Friday, December 30, 2011

Blue On Wednesday

I didn't plan it this way, but I think it's pretty cool that the first quilt I made in 2011 was a mini art quilt...
Fan Art Piece inspired by a local movie production company
... and my final quilt of 2011 was also a mini art quilt!

I'd had kind of a crappy day on Wednesday and after coming home from work, moping around and looking at the walls for a while, I decided that doing something creative was the only thing that would make me feel better.

I started by covering a scrap of white fabric in gesso, then painting this small portrait using watercolors.

Next, I added some thread sketching--my first ever attempt--to the hair. And yes, after it initially dried, I went in and added more paint, changing the look of the face.
thread sketching/painting(?) detail
Finally, I made a small quilt, added some shapes using raw edge applique and then zigzagged the portrait on top of everything...and yes, added more paint, changing her face yet again!

I'm going to do something that is extremely difficult for me and refrain from my usual self depricating, "I'm not an artist/quilter/seamstress/ so look at everything that is wrong with this" hooey and say this instead: I am proud of this little quilt! I'm not proud because I think it is a great work in either the art or quilting realm. I am proud that I had an inkling of an idea that I was able to turn into something real; that I was able to overcome "the blues" in a creative way; that I did it without using someone else's pattern and followed my own nose instead.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mom's Pinwheel Sampler

So for all the yammering I have done about this quilt since January of 2011, I thought I should show off the finished product.
In case you didn't read the gazillion other posts about this quilt, I followed the Pinwheel Sampler Quilt-Along instructions on P.S. I Quilt. Those instructions were easy to follow and I love how pattern uses just one layer cake and some yardage, but results in a nice size lap quilt!. I sent it to a local gal to have it quilted--she did a wonderful job.  I machine applied the binding even though I said I would never do that again.  My excuse it that it wouldn't have been finished on time otherwise. Even though I don't love the sloppy binding, I'm happy with the way this one turned out!

Mom loved it!

Coming soon...the final version of the I-Spy Quilt that I made for my nephew!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The One Where I Battle a Baby Quilt for an Entire Day

One of my quilt club's service projects is making and donating baby quilts to our hospital's NICU. At our last retreat some of the members shared a quick and cute baby quilt that used only four fat quarters. I completed a quilt top that weekend and it's been sitting in my closet since the summer waiting to be quilted.

Since we had a meeting tonight and there was no school today I decided I'd free motion quilt it. The last quilt I attempted free motion on was this quilt for my nephew. I like the look of free motion better than straight line and want to get better at it. Besides, I don't always have the money(nor do I want to wait) to take my quilt to a long arm quilter.

So many things went wrong with this one. I had tension issues, picked out quilting four times before deciding that "chicken feet" on the back weren't that bad. And then I made the decision to apply the binding by machine. It was so not a good decision! Someday I will learn to stop trying that.

But I did manage to finish it. Hours later.

Despite the fact that I spent the entire day working on this quilt in order to turn it in at tonight's meeting, dork that I am, I could not bring myself to present it to the group. No one else brought finished baby quilts, when normally there are 5-10 a meeting, and I wasn't about to let this one be the only one shown.

I do love this cute dog print from JoAnn's.
My plan is to make another, much more fabulous quilt to turn in with this one at the next meeting. I figure the fabulous one will overshadow all the mistakes in this one. Not that the ladies in my quilt club would say anything, they are wonderful, nonjudgmental and understand I am nowhere near their level yet. I, however, am my own worst critic.

It actually looks pretty decent...if you don't look too close and definitely not at the back. Or the binding. 

Even though I made a lot of mistakes and took waaaay too long to finish, it was a good practice and hopefully, the recipients won't notice the mistakes that are glaring at me.

I plan to add a full tutorial of this at some point, but in the meantime, I think you can figure out fabric placement, so here are the Measurements that you'll need:

FQ Number 1: Full FQ for center (18"x22")
FQ Numbers 2 and 3(here I've used the same fabric for both): 2 Pieces 8.5" x 22" and 2 pieces 8.5" x 18"  These will make the border around your focus FQ.
FQ Number 4: 4 8.5" Squares for the corners.

