Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wonky Log Cabin Halloween Quilt

All my Christmas projects are wrapped and delivered. That means I was able to spend my free time this week finishing up my Halloween quilt. Sure, it could have waited a few more months (or 10), but I hate having unfinished projects sitting around. I wanted to get it done before starting something new. I designed the back and got all the quilting done in the past week or so. I love it. Now if it were only October.

For the back I just did three stripes with coordinating fabric and a pumpkin that I designed. I love this part.

The pumpkin is a 20 inch square made up of 1-inch strips cut to different lengths. It was really fun to make once I figured it out. Ryan requested a ghost as well, but I decided that was more work than I wanted to to. Maybe next time.

You can see my the quilting designs really well on the back of the pumpkin. I stitched in the ditch around each of the wonky log cabin squares and each border row. Then I did pebble quilting on all the black.

I went around each circle 2-3 times before moving onto the next one. This quilt is never going to shift. I used 1500 meters of thread to quilt this thing. I watched a tutorial on pebble quilting a while back, and she wasn't kidding when she said you burn through thread.

I really love the way the quilting looks on the borders and the contrast with the straight stitching on the blocks, but I don't think I could stand doing an entire quilt with this method. It was a lot of work.

This quilting phase is starting to become an addiction for me. I am loving it. Maybe I have finally found a hobby I can stick with for more than a month. I have at least six different quilts in the works in my brain. I'm looking forward to getting them started.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Quilt

Five or six years ago I ventured into pieced quilting for the first time. I had done a couple simple quilts before, but my mom always did the hard parts. I was on my own this time. Facing something new, I did what I always do--I checked out a gazillion books from the library and started looking through them. That's how I came across the snowman pattern above. I loved it. I didn't stop to think about how much work it would be or what a nightmare all that applique work was. I jumped right in and went out to buy my fabric. It's been quite a while since I put this quilt together. I pull it out every Christmas and love it, but somewhere along the line I forgot how awful that applique work was. I remembered as I was putting together my most recent Christmas quilt that I just finished up.

I got a great idea from several quilting blogs to have a "design wall" (AKA- the cheapest IKEA sheet I could find that I attached to my wall and pinned fabric to as I designed my quilt). It's a great way to keep everything in order as you are working on a quilt.

The following pictures show my design process for my quilt that I have been working on the past few weeks.

Arranging the fabric in the order I want. (Remember how crowded I am for space? Pixel's kennel seriously cramps my design wall options.)

The fabric is cut and ready to go. This is the order I decided on.

Slowly adding the pieces I will later applique.
All my pieces are now cut and ready to press onto the individual panels.
All pieces are now sewed on. Ready to sew the panels together and add borders.


For the back I added three wonky stars because I love having something to make the back look like more than just an afterthought. I really struggled with how to quilt this considering all the different colors of the quilt and the fact that I was using a mostly solid brown back. I finally decided to quilt it in the color of the front panel. I also decided not to quilt over the applique pieces. It makes the back look a bit funky with the white, blue, green, red and brown thread, but I love the way it turned out on the front.
Here is the link to the designer for the pattern I used:
Holiday Lineup
My quilt is almost the same as hers. I used a few different fabrics for various panels.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Little D's Dino Quilt

I finished Little D's dinosaur quilt yesterday. I really had fun doing it. I decided to lay it out with the four 12 in center squares because I wanted to emphasize the great prints. I love the fabrics. The blue inside border and backing is a soft fuzzy material (not minky, but close).

I had intentions of sewing the binding by hand on this quilt. It sat on my sewing table for almost a week waiting to be bound. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I was dreading it in fact. Finally, yesterday I picked it up and started. After 10 minutes I had only finished a small amount and gave up. I pulled out my stitches and finished it on my machine in 15 minutes. It was definitely worth the time saver and will probably hold up better in the long run, especially since this will belong to a little boy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

One Last Skirt

Here is my last skirt for Miss C for a while. I cut this out more than a month ago, but finally got around to sewing it last week. I ended up making it quite big--it's about 18 inches in length. I plan on her wearing it next year when she is taller. She really doesn't need a new skirt right now.

This skirt is simpler than the previous ones I made (very minimal piecing). The main body of the skirt is 12 inches long. The hem is 2 1/2 inches and the waist is 3 3/4 inches. The width of the floral fabric is 80 inches (two strips of fabric cut edge to edge and sewn together). The hem is 160, twice the skirt (four strips of fabric cut edge to edge).

