Monday, December 31, 2012

Hooded Scarves

Hooded scarf out of sweatshirt fleece and cotton knit I have two adorable nieces that I don't get to see very often.  Because I have to ship their presents, we usually go with gift cards at Christmas.  I didn't want to do that this year.  My friend Dionne found a great pattern for reversible hooded scarves and I knew that's what I wanted to make them. 

Since I usually quilt, making wearable objects isn't my strength. In order to make sure I could do them well, I did a test one first. For the test one I used sweatshirt fleece and a plaid cotton knit. For the girls, they live in a cold climate, so I used sweatshirt fleece and flannel. The flannel was available in more colors and prints than the plaid. I think I found materials that suit their likes. The knit was actually easier to work with than the flannel because it didn't stretch as much.
Hooded scarf out of sweatshirt fleece and flannel
Hooded scarf out of sweatshirt fleece and flannelThe pattern called for a ruffle along the edge of the hood, and I did that on my test one, but found that I didn't really like it.  This is one of the reasons I make a test product before doing the real thing, especially when it's for someone else.  For the girls' scarves I did an accent strip and topstitch and was much happier with the way it looked.

"Curiosities" - Baby Charlie Quilt #11

Over the summer, I joined a few friends on a girls trip to the Olympic Peninsula.  We stopped at quilt shops and had lunch at Hurricane Ridge.  One of the shops we stopped at had an adorable panel called Curiosities made into a quilt and displayed.  My brother and sister in law were pregnant at the time and they were not finding out the sex.  I bought the panel hoping the little one would be a girl.  The shop owner let me take pictures of it to remind myself what it looked like.  

Lucky for me, they did have a girl!  I set to work right away on this quilt to have it ready in time for Christmas.  This was my first time using free motion quilting to trace.  I was pleased with the results! 

On the original blanket the baby name was done in hand embroidery, but I wanted it to stand out more so I appliqued her name using the border and binding fabrics.

Calla Lily Quilt #10

Calla Lily Quilt I made for my Mom at ChristmasHere's what I made my Mom for Christmas.  I tried to incorporate the colors of her house (purple/salmon/beige) plus her favorite color (blue) as well as her favorite thing (flowers) all into one blanket.  It measures out at 41 x 61. 

The calla lilies and vase are made mostly of various batik fabrics.  I appliqued using Wonder Under fusible webbing and a blanket stitch.  I used matching thread colors so the item would pop and not the stitching. 

The 'outside' of the flowers are a Kona solid that matched.  I had a scrap green batik that made perfect stems; it came in a bag of random fabrics a friend gave me.  Hard to see in the picture but it has a terrific blend of colors.  I don't have a lot of it left so I'm saving it in case I want to make more stems or leaves.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for another green similar to it.  The vase is a perfect purple batik and I used a solid purple Kona to simulate the 'inside' of the vase on that top edge.  I quilted a line across that bottom part of the vase to simulate a base to finish it off.

Calla Lily quilt for my mom at ChristmasI was browsing clip art images of flowers to get ideas and came across this image.  It was so perfect, I sized it and printed it then used that as my applique pattern.

I didn't follow a pattern; this is an original design.  I was inspired by a pattern I saw in a batik quilting book that was a wall hanging with big leaves over 2 panels.  The top design took on a few changes as I went along, and at one point I had the whole top put together then posted a picture on my favorite forum Quilting Board for advice on how to quilt it.  One of the members suggested I add a thinner black strip at the top and gave me a visual.  I agreed that it did look better so I took the top apart and added it. 

Custom quilting of calla lilies and leavesThis was my first time doing echoing, crosshatching and adding a specific free motion design. Because of this I used thread that matched the color of the fabric, so if I goofed it wouldn't show as much. In the panel next to the vase I did free motion calla lilies and leaves. I don't think I'll do this much quilting on a project this size with my machine again. It was very frustrating with a 4.5" throat. 