Again, you can see how this goes together in the first photo...super fast and super easy! Add a backing, quilt it, sew on the binding and there you go!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jelly Roll 1600!

I saw this video on another blog a while back and thought it looked like such a fun project!

Before I begin on an I-Spy quilt for my nephew, I think I'm going to try one of these. It looks like it doesn't require much thought, planning, or precise cutting.  I am SO ready for this type of project.

A fun guild activity, this would be a good project for beginning quilters too...not really much to have to worry about matching and using the one jelly roll would avoid a lot of fabric confusion! Nearly every shop sells them and there are a bazillion available on etsy and other online shops.

The instructions for making a Jelly Roll 1600 and photos of more finished Jelly Roll 1600s can be found on the Heirloom Creations Blog. There are even more photos of JR1600's over at Nacho Mama's Quilt.

The only thing I plan to do differently is use small strips to join the rows rather than joining them on the bias. I get no joy whatsoever out of joining strips on the bais, hence the plan to use strips.

I'll be using this batik jelly roll that I bought at JoAnn Fabrics. I love batik fabrics, but I generally can't afford them. This one was on sale at JoAnn's about three years ago and I had a gift card. It's a little sad that it sat in my closet for three years waiting to be used. I'm happy to have finally found a project to put it to good use!

Pinwheel Progress

Here she is! This is the Pinwheel Sampler quilt top that I started in January through an Independent Block of the Month at my local quilt shop. I decided on Rachel Griffith's Pinwheel Sampler because I love love love pinwheels and I thought it looked manageable for my current level of quilting skills.

It was not a difficult quilt at all, but in my haste to finish blocks before the monthly deadline I did some sloppy cutting and too fast sewing. I also sewed about half with my regular foot and the other half with my 1/4 foot, so it is not as crisp and perfect as it could have been. I'm trying to be OK with that!

Since I just finished it up mere minutes ago, I'm still seeing every single flaw and cut off point(there are lots). I'm hoping a lot of those problems will "quilt out" or at least be less noticeable.

 I'm about 95% sure it's going to be a Christmas gift for someone special and I don't think this person will notice the mistakes that are glaring at me. She will love the buttery yellow background and bright colors, however!

A couple things I did that weren't in the original tutorial were to add strips to the top and bottom (I wanted to use as much of my layer cake as possible) and I added the nine cornerstone(?) blocks to the middle. I didn't want to take these all the way out to the border so I sort of framed the inner blocks with them. I kinda like the way that turned out!

My goal now is to have it quilted by November and bound before Christmas.

Finally...I had to add this picture of my Quilt-Holder-Upper. He may grumble the entire time I try to take a photo of a quilt, but he always obliges! Thanks Mark, I ♥ you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Candy Corn Butterfingers

I have developed a bit of an addiction to Pinterest as of late. One of the first things I "pinned" was this photo linking a recipe for homemade Butterfingers.
Photo Source:
When I realized the recipe consisted of only three ingredients, I had to try it!  You'll notice that I don't have a photo of the bars I made. Mine weren't quite as pretty as these. They weren't so much bars as they were nuggets, chunks and pieces. This was probably due to the fact that I did not let them set up as directed. Being impatient, I simply shoved the dish into the freezer and busted 'em up when they were cool. Despite their unpretty looks, they tasted fantastic! And yes, they taste like actual Butterfingers, but the texture isn't as flaky or crunchy. They were good, Y'all!  These are going onto my Christmas candy rotation!

Candy Corn Butterfingers

1 lb. candy corn
16oz jar peanut butter 
16oz pkg. chocolate candy coating

Melt candy corn in microwave on high 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 15-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Stir in peanut butter. Spread mixture in a buttered dish(I used cooking spray). Cool completely. Cut into squares. Dip in melted chocolate candy coating. Lay on waxed paper to set.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

She's Three Pinwheels Shy of a Quilt

Back in January, I joined an Independent Block of the Month at my local quilt shop.  I figured it would be a fun way for me to actually complete a quilt. I'd have a year to work on it at a pace that I set myself. The pace I set for myself was that of a turtle. A sleep deprived turtle. Yet I've still managed to end up behind on this project!

