Friday, January 31, 2014

Comfy Slumber Makers

Yeah, I figured I needed to come up with a title catchier than 'pillowcases'.  Not that there is anything wrong with pillowcases.  They keep our heads comfortable all night. They should be soft, warm, cuddly. It seems the ones at the store don't always add up. They can be scratchy and rough; no good when you're trying to sleep.

With kids, it's fun to have different pillowcases with their favorite fun character or category.  My Mom has made my son Cars pillowcases, dinosaur pillowcases, and of course holiday cases for Christmas and Halloween. While visiting my sister, we were looking for quick projects we could do to try out her new machine.  She found some flannels on the sale table at Pacific Fabrics, and came up with the awesome idea of making some pillowcases.  I hadn't tried making one before and was intrigued.

The first one has a little fairy princess flying around. Perfect for a little girl.  So easy to make, too.  I couldn't believe it! Why haven't I done this before? The pattern allows you to hide all of the seams so everything stays strong and clean.

The second one was monkeys. So the cuff doesn't match great, but the theme is there (with the bananas) and my sister loves red, so it's all good. Again, super easy pattern with hidden edges so it's a real clean finish.

These were both washed and promptly placed on my nieces pillows. I am definitely going to be making more of these. My daughter will be getting her first bed in the next few months and we'll be needing more pillowcases.  Better get ready!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Practicing With My Bags

I have been visiting my sister for a couple of weeks in the pacific northwest and she got a new sewing machine for christmas.  We decided to do some practice work on her new machine, and what better thing to practice with than making a bag.  There's pockets and zippers and tricky stitching to hide seams. Great thing to try out a machine and see if it works alright.

My sister picked out some great fabric at a LQS up the street, Keepsake Cottage Quilt Shop. Amazing place! So many fabrics to choose from! She chose navy thread for the quilting and we were ready to get home and get to work.

The machine wasn't sure what to think of the extra bulk that comes with quilting and sewing quilted pieces together, but it managed. When it came to the zipper, it went in very smoothly and I did a simple whip-stitch to finish off the ends.

The pattern was based on the Honey Honey Bag I completed a couple of weeks ago, but a smaller version.  This one measures 13 inches across the top and is 3 1/2 inches wide on the bottom. Perfect for everyday errands type of thing.

We still had some fabric left over, so I am taking it home with me and I am going to try making an even smaller, and slightly different version of the bag. We'll see how it goes. I am having a lot of fun with this bag-making thing.

I am linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finished Friday.  Didn't think I was going to make it, but we managed to actually get some things done between playground trips with the kids and experimenting with recipes in the kitchen. It has been a lot of fun!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How Much Fun!

I didn't know making a bag could be so much fun! I have been reluctant up until now to work with zippers. I still have a lot of work to do, a lot of things to learn, but I am happy with how it turned out. I need to back up a little...

I had some leftover fabric from a jelly roll quilt I pieced together last year; Bear Paw in the Honey Jar. I decided to use the scraps to make a bag. I wanted a pretty large bag, so this measures 17 inches across the top and 5 inches wide on the bottom. BIG! Great for going to a quilting retreat, or in my case, carrying all the things you carry when you're a mom for two toddlers.

I also wanted to have LOTS of pockets because, frankly, you can never have enough pockets. I made 6 pockets inside and 2 on the outside. In the future, I'd like to try making pockets inside of pockets, layered pockets, etc, but for now this was a good start.

The quilting was simple; quarter-inch seam along the rectangles.  It made it quick and easy and allowed easy lines to stitch along when creating the inside pockets.

Finally, the zipper. I wasn't sure how it would go; the last time I stitched over a zipper it broke the needle.  That's never fun! But this time, I was more careful in my attack plan and more slow and methodical with the actual stitching.  Hopefully that will speed up as I get better at it; practice, practice. I see a lot of bags with zippers in my future! I am hoping to post this on Etsy in the next few weeks and see if I might have some luck with my shop. Until then, I will continue perfecting my bag patterns.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Old Fashion Thank You's

Yeah, that's right. I am old fashion. I hope that my children will adopt the same old fashion habits. They received some wonderful presents from family and friends and I wanted to make sure those people knew how much we appreciate their thoughtful gifts. So, I made some thank you cards for them to sign and send off. I decided to use some old ones and make some news ones so the cards coming from the different children would be similar, but not exactly the same. I also needed something that would be easy to mail 2 in one envelop.

Gwen's cards were actually some that I made a couple of years ago and posted on Etsy. I had no luck selling, and decided to use them myself (one of the great things about making/selling crafts that you can use, too).

Paper: White cardstock
Ink: Brown ink (I used Stampin' Up Chocolate Chip)
Embellishments: Green embossing powder, Free-Motion Embossing Pen
Stamp Set: Stem Silhouettes, by Stampin' Up

This card was so super easy to make. Simply stamp the stems on the card at an angle and use the Free-Motion Embossing Pen to create spots.  Sprinkle the embossing powder on the spots and heat with heating tool. Lastly, add a 'Thank You' or whatever sentiment you're going for on the top right corner of the card. All done, and can be quite a sophisticated card!

