The Sunshine Tote

Patchwork Tote
Sunshine Tote
My sister asked for a tote bag to give as a part of a gift basket. Her husband's aunt is going through a tough time and she wants to make a care basket with some fruit and wine in it to give away so she asked me for a bag to put those things in.

I've been toying with tone-on-tone quilt squares lately so I thought I would take some of the extra quilt squares to make her bag.  Of all the color combinations I've been working with, I really liked the turquoise color scheme.  So I did some patchwork and turned it into a pretty large tote.  I planned on leaving it at that and calling it a basket but it just didn't look complete. So I added the handle with some buttons for an accent to turn the bag from a basket to a tote.

Even though I added some craft-weight interfacing to the bag, I wanted a little extra support so I covered a 4" x 10" piece of sturdy cardboard with some fabric and placed it in the bottom of the bag. That did the trick! I also left some room between the handle placement and the top of the bag to flip the opening up or down depending on how full the bag gets.

If my sister likes it, I think I will make more in different color schemes. I am calling it the Sunshine Tote since that is really its purpose. I might even make a tutorial out of it.  Hopefully it will bring the cheer that my sister wants to provide to her aunt.


Banana Bread
Banana Bread
I found a great banana bread recipe on Food Network's website.  I read the reviews for it and I have to say,  I get annoyed by what I read sometimes in those reviews. Some of the people who reviewed the recipe stated that they changed the ingredients to something totally different or added more or less than what is called for and then they gave the recipe a bad review. I wonder if it ever occurs to them that their version sucked because they didn't follow the recipe! I just don't understand.

I do have to admit though that I followed the recipe exactly and found this banana bread perfect. It wasn't all crusty and dried out like other versions I've tried. It was moist and very flavorful.  I think it was the cinnamon which is something I don't remember ever using in other recipes and the fact that you have to make sure you don't overbeat the batter. However, I did wish it had nuts. So this time I made it and added a handful of chopped walnuts.  To me, it did make the banana bread better.  So if you like nuts, that is the only suggestion I have to complement this recipe. So I did change things but not not until I tried it exactly as printed. :-) So here is the wonderful original recipe from the Food Network website:

Banana Bread
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 - inch loaf pan.
Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add the dry ingredients, mixing just until the flour is incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the bread pan and invert onto rack to cool completely before slicing.
Spread slices with honey or top with ice cream.

If you want to see the original recipe, just click here.


Recycled Wine Bottle Garden Border

I've been saving wine bottles for a very long time. I have a large plastic garbage can that I've been filling with the bottles over the past year and now the can is full. I have to do something with them in order to continue to collect more.  I really don't have the room to fill another garbage can so I decided to make a border next to the sidewalk at the back of the house.  My fear is that in winter while shoveling I might hit the bottles and break them but we rarely shovel that walk so maybe it will be ok.

Since it's been raining a lot the ground is nice and soft so it was easy to dig a little trench.  I set the bottles at random in the little trench then pounded them in with a rubber mallet. Then I filled the dirt back in between the bottles.  It was fun to read the labels and surprisingly, I remember where and when we drank the wine. It was like a trip down memory lane making it so much fun to install each bottle.
Wine bottle garden border
Wine Bottle Garden Border
Surprisingly, the giant bin of bottles didn't go as far as I thought they would so I guess we will have to work on filling it back up again.


Patchwork Kitchen Curtains

Kitchen Curtains
Patchwork Curtains
Last week I took down my kitchen curtains to wash both the window and the curtains.  Once the curtains came out of the dryer I realized how faded they were and how much I disliked them.  They were once popular and in style but they've been hanging in my kitchen for almost 10 years now.  I was not going to put them back up.

I do like quality things that last but the reality is that taking on one room at a time means that it takes a while to get around to redoing things since there are 11 rooms in this house.  That's my best excuse. But it is time for a kitchen re-do.  Sadly and tragically, my painter committed suicide this spring.  He was a sweet and sensitive young man who was somewhat troubled.  I will miss him terribly not only for his painting skills but for the friendship and companionship he brought me while he worked here.

While I ponder how to go about finding another painter, the least I can do is make some new kitchen curtains. I don't want to spend a lot of money on replacements since I'm not totally ready to do a total re-do of the kitchen. So I went through my stash and pulled out some pretty yellows as well as a piece of muslin to use as backing.  

I washed and ironed my fabrics and cut 8 and a half inch squares. I used that size based on the width of the muslin that I was using for the lining.  I decided to leave the selvages on the muslin to give the lining a finished edge without any sewing.  I made two panels using 30 of the 8 and a half-inch squares (6 rows of 5 squares) for each panel totaling 60 squares. I had a large chunk of pretty flowered yellow fabric so I also made a 5 and a half-inch border along the bottom to tie the look of the squares together. Then I made a valence using 3-inch squares of the leftover fabric with a border of the same yellow fabric.  Once the squares were sewn together, I stitched the lining to the panels and made a casing to hang them.  

This was a quick and easy project that took very little time, no pattern or instructions, just a few math skills to make sure I had panels the right size to cover the window.  The yellow grosgrain ribbon I used to tie the curtains back were in use on the curtains I took down so I did recycle a small part of my old curtains. I like the fresh look they give my kitchen.  


Sweet Sundays Quilters - Patriotic Quilt Completed

I meet with a wonderful group of ladies from my church 2 Wednesday afternoons a month and we sew.  We make quilts to be donated to various groups that need them.  One of the places we take the quilts is our local VA hospital. So we make them in patriotic colors and masculine prints.

Besides bed quilts, we make lap quilts for wheelchair patients. I've made 3 lap quilts so far this year, and did not photograph any of them! Oh well.