My IBOM quilt is the Pinwheel Sampler  from one of my favorite quilty blogs, P.S. I Quilt. Now when they were doing the exact same quilt they finished it in something like  ten weeks. It's taking me a year, Y'all. A year!

This week is my Fall Break, so I am off work for an entire week[insert happy-screechy-jumpy-WaaHoo-yell here] and I intend to get back on track with this quilt!

Umm, except for the fact that I have something planned nearly every single day of the break....

and my next BOTM meeting is this coming Saturday....and I'm supposed to have the thing sashed by then too!  YIKES!

I thought I had caught up on it tonight after finishing these two blocks.

When I put the blocks on my design wall, I realized that I was missing three more blocks! Ugh. One of those I distinctly remember trying to square up and lopping off about 1/4 inch more than I should have on all sides. The other two...I don't know what happened. But as luck would have it, they look to be the most time consuming block of the entire set. Yay!! [insert grumbly incomprehensible cussing here]

Hopefully tomorrow I can finish up those other three blocks and begin the sashing(which has to be done by Saturday). When that's all done hopefully I can fall in love with this quilt again. Right now, we aren't even on speaking terms. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yeah. That's right. I made some quilt tops.

Last Saturday I went to a Stack-N-Whack class at my local quilt shop. I had never been the least bit interested in making one of these quilts until I saw some of the blocks a friend was making. Her use of modern fabrics hooked me on the idea of making a Stack-N-Whack myself immediately!

The yellow is a tad loud, but my plan is to have it quilted with gray thread, which should tone it down. I'd try to explain how to get the kaliedescope effect to you in a bit more detail, but it wouldn't make a bit of sense! In a nutshell, fabric gets stacked by repeat prints, cut into rectangles, then once more into triangles and with the addition of a background fabric, that print is magically turned into these spinning beauties!

 To get the actual scoop on how to make these quilts, check out Bethany Reynold's website or pick up a copy of one of her books. She's the genius who came up with this method.

This may be the most addicting quilt top I've made to date! I started Saturday and finished on Monday! How's that for quick?

I'd loooove to try this in a monochromatic color scheme!

This one is currently unnamed.

Next up is the Vintage Sheety Quilt I started back in the summer.  I do loves me some vintage sheets!

This was supposed to be a picnic quilt(for all those picnics we never go on), but I fear by the time it's actually quilted, it'll be a Happy New Year! quilt.  I'm calling this one Fifteen Sheets to the Wind.

Projects in the works:

  • Pinwheel Sampler quilt
  • Grey zig zag quilt
  • Quilt #2 for my most awesome nephew, who just happens to be the cutest boy in the world.

Easy Canvas Print? Heck Yes!

I was contacted by a representative from Easy Canvas Prints a while back asking if I would like to review a product. I would get to choose a one of my photos and have it made into a canvas print. I jumped at the chance!

After much debate, I decided on this photo that I took at the Vienna Prater when I visited Europe a few years ago.  There are a few more photos from the park here.

And here's how it translated to canvas.  Please, as always, excuse the crappy lighting. 

I am very pleased with the canvas! I should also add that the website was a snap to use and it shipped quickly. 

I decided to hang it with a few other travel related pieces on my "Wall O' Art".  One, a photo my sister took in New Orleans. The other is a painting that I bought on the Charles Bridge in's my favorite souvenir ever!

Here's how it looks on said Wall O' Art. I know it seems like a sparse collection right now, but someday I want to fill this entire wall with more photos, paintings, prints, etc. In addition to the three above are drawing of my dog Mya, a gift from my dear friend and phenomenal artist, Mary, a Natasha Wescoat print, and a Shag Tiki Room print, a gift from my husband. 

