooks and I work in a wonderful retail kitchenware | cooking store. And I'm always looking for great new recipes to try ...

So this morning when I saw Cookies and Cup's Burrito Lasagna recipe, I drooled, made up my grocery list and put together the dish for dinner tonight. It's easy to make, delicious and will feed a small army. I used a pound each of ground beef and ground turkey in ours. It's a thing of beauty in my big Emile Henry lasagna dish.

Shelly at Cookies and Cups specializes in sweets and desserts but, boy howdy, every now and again she thrills me with something dinnerish. This dish was amazing and I highly recommend that you visit her lovely blog and see what's cooking.

Shelly, my family thanks you for the inspiration and full bellies!

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Peach Kuchen Recipe

Sweets are my favorite thing in the world and I've always loved to bake. It's so satisfying to make something with your own two hands that makes the lucky taster say, "Yuuuuummmmmm..." and roll their eyes in bliss.

I was chatting with a friend about springform pans and remembered a great recipe that I haven't made for a few years. It is so easy to make, looks beautiful and tastes fantastic. Kuchen is the German word for cake and this particular version is a very pie-like pastry. The one special piece of equipment you need is a 9" springform pan, which is a 2-piece pan where the side snaps shut and the bottom is removable. The silver you can see underneath the kuchen in the photo is the bottom of the pan. It's a great dessert to make for company ... if you decide to share!

Peach Kuchen

serves 8

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
8 peach halves, canned (29 oz. can, drained) or fresh
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9" round springform pan.

Put flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together into mixing bowl. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter to consistency of cornmeal. Sprinkle mixture into prepared pan and press into place against sides and bottom with knuckles.

Place peaches, cut side down, over dough. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over peach halves. Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine egg yolks and cream in small bowl; pour over peaches and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until browned. Cool in pan. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

And in the category of You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks, one thing I'd never made before in all my many baking years is soufflé. Not withstanding how utterly amazing it looks all steamy and puffed up right out of the oven, it even sounds intimidating. Slap on your beret and say it with me in your best snooty French accent: "Soooooooflaaaaaay!" 

Well, I took the Soufflé Workshop at Sur La Table recently ~ So Much Fun ~ and, people, I no longer fear the soufflé. 

In fact, the very next evening, I made lemon soufflé with raspberry cream for my hubby of 28+ years and he said to me, "If we weren't already married, I would propose to you right now." Now that's what I'm talking about!

Happy baking!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Happy Little Sewing Project - Dog Under My Desk's Circle Zip Earbud Pouch

If you can have a crush on a sewing project, then I am totally going steady with Dog Under My Desk's Circle Zip Earbud Pouch! This has been my absolute favorite thing to sew recently and I am now covertly watching friends and family members to see who uses earbuds.

First, I made a black & white zebra striped case with red polka dot lining for the granddaughter ..

Because I'm working on a 45-year-old Bernina sewing machine, I've had to make a few adjustments to the instructions. Ashley's had a layer of flannel to pad the case and I really struggled to top stitch around the edge of the case -- obviously. 

I made another one the next day for my youngest daughter. I could not make it all the way around on the top stitching. My machine just doesn't have enough clearance under the foot to go over all of the layers.

And I would suggest that you not try to quickly make one while getting ready for work, eating breakfast, making lunch, putting on makeup, etc., because you know, The Hurrier You Go 

The odds go up that you'll put the bottom on upside down so the lining is on the outside. Ahem, lesson learned.

The next one was made to match a tote bag given to a friend in January 

On this one, I switched from flannel padding to fusible interfacing (Pellon 809 Décor Bond), which I ironed on to the outer fabric. I also tried using my serger to finish the inside seam but didn't like the way it worked enough to do it again.

One trick I've found is to use a plastic lid to trace the 4-1/2" circles for the pattern. Many of the food containers we buy -- pretzels, nuts, candy, peanut butter -- come with a 4-1/2" lid. You can use a small rotary cutter to cut out the pieces around the lid.

However, what works best for me is to double my piece of outer fabric, lay the lid on top and draw around it with a chalk pencil, pin the two layers together, then cut them out with pinking shears just outside the drawn line. Do the same with the lining fabric. 

And again with the fusible interfacing but cut with regular fabric scissors right on the line. This makes the interfacing circles slightly smaller than the fabric circles and helps reduce bulk in the seams.
Iron the interfacing circles to the outer fabric circles before cutting the top piece in half. 

Since the inner seams are pinked, I'm not worried about them fraying and I don't do any top stitching on the outside. I use a wooden turner to really push those seams out and then press them well for a crisp outer edge.

These make the best birthday gifts! The friend I made this one for said she was going to tell her kids this is a coin purse so they'll quit swiping her earbuds (if they can't find them, they can't take them) …

Here's the one I made recently for the granddaughter's friend …

She has a cat named Nana and the kids call me Nana so it was doubly appropriate to make her one with kitty fabric. The lining is black with tiny white polka dots.

You seriously have to make at least one of these cases. Bet you can't make just one. Erin at Dog Under My Desk rocked it with this tutorial but if that wasn't enough to bring on adoration, said Dogs under her desk are 

So many projects, never enough time ...