Thursday

Mini Log Cabin Blocks

I joined the SewCanShe.com 'It's a New Year Sewalong' and this year's block is the mini log cabin. I made mine from some leftover Sweetwater Noteworthy fabric I had laying around.  These blocks use 1-inch strips so it is easy to find pieces of scraps to use to make the blocks.  Once I made a bunch in a variety of colors I decided to make it into a mini-quilt for my granddaughter's baby doll.  She is one an a half and seems to be in this nurturing phase where all she wants to do is wrap the baby doll in something warm. So now she will have her own little quilt to wrap her doll in.

Saturday

Jelly Roll Jam Quilt

Fat Quarter Shop quilt
I followed the tutorial from the Fat Quarter Shop to make a quilt called Jelly Roll Jam.  It was very easy and quick to make.  All you need is half of a jelly roll to complete.  It's a pretty small quilt which is partly why it's so quick to make.  I used a jelly roll from Sweetwater that I've had sitting on my shelf for a very long time.

The tutorial for this quilt can be found here. I really like the busy look and colors I get from this easy to make pattern and I look forward to making many more. With the right fabric, this would make a perfect baby quilt that can be completed easily in a day.
Fat quarter shop

Tuesday

Postage Stamp Quilt

Scrap Quilt
Postage Stamp Quilt
I decided to do some scrap busting over the holiday week. It seems that once Christmas Day has come to pass everything seems to come to a dead stop. Going from the hustle-bustle days of preparing for Christmas to having absolutely nothing to do is a very tough transition. So I thought I would take advantage of the post-Christmas, pre-New Years Eve time and do some cleaning in my sewing room.  It didn't take long to realize that I had lots and lots of scraps left over from the many quilts I made throughout the year. My scrap basket was overflowing with so many memorable and pretty fabrics that I thought I should try and so something with them.

While watching college football bowl games with my husband, I started to search for new quilt ideas when I came upon the postage stamp quilt by Red Pepper Quilts.  You can find her tutorial here. I quickly took my overflowing scrap basket and dumped it onto my sewing table and started ironing the pieces that were larger than the 2 x 7-inch strips necessary to make the quilt.  During two days of college bowl games - this is my measurement of time, I was certain my husband wouldn't miss my presence as long as he wasn't hungry. And sure enough, I had the peace and quiet to just cut and piece without any interruption. 

Once I had the top completed, I thought it would be difficult to decide on a backing and as I started to go through my stash, a large piece of pretty flowery fabric caught my eye.  It seemed to have most of the colors in the quilt somewhere in the tiny flower designs. Luckily I had enough to do the entire back. I quilted it with some straight line quilting and added chambray fabric for the binding which gives it an interesting contrast.  

I really like how this quilt turned out and I am so excited that I didn't have to buy a single thing to make it.  I even had two spools of variegated thread that went very well with the colors in the quilt.  So this is truly a scrap project and I love all 1,296 squares of it. 

Monday

Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Jam Recipe
Today I made some raspberry jam.  Over the course of the spring and summer I pick raspberries from my back yard. I have a little raspberry patch on the south side of my house and they are plentiful. Usually I get a harvest 2- 3 times per season. When they are ready, I pick the ripe ones daily, wash them and put them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  By the end of the season I end up with so many raspberries in the freezer, they get in the way.

Since today is the day of the deep freeze (it was -17 degrees here in Oak Creek), I am not going anywhere and it feels like a good day to heat up the kitchen. So I thawed the raspberries and made some jam. Here is the recipe I used, however I had to increase the ingredients by two hand a half times due to the large amount of berries I had. I ended up canning 20 jars of jam.

Raspberry Jam 
2 quarts raspberries, washed and drained
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 package pectin
6 cups sugar
Combine raspberries, water, lemon juice, lemon peel, and pectin in a large pan. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Add sugar, return to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let set 5 minutes. Spoon off any foam that may be on top. 
Ladle into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. 

Raspberry Jam


Sunday

Our Christmas Tree

Today we took our Christmas tree down.  I always have trouble doing that. It's so pretty and festive and I find it hard to let go.  I also have a little guilt regarding cutting down this beautiful living thing so I want to keep it in use for as long as possible.

For me, it's a little early; I usually take the tree down after the second week in January.  I just want to enjoy it for as long as possible but this year is different because I am having major surgery at the end of the month. So I need to get as much done as early as possible to prepare for the impending inactivity.