They are currently running a 25% off sale with free shipping over at Easy Canvas Prints! Thanks again, guys for giving me the opportunity to review your great product! I think I'm gonna need a few more to help balance and fill out this wall!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pumpkin Brownies

I was watching an episode of Hungry Girl on Food Network the other day and she made these absolutely yummy looking fudgey-brownies using a can of pumpkin, some peanut butter, light chocolate syrup and a box of brownie mix. It's not the first time I'd thought of trying this recipe, but seeing her eat them and hearing her talk about how wonderful they tasted, well it made me have to try making them.

I didn't have any chocolate syrup, so I mixed the brownie mix and pumpkin.

Next I added 2TBS of melted peanut butter to the batter and made it all pretty.

Baked at 350 for about 40min.

Don't they look yummy?

So. Not. Yummy. They weren't terrible, but they didn't taste like any brownie I've ever eaten. They had a weird(pumkin, no doubt) flavor that I just could not get past. I wonder if the chocolate syrup would have eliminated some of the pumpkin flavor?  Looking at the photo I can almost hear them saying "I'm not what I pretend to be".

They weren't for me, but that doesn't mean it's a bad Vegan Husband loved  them!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Arrival

I've been blatantly absent from the blog as of late.

The reason....

 This precious little guy(all 9pounds, 1oz. & 21 inches of him) came into our lives on July 7.  My parents and I had been staying with my lil' sis in Chicagoland 2 weeks prior to his arrival and were there when he was born.

Mommy, Daddy and Baby are doing great and the family couldn't be happier.

Aunt Kellie is 100% in love with her nephew.

Shhh! It's Really a Towel Rack.

While I haven't been crafting much lately, I have been doing a bit of shopping. I'd been wanting a quilt rack for a while...after all, it's kind of sad to make a quilt only to shove it in the closet. All I had been able to find locally was the standard oak rack with hearts cut out on the sides. Not exactly my style, so in the closet my quilts went. While perusing IKEA in Chicagoland, I came across this towel rack. I think it works well for displaying smaller quilts, which are what I prefer to make! I'd like to hang the larger quilt(left), but haven't decided on exactly how to do that. I would really love to know your thoughts on hanging and displaying quilts. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wonky Log Cabin Tutorial

I was recently asked to do a demo of how I made the wonky log cabin blocks in this quilt top at my quilt club's summer retreat. Knowing I'd be a nervous wreck(these ladies are Real Quilters), I decided it might not be a bad idea to have something concrete to back up my rambling demonstration. I photographed my process and typed up some directions. I thought I'd share it with y'all as well.

I didn't invent the wonky log cabin(also called liberated log cabin or improvisational log cabin), but I do love to make them!  There are several other tutorials out there...this is my method. I make them at 6.5 or 9.5 inches because those are sizes of my square rulers.

What you'll Need:
  • A pile of strippy scraps, at least one of the long edges should be trimmed nice and straight. Nearly any width will do. These will be your logs.
  • A pile of 2"-4" fussy cut squares for the center. 
  • rotary cutter
  • 6.5" ruler
What You'll Do:

Choose one of your square(ish) shapes and a scrap of fabric for the first "log).

The pin is there to help remind me how the block is oriented
Lay the log down on your square in a "wonky" manner and sew using a 1/4 inch seam along the outer edge of the log. It might feel weird and uncomfortable to not have your edges lined up. Do it anyway!

Trim away that ugly edge.
You're left with something like this.
Trim the edges.
Repeat this process to continue building your block.

It's OK if some of the edges are non-wonky!
If you feel your block is getting a bit out of control, you can trim it up after the first round of logs is complete.

Repeat the process until you have a block that is a bit larger than 6.5". Depending on the width of your logs,  your block may have two or three rounds of logs.
When completely finished, you'll have something that looks like this.
Use your 6.5" square ruler to trim up the block. If you have enough "extra" fabric, you can wonky it up even more!
OK, at this point, I should note that I my camera batteries ran down and I don't have the finished block to show you. But I CAN show you a photo of the finished block...I made several of these blocks for a fun table runner!