Calla lily pillow to match the blanketBack of the cally lily pillow I made a throw pillow out of the same fabrics with a smaller version of the calla lily to go with the blanket.  Since we were driving to Arizona for Christmas I could add this to her gift.  I finished the pillow leaving a hole in the bottom end, wrapped it, and packed a needle and matching thread.  The day after Christmas we bought the stuffing and finished it up completing the set.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Home Tweet Home - Quilt #9

I have a lot of posts to write, so pardon them being a bit quick and dry.  This project followed the "Little Flyer" quilt pattern by Alex Anderson.  I must say, after finishing the piecing I decided I wouldn't make this one again.  There's a lot of little pieces!  And with all these little pieces it's very hard to get the points and rows to line up.  The center of the quilt follows the pattern, but I changed the border sizes and added an extra border.

This lap quilt measures 44" x 44" and it's a Christmas gift for Daryl's Mom and Dad.  I made them some placemats out of the blue background birdhouse fabric awhile ago.  I backed the quilt with flannel for snuggly warmth during the cold Wisconsin winters. 

Recently I saw a post on the Quilting Board about intentionally using the wrong side of a fabric.  I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, OCD personality so I had never thought about doing this.  A few days after reading that post, I was putting the borders on this quilt.  As I was pinning the 1" middle border for stitching (right sides together), I saw that the wrong side of the fabric actually looked better with the rest of the fabrics.  The right side was quite a bit darker... so I unpinned it and used the wrong side.  I felt a bit ..... naughty, scandalous, excited - I don't know the words I'm looking for.  I felt free. Free from the 'inside of the box'.  I felt like I had stepped outside the box.  It might be a baby step, but it's a start!

~ Enjoy ~

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Guinness Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Holiday cookies at our house have beer in them, well this year anyway.  In case you think you didn't hear me right, yes I did say beer.  I can always count on recipes from Cuisine at Home to be terrific, so when I saw this one I knew I had to try it for Daryl.  Fortunately we had a few bottles of Guinness in the fridge so I gave them a try. 

Daryl was a bit concerned about me using 2 of his 3 remaining bottles of Guinness, but after his first bite he said, "this recipe is a keeper".  I must agree, they are very yummy!

These cookies bake up nice and fluffly, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. They have a wonderful chocolatey flavor with a hint of the dark Guinness flavor.

It's a traditional cookie recipe, the only thing is adding some Guinness syrup.  You heat 2 bottles of beer with 1/2 cup of brown sugar until it's a bubbly syrup.  You don't want it to cool too much or it gets sticky. 

2 bottles Guinness extra stout (12 oz each)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose white)
1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder (or regular unsweetened)
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups white chocolate chunks/chips
1 cup dark chocolate (or semi-sweet) chunks/chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Reduce beer with 1/2 cup brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until syrupy and measures 1/3 cup, 30-45 minutes.  Remove syrup from heat; set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
Cream butter, shortening, granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add beer syrup, eggs, and vanilla; mix to combine.
Stir flour-cocoa mixture into creamed mixture until flour is incorporated.  Fold in white and chocolate chunks/chips until distributed.
Drop dough by 2 or 3 Tbls scooper onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake cookies until edges are set, 12-14 minutes.  Let cookies cool 2 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Product Review: Gardein Chick'n

I am still around!  I know I haven't posted in awhile, but I've been busy in my workshop (a.k.a. sewing room) getting ready for Christmas.  I had a lot of gifts I wanted to make so I haven't been cooking as much.  After Christmas, get ready for a deluge of posts to the blog once people receive their gifts.  :)

In my quest to find foods for meat free lunches, I contacted Gardein letting them know I was interested in trying their product and they sent me a few $1.00 off coupons.  The first product I tried today was their Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n. 

Cooking it was easy and quick.  A little olive oil and heat them for about 8 minutes.  Put the sauce pack in hot water then toss with the chick'n the last minute or two of cooking.  I served this with rice.  It tasted great!  I wasn't a huge fan of the texture though.  It was a little bit chewy.  If I'd tossed it with some vegetables - carrot, bell pepper and onion - it may not have been so noticable.  I could even see adding a few slices of mandarin orange with the vegetables.  Maybe I'll buy it again with the intention of trying it with the above additions.  Based on taste alone it could have a permanant spot in the freezer.

If you've tried this product, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

~ Enjoy ~