Today was a good day to take it down, the weather is going to head into a deep freeze and it's best to get it out the door before that - plus it will stand in the garden where the birds can use it for shelter when the frigid temps hit. So here is the last photo I took before letting it go.

Wednesday

Happiness is...

Ducks in Winter
View from the Sewing Room Window
...watching it snow from the sewing room window knowing I have no place to go and nothing to do but sew.

Saturday

Aiming for Accuracy Quilt Project Completed

Quilting Gallery Quilt Along
Aiming for Accuracy Quilt Along Quilt
I joined in a quilt-along this summer and I actually completed all the lessons on time...well almost all of them.  I got to the very last border, a simple strip of Kona white and I just stopped working on it.  I had an obligation to finish another quilt project so I put it down.

When I put things down the momentum to finish just disappears.  With craft fair season and the holiday season coming, I had plenty of good arguments for putting this one aside. So now I have to admit that I am proud of myself. Here it is, just three days after Christmas and I finished it! I put the last border on, made the backing piece and quilted it on Thursday. I finished binding it yesterday afternoon, so really I finished it in two days but I didn't photograph it until today.

Oh crap! It doesn't have a label yet so I guess I am not quite finished after all. Gotta keep that momentum going.

Tuesday

Ceramic Santas

Ceramics ClassBack in the early 90s I went to ceramics class with a co-worker and her mother and sister.  Over a course of a few years we had a great time making lots of adorable things. Of course over the years as tastes and styles change, many of those things we made are long gone.  The one thing that I did make that had stood the test of time is these pencil Santas, as they were called.  I flipped them over to see that I carved the year, 1992 into the bottom of them.

To reflect the current times, last year I made a garland out of felt balls. This year I thought I would string them up again but I found that they were all tangled up and I didn't have the patience to untangle them. So here they are, surrounding the pencil Santas. Let's just call that an upgrade into the new millenium! I still love to put them out every Christmas season.

Monday

Christmas Tree Skirt

10 degree ruler
10-degree ruler
I purchased a 10-degree ruler earlier this year for some fun projects.  I thought I would try it out by making a Christmas tree skirt for my skinny tree.  It didn't need to be very large, just large enough to cover the base of the artificial tree.  The ruler can cut pieces up to 25 1/2 inches long.  I used up my scraps leftover from last year and the trick was getting directional pieces cut so that they were not upside-down.  That meant there would be some waste...or so I thought.

10 degree ruler
I didn't use any instructions, I just decided to start at the top of the ruler and make the strips 20 inches long. They were going to be skinny strips, perfect for the skinny tree.  I didn't do any math, I just decided to start cutting. So I cut 4 pieces of 6 different fabric then commenced to sewing them together using the same order with each set of 6 strips. Once the 4 sections were completed I realized I needed quite a few more strips; 12 to be exact. I started cutting more and that's when I ran into a little trouble. Either I would have to cut some directional strips upside down, or use different fabric altogether.  I chose to do both. I think that made it a little more scrappy looking in the end. 

After I sewed them together I got out some strips of batting left over from bigger projects.  This is one instance where I don't mind sewing two strips of batting together to make a large enough piece.  Unlike a quilt, there won't be much snuggling with a tree skirt, so I don't see the necessity of using a single piece of batting. No one will ever notice.  

Using a square piece of red Kona for the backing, I pinned the top, batting and backing together.  I do not cut the tree skirt shape out when I get to adding on the backing, I just leave it whole and quilt it.  After the quilting is completed, I then cut away the backing.  I used a striped fabric for the binding and added some large red and green buttons.  The trick is using small rubber bands to hook the buttons together once it is place around the tree. I also added 3 yards of large red rick-rack around the bottom for added decoration. 

Now it's under the tree just in time for Christmas.

10 degree ruler
Tree Skirt in the Snow

Wednesday

Teacher Gift Bags

Christmas Gift BagI used Sweetwater's Birthday Bag pattern to make a Christmas version of their bag. The Sweetwater pattern came with some premade labels so I stole that idea and printed up some of my own that said Merry Christmas. The Christmas prints are so bright and cheery and once the bags were completed, they seemed like a perfect fit for my granddaughter, Chloe's teachers.  She has two teachers who attend to her class and two teachers' aides as well. So of course, I had to make four bags. I bought the most adorable coffee mugs and filled them with cappuccino mix and some Godiva chocolates which fit perfectly in the quilted bags. Then I attached a tag I printed off the internet and hand-wrote Chloe's name on each tag. I sure hope they like them, they are all so wonderful.