That's it! Hope you enjoyed and if you make any wonky log cabins using this method, I'd love to see them!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Apple Crumble for Folks Who Don't Like Cooked Apples

I don't like cooked apples.

Or so I thought.

And then I watched Melissa D'Arabian on The Food Network make an apple crumble.

An Apple Crumble with Cardamom-Vanilla Caramel Sauce, to be exact.

And I thought to myself, "How have I lived 39(not really) years without having eaten an Apple Crumble with Cardamom-Vanilla Caramel Sauce? Truly, I haven't lived!" Then I changed the channel and got mesmerized by something else, probably Billy the Exterminator or reruns of Three's Company.

A few weeks later I was in the grocery store and remembered that I wanted to make that apple thingie with the fancy sauce. I had no idea what ingredients I'd need other than the apples. SO, I picked up some Granny Smith's, came home, hunted down the recipe, and realized I could make the apple crumble but not the Vanilla-Cardamom Caramel Sauce. Honestly, I reasoned, if it takes four words to describe the sauce, it's probably over my skill level anyway. I settled on making the Apple Crumble alone.

Since I wasn't making the Fancypants Sauce version, I decided to check out other recipes for apple crumble before I got started. What I ended up baking was a conglomeration of Melissa D'Arabian's recipe and one I found on Joy the Baker, and...

Oh. My. Gosh.

I felt the need to apologize to all those cooked apples I'd turned my nose up at in the past!

Apple Crumble for Folks Who Don't Think They Like Cooked Apples

What You Need:
For Filling:
5-6 medium Gala apples (or a mix of Galas + Granny Smith), peeled, cored & sliced
1Tsp. lemon juice
2.5 Tbs. sugar
1.5 Tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt

For Crumble:
2/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups brown sugar
2/3 cups oats
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
pinch of salt
one stick of butter I use light margarine since my husband is vegan, but in my heart, I know butter makes it better.

What You Do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss apple slices with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix crumble ingredients until uniform.

Melt butter in baking pan. Pour melted butter into crumble mixture, leave the excess butter in baking dish to coat pan. Arrange apples in dish and cover with the crumble mixture. This crumble mixture will be dough-y(expert culinary term)sometimes I try to pat it out and lay it on the apples, other times I plop globs of it over the apples, covering as much of the filling as possible, either works.

Bake till apples are cooked through and topping is nice and brown. 45min. to an hour.

Serve this warm and top  with some Vanilla ice cream, and if you're more adventurous than I, make yourself a fancy Vanilla Cardamom Caramel Sauce to go with it. Don't forget to come back here to tell me what you think!

And for those of you just joining me, I'm giving away a few fabric postcards. Check my previous post for details on how to get one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Postcard Swap with Vintage Sheets & Aprons

A while ago I joined the Trading Fabric Postcards group. I've received some fun and artsy postcards and been able to play with new ideas as I learn to make these little works of art. In May, one of the themes was Aprons. I couldn't resist joining in. I decided to use some of the scraps left over from the vintage sheet quilt I've yet to finish to make the card. I wanted it to have a shabby/cottage look, so instead of doing a tight zig zag around the apron, I did a straight stitch, leaving enough edge exposed to ravel. The outcome isn't exactly what I had pictured, but I am pleased with the overall look of it and I think the pieces of vintage sheets are lovely. 
I'd like to make more postcards using sheet scraps and I'd like to share them with YOU! If you'd like a vintage sheet postcard, leave a comment here.  I'll choose several names from a hat in a couple weeks and sometime in the next month in the next year in the future, those folks will receive a little bit of vintage sheet love in their mailbox!

I adore the postcard that Chris sent to me in this swap! The background is a vintage quilt block from her granny's stash and the apron is made from Plaid stamps! I'm assuming these are some type of saver stamp that came from a grocery store. It's perfect!