Paper: Cream cardstock
Ink: Stampin' Up Old Olive, Certainly Celery, Always Artichoke, Real Red, and Chocolate Chip
Stamp Set: Random collection of pine needles, berries, and pine cones

Stamp the darkest of the greens in one needle, then the next darkest, then the lightest green in different needles. Stamp the pine cones in the brown and the berries in the red. For more depth, you can go back with the darkest green one more time. I used the darkest green for the sentiment as well. Again, super simple and could easily be a christmas card as well.

Hope the recipients of these enjoy them. They were super fun to make and write in. Good Stuff!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

Okay, okay, that might sound like a bold statement, but these truly are the best tasting cinnamon rolls I have had since Cinnabon entered our malls. I have been working on this recipe for a while now, and have blogged about it before when I posted a teaser about this recipe. Well, no more waiting. The recipe is here for you.

Do you have plans for your Sunday morning breakfast yet? These are totally worth the time, and really not too much work. I have found a way to use the food processor for the dough, which eliminates the kneading time, and it's a recipe you can make the night before and put it in the refrigerator or make a few days before and put the dough in the freezer until you're ready to use it. Whatever works best for you, but I'm telling you these rolls are totally worth it! Melt in your mouth, your taste buds will love you, can't get enough kind of rolls.

This recipe is actually a combination of a couple different recipes (Pillsbury Cookbook and along with some adjustments so it would work for me. You can also add different ingredients to the rolls, such as raisins, nuts, or chocolate. I am a purist and prefer having just the cinnamon sugar, but raisins with walnuts does sound good. For now, I think I need to go make another batch; for practice. Truly, it's for practice. ;)

Best Cinnamon Rolls

Dough (makes 2 batches):
6-7 c flour
½ c sugar
2 t salt
2 pkg rapid rise yeast
1 c water
1 c milk
1/2 c butter or margarine
1 egg

Filling (per batch):
3/4 c packed brown sugar
2 T cinnamon
1/3 c butter, softened

Icing (per batch):
¼ c butter
1 c powdered sugar
¼ c cream cheese
¼ t vanilla
1/8 t salt (optional-I don’t use it)

In a food processor, mix 5 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Meanwhile, heat water, milk, and butter to 120-130 degrees. Add heated liquid to the flour mix with the processor running. Add the egg and blend. Once well combined, add flour to make a dough-ball consistency.  Have a buttered bowl ready. Knead the dough on the counter for a couple minutes to make sure it’s well blended and place it into the buttered bowl. Cover and leave until it doubles in size, about one hour. Once ready, punch dough down to remove air bubbles and divide it into 2 pieces.  Wrap one up and place it in the refrigerator or the freezer, or double the filling and icing recipes to make the full recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough out in the shape of a square that’s about 25 in x 16 in.; the dough should be about ¼ in thick. For the filling, spread the softened butter over the dough, keeping about 1 inch on the bottom end clean (that will be your seam to hold the rolls together). Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and spread it evenly across the buttered dough, again not on the 1 inch area that will be used as a seam.

Roll the dough carefully from the top down to the clean bottom edge. Pinch the bottom edge with the side of the roll to hold it together. Trim the ends of the roll and then cut the dough into ~2 inch slices (should be 12 pieces), and place in a lightly greased baking pan so they are not touching. Allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until barely golden on the edges. While the rolls are baking, combine the icing ingredients. When the rolls are done, pull them from the oven and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes. Then, smear the icing on top generously.  Reserve some to be used while they’re being eaten. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome the New Year!

 To all of us, today is a new year.  To my quilting projects that have found ways to delay their completion, it's just another day. I realize I only have myself to blame, but it would be comforting to think it was their fault. :P
I tried so hard to finish this bag before the end of the year, but for the last 2 months it has managed to find ways to avoid being worked on. I have had a vision of what the completed project will look like locked in my head all this time. I walked by it on my sewing table several times a day and thought how I'd like to finish it; right after I finish the Christmas shopping, or the holiday baking, or the present wrapping, or the unending cleaning. Man, those pine trees can drop a lot of needles (totally worth it for the wonderful pine smell that fills the house, have to admit).

Front of the bag
Back of the bag with my daughters hand grabbing it

This is as far as got. I have the outer pockets, the straps, and the piecing all done. I also have the quilting done, and the inside of it almost finished. All I have left is the inside pockets, the zipper, and the final stitching to put it all together.
It's a pretty bright and happy bag. It has been fun figuring out the best way to construct it; there I go again preferring mind-numbing contemplation to figure it out over using a pattern that would probably cut the time in half. Oh well, it's all good. I'm sure I'm just keeping my mind sharp, right? Yeah, that's right; sure! I think it will be my first finished project for 2014.  Hopefully I can finish it soon; quickly. I must be optimistic! I can do it!