I added pleats to the hem this time. I divided the skirt and the hem into 1/8s then pinned them together. I pinned the pleats in each individual section (about 6 pleats per section). I didn't measure and wasn't exact, but it was close enough. It turned out really cute.

Lately, I have been adding one extra detail on the waistband. I sew an extra seam about 1/8 inch from the top. It adds a puckered look to the waist. I think it gives it a bit more finished look.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quilting--My newest project fad

A little girl can definitely have too many skirts. Miss C and Miss A's closets are filling up with lots of cute skirts. I decided I need to move on to a new project fad. As I am still addicted to shopping for and buying fabric, I decided my newest fad needs to be fabric related.

Here are the newest fabric lines that I need to find projects for. Make sure you scroll down because it just keeps getting cuter:

Animal Alphabet

I started looking at quilting sites yesterday, and it really made me want to make a quilt. I haven't made a quilt in years. The problem is I hate hand quilting. It is probably one of my least favorite crafting activity that exists. It even beats out crochet which I despise because I have tried many times and just can't do it. Some things just aren't made for left-handed people.

I love the look of machine quilting, but wasn't willing to pay someone to do the quilting for me. I always thought you had to have one of those huge machines from the sewing shop to get those fun wavy lines and the puffy aged quilt look. Then I came across this post:

Crazy Mom Quilts

I realized I have a darning foot for my sewing machine, and I can actually do this on my machine. I felt a little silly. I have all these accessories to my machine, but have no idea what to do with them. I was really excited. I watched a few more u-tube videos to learn more and then decided to jump right it.

A while back I bought some sheets for Miss C, but didn't need the fitted sheets so I decided to cut off the edges and make a simple quilt with them. It has been sitting in the corner, basted together for months. I just didn't want to face quilting it. I even thought about just throwing it away and giving up. What a perfect project to practice free motion quilting on! Miss C could care less how the quilting looks, and it's all ready to go. I really had fun trying. I ran out of thread about 2/3's of the way through so I'm not quite finished. I decided I definitely need quilting gloves as it's hard to hold the fabric and quilt smoothly. Other than that, I just need more practice. I spent about an hour this afternoon working on the quilt and feel a lot more comfortable doing it already. It's just tricky to move smoothly at a consistent speed.

My next project is a quilt for Little D with the dinosaur fabric I bought a while back. I'm onto my new project fad. You can always use a few more quilts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Miss C's New House

A couple weeks ago, I made myself a promise that I wouldn't come up with any new projects until I cleaned off all the ones currently on my sewing table. Well, that didn't work out as I planned. I have wanted to make Miss C a playhouse to fit over our kitchen table for quite sometime. I just lacked inspiration. I came across this blog post and wanted to start immediately:

Homemade by Jill

I started making my sketches right away (which I will post soon once I redraw them to be legible). I also checked Joann's, and they had felt for $2.99 a yard. I went over there the same afternoon and stocked up. This was honestly a very simple project, and I really had fun doing it. It took me about 2 1/2 hours to cut everything out and I sewed it all together during two different naps and one evening--probably about 6 hours total. I have more ideas to add, but figured I'd let Miss C play in it in the meantime. I plan to add a garden of flowers in front under the window as well as on one side. I will sew stems on the felt and then make felt flower that velcro onto the house. I also want to make a rug for it as well so she isn't playing on our dirty floor.

I just used a cut up diaper box to prop the roof. I need to find a bigger box and cut it more accurately, but this works for now.

To make the bushes puff out a bit, I sewed small pleats around the edges and stuffed them with a few scraps of felt.
I sewed a seam up the middle of the window box, but will probably do a couple more seams. The flowers fall out too easily.

The mailbox was a hit.

Here is Miss C demonstrating how the mailbox works.
And Miss C showing how the front door works:

One negative is that I discovered that felt stretches a lot. Miss C has already stretched out the window panes of one window when she tried to climb in that way while I was inside her house. I can tell it's going to take a beating, but I think it was worth the work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Photography Fieldtrip

This morning I headed out to take pictures. I was supposed to go on Saturday with my sister, but we were rained out. I needed to scope out some areas for an engagement shoot this weekend and decided to get some practice as well. Ryan was wonderful and took a few hours off work this morning so I could go. I left at 6:30. When I got home at 10:00 he had Miss A in bed, Miss C in quiet time, Little D was calm in the swing and the dishwasher was unloaded. What a great dad! I had a wonderful time and learned a ton. I always learn from my mistakes while I'm out shooting. I really wanted to get some practice after taking a photography class a few weeks ago. It motivated me to become a better photographer. I chose Temple Square this morning because I had some good subjects to shoot. I also wanted to try recreating some of the photos our class instructor has shot. I find for me it's much easier to learn when I first try to recreate something someone else has done. Then I feel more capable to try my own stuff.