This quilt is a simple one, as most of our donated ones are. It's not that I wouldn't make fancier quilts for donation, but we are going for quantity so we have to get them done rather quickly. Our group leader calls them utility quilts so they are made of leftovers, recycles, everything that we can match up and turn into something usable. The people who receive them are very appreciative and that is all that counts.


Quilts for Kids - Modern Bicycle Quilt

I grabbed a huge chunk of this cute pink bicycle fabric at a Quilts for Kids meeting a while ago. I decided to use it as a feature fabric and framed it with some pink solid.  It was a simple design that used up large blocks of the fabric.

After the top was done, I still had enough left to use as the backing for the quilt. I added a pink strip to the back to add interest.

I quilted the layers together with straight line machine quilting and added the label.  It's ready to be turned in at next Quilt for Kids meeting.


Tiny Treat Totes
Tiny Treats Totes
I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be making more of these little treat bags. I have plenty of foodie fabric on hand for quite some time so it was fun to finally use it up. The download for the pattern and instructions can be found here.


Quilts for Kids - Charm Square Baby Quilt

A few months ago I took a stack of charm squares from the Quilts for Kids fabric stash. It was really cute children's fabric however there is a limited number of the squares making it a difficult to figure out how to use them.

While looking through one of my charm square books, I found a pattern that works perfectly. And I had just enough charms to make it work. The book is called 3 Times the Charm Book Two and it has lots of great ideas for using charm squares.

All I needed to get was some fabric in solid colors to accent the charm squares and for the backing.

It was a quick and easy project that I finished in two days. After adding a label, it's ready for donation to Quilts for Kids.
Quilts for Kids

Quilts for Kids


Ron Swanson Quilt - Completed

Happy Zombie Quilt Along
Ron Swanson Quilt
I finished the binding on the Ron Swanson quilt today. It was a sunny 84 degrees this afternoon; a perfect time to sit outside and hand stitch. Although I do admit that having the quilt on my lap was making me a little warm. I used a polyester-cotton blend for the batting on this one which made it considerably lighter than one made with Warm 'N Natural batting so I really should not complain. I know a lot of people don't care for the poly-blend battings, but I find that when I am working on something that is not very practical, the poly-blend works just fine.  In fact, I like the loftier yet lighter feel of it when working on something like this that will probably spend more time hanging on a wall than on a lap.  But we shall see, it might be just as nice on a lap too!

I was inspired by a comment my nephew, Jason made regarding the quilt when I posted the WIP on Facebook. He used a Ron Swanson quote to compliment my work so I turned that into a block on the back of the quilt.  Thank you, Jason.


Grab Bags
Grab Bag
I found this nice pattern on the website last week.  I like how the single handle works by sliding the long handle through the short handle to cinch the bag closed.  And there are 6 inside pockets in the bags, three on each side making it a great bag for keeping organized.

It was fun to mix and match fabrics to create these and I completed all four during two morning sewing sessions.  The pattern and instructions can be found here. The instructions call for thin quilt batting or craft fleece but I used heavy craft interfacing which keeps the bag's nicely rounded shape. The instructions are easy to follow, even though the completing the handle is a little tricky.
all people quilt
Grab Bag


Making Fabric Labels

Iron-On transfers
I am a whiz with a word processing program. I took the time to make some templates in MS Word so I could easily print out fabric labels at my convenience.  As it turned out, it wasn't as easy as I thought.

Making the square fabric labels is pretty easy. First, I insert a table in Word, then enter the text for my label and add a little graphic.  In the cell of the table, I then manipulate the text to the desired font and font size then center the text and graphic at the same time.  After that, I copy and paste the cell into all the other cells. Using the borders and shading option, I make a cute little frame around them, then made the cell borders invisible and then they were ready to print.

In order to print them on fabric, I use a laminated sheet of eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper.  Since I am too frugal to actually buy it, I made the laminated sheet by putting strips of packing tape on the paper.  It was nice and stiff and slippery. I then cut a piece of muslin a little smaller than the fake laminated paper and using masking tape, I secured it to the sheet.  Then I just ran it through the printer. I did have to give it a little shove since it was somewhat thick.  After I let it dry for a few minutes, I took the muslin off the sheet and applied Heat N Bond lite to the back and cut the labels out.

I use my old rotary cutter for all these paper cutting projects, so I don't ruin the blade on the rotary cutter I use for fabric. Ok, so this was much more putzy than I thought it would be.

I then attempted something new.  Iron-on t-shirt transfer sheets. Again, with the Word program, I made a table and added my name and logo and saved the file. All I had to do then is use the mirror setting on my advanced printer settings to print out the labels on the t-shirt transfer sheet.  Only one Canon ip4200 does not have a mirror image setting. Crap! I thought I would try using my husband's all-purpose printer.  Since we are all networked together, this would be easy to accomplish.  I just had to choose his printer from my list of available printers and open the advanced settings and viola! - there it was, the mirror image setting. Hooray - progress.

Of course, I would print out a sample sheet on plain paper to make sure it was going to work before using up a sheet of expensive t-shirt transfer stuff.  But wouldn't you know it - his printer was out of ink. Grrrrr! So he generously ran out to Sam's Club and bought more ink confessing that he should have done this quite a while ago.

I admit it's a little frustrating when I'm gung-ho on getting a specific task done. Even though I can fill my time with plenty of other little projects, I really wanted to get this one done. Once the ink cartridge was replaced, it worked like a charm.  I printed my page of mirror image labels and ironed a few on the twill tape I bought just for this project.

They turned out great!