All the kiddos have been cooperative around here this afternoon, and I have had the past hour to sort my photos and play with them in Photoshop. I also tried out a few Photoshop techniques we discussed in my class that I haven't really used before. Here are my favorites.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Miss C's New Skirt

I'm finally starting to have some free time again which I love. A few times a week the kids all nap at the same time. The majority of the time they are all in bed by 8:30 which all means I have time for projects again. My most recent project was making a skirt for Miss C. I had seen a similar one on a blog and wanted to make one. I'm pretty pleased with the results considering I had no pattern to go from. I went fabric shopping over the weekend. I love going to little quilt shops. They have the most wonderful fabrics. It made me want to make a quilt. I bought the fabric for her skirt and couldn't wait to start. Amazingly, I finished this skirt, start to finish, yesterday. I cut it out in the morning when they were all awake and sewed it during naptime and after they went to bed. It was so simple, and I love it. I saw the greatest Christmas fabric that I'm really tempted to go back for. She can't have too many skirts, right?

This is what happens when you try to get a two-year-old to pose.

Fall Patchwork Skirt

Here is my latest version of the skirts I have been making.  I made this for my niece who is just six months older than Miss C.  I love this fabric and think it's so fun for fall.  I am making my skirts much fuller than I did at first.  This skirt has about a 27 inch waistband and the circumference of the skirt is 120 inches.  The finished size of each square is 5 inches with 24 squares in each row.  The hem is about 2 1/2  inches and the waistband is about 4 or 5.  The length is about 17 inches.  The patchwork style is definitely more work, but it works so great with these fabrics.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


For years now I have wanted to make my own vanilla. The cost always prevented me. I couldn't justify paying $8 to $10 in the grocery store for two vanilla beans when you needs lots more to make good extract. But then I discovered the beauty of online vanilla bean dealers. You can get a lot more for your money. I'm not exactly a vanilla bean expert, but I think the ones I got were pretty good. Their flavor seems a bit on the mild side, and it took 4 or 5 beans to get a batch of frosting flavored the way I wanted it, but I paid the same amount for 1 1/4 lbs of beans that I would pay in the grocery store for 6 beans.

So I ordered my beans, but to make the extract you need vodka. I sent Ryan to the liquor store on a Friday night to buy me vodka. We learned that Friday night is not the night to visit the liquor store if you are new at this whole buying liquor thing. We aren't exactly heavy drinkers around here, and the liquor store is packed on Friday nights. He made it home with 1.75 liters of vodka. We were just going to get a pint, but I have a lot of vanilla beans to use.

Here are my beans when they arrived. I bought 1 lb of Madagascar beans and got 1/4 lb of Tahitian beans for free.
The spoils of Ryan's visit to the liquor store.
If you have used vanilla beans before, you know they are strange little suckers.
To get to the good part, you slice them open and scrape out the guts or caviar.

This is about how many beans I put in 3 cups of vodka. I sliced each bean open and then cut them in half.
We're experimenting with flavors. I am making 1 cup of extract with the Tahitian beans, 1 cup with a mixture of beans, and the remainder with the Madagascar beans.
The are many different sites devoted to vanilla making which recommended anywhere from 6 beans per pint to 30. I used lots of beans because I want a very strong extract. Besides, there are only so many things you can do with vanilla beans, and I have lots of beans. They only last about a year.
This is the color of the alcohol after one day. We did this about a week ago, and the alcohol is almost black now.
These guys are hanging out in our storage room right now. They need a cool, dark place for the best results. I shake each jar once a day to help with the extraction process. It will take 4-6 months for full flavor--just in time for Christmas presents. I even found great little amber colored 2 oz and 4 oz bottles to put this in when it's ready. Now I just have to make a label.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have missed getting out and taking pictures lately. I have also really missed my Photoshop time to work on them. I used to work on photos in the evenings often between 8 and 10 p.m. I am now in bed at that time and have really missed doing my stuff during those hours. I had a few free minutes today and got outside to take some pictures of the only blooming things in our yard--weeds. Close up they actually look pretty.