Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Olympic Doll Quilts

I finished the three doll-size quilts for Savannah's Olympic dolls and they are cute! It's hard to pick a favorite but I think I like YingYing's the best - she's the Tibetan Yak doll. It's fun to experiment with colors and patterns I would never use otherwise. Doll-size is sometimes just right for trying something new!

Here they are all tucked in together with their matching quilts.




Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Day for Crafting

Savannah woke up today with the idea of making a bracelet for her cousin Abby, probably because she rediscovered the bracelet Abby made for her in New York. Savannah wanted to cut out a butterfly and put it on a pipecleaner for a bracelet. We make bracelets like this sometimes at home and sometimes at the Butterfly Pavilion's storytime, BUT I tried to convince her that we should try some other materials since the paper might rip in the mail and the metal in the pipe cleaners sometimes poke. So, one trip to the craft store later we'd returned with all sorts of beads she'd picked out to make bracelets for everyone! She had lots of fun stringing them on in different patterns. I'm not usually interested in jewelry-making, or in jewelry that much, but I even made one for myself and for $1 in beads, it turned out pretty well.

Savannah's bracelets, one in yellow with sparkly beads and another in purples.

Her bracelets to her cousins, all wrapped up in origami paper.

While Savannah was busy stringing together her bracelets, I decided to make a zafu pillow for myself. It's a meditation pillow so while you're sitting and breathing, your butt doesn't get too sore (and of course, it aligns the spine and helps open the chest for better breathing). I found a great tutorial for it online but I decided to add one extra feature, a handle. I've been waiting to find a project for my Amy Butler lotus fabric (yellow lotus pond) and this seemed the perfect use for it. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out but I wish I had stuffed it slightly less. I'm used to the zafus that you sort of squish into and mine's a little more firm. Maybe I'll have to break it in, which is really the point afterall. I didn't have barley or buckwheat hulls to fill it with and rather than taking the time to order the proper filling, I made do with a combination of shredded bamboo that I had leftover from another project and the polybeads that are used to fill bean bags. Those polybeads were a nightmare to clean up and as Savannah said, "Well, Mom, I guess you learned your lesson about that!"

My first zafu pillow.

The handle I added for function.

Isn't it a beauty?

Favorite Summer Salad Recipe

My favorite summer salad is so easy to make, especially after a trip to the Farmer's Market.

Pile a plate full of your favorite lettuces, add some diced cilantro and tomatoes. Slice the corn off a fresh ear and add that to your plate (raw corn counts as a vegetable while cooked corn counts as a starch). Add your favorite warm beans to the top (I usually make pinto beans but black beans are actually better for you with their higher fiber content). I like to serve mine with crumbled chips on top or with a vegetarian tamale. Delicious and filling!
Variations: sliced purple onions, diced green onions, diced Anaheim peppers, sliced avocado, cheese or sour cream, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and squeeze of lime on top.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Humus recipe

Savannah wanted a snack today and the choices I gave her, carrots or cherries, didn't appeal to her today. "I know Mom, how about we make humus to eat with our carrots?" So we did.
We like to eat our humus with carrots, pita bread or chips and when we have them, fresh cucumbers that are thickly julienned.

Savannah tested and approved! Someone LOVES her hummus. I like to use it on open-faced sandwiches in place of mayo.

Humus recipe:

1. drain water into cup from 1 can of chick peas
2. add to food processor:
- chick peas
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1Tb of lemon juice
- 1Tb of tahini
- 1Tb of olive oil
- bunch of freshly chopped cilantro
- pinches of salt, cumin, coriander, fresh black pepper

3. Pulse until combined adding additional saved water from humus and salt until desired consistency and taste are reached.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Quilts are still useful...

Kevin thinks my quilting is old-fashioned and that my end products are undesirable. But now that it's been so rainy in Denver, my quilts are turning out to be just the thing we need. Savannah loves her picnic quilt, which she asked me to make exactly like one she saw on Strawberry Shortcake when she and her friends have a picnic. She uses this one both outside and in. It has really thick batting so it's cushion-y on the grass. It also helps to cheer up a rainy day or snow day by having a picnic inside.

The Strawberry Shortcake Quilt - Ahh! Savannah loves it!

Savannah has a super cute country shabby-chic quilt that I made for her bed. I quilted it with a much thinner batting, Warm & Natural that was recommended by Eleanor Burns (my favorite quilter to learn from). It was much easier to quilt and I used this tutorial on free motion quilting provided by one of my favorite bloggers, Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts.

My Shabby Chic Log Cabin Quilt for Savannah's bed. I followed Amanda Jean's tutorial and did my first free-motion quilting on this one. Once I had the right foot, it worked out well!

There's a new baby boy due due in a few short months to a friend in NYC. I'd like to make her something for the little guy but I'm not yet sure what... They are matching Pottery Barn people so that makes it especially difficult. Maybe a play quilt in baby Einstein colors to stimulate the little one's mind.

Here are some baby quilts from the recent past:

I really liked the contrasting colors in this one. Easy nine-patch with sashing.

This quilt is the bright hopes quilt for kids and I made it from a free pattern I found online. It uses a neat technique of sewing a partial seam so the squares can be sewn flat. I'd like to make this quilt again in different colors. I made this one all from quarter flats from JoAnn's and used every last bit of fabric in the binding. A truly economic quilt!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back to School Crafting

After a good night's sleep, we made some back to school crafts for her cousins, who we will see in a few days on a quick trip to NY. For my nieces we made tissues holders and matching handbags. For my nephew, it was harder. I never know what to make for boys. I considered a superhero cape or a pirate bandanna. But then I decided to stick with the back to school theme and made a matching tissue holder and pirate pencil case (although it could be used to hold treasure maps equally well!) Arggh! Hands off me treasure scallywag, or you'll walk the plank to Davey Jones locker.

Handbag Tutorial

This is my first tutorial for an easy handbag or purse. I hope I give clear instructions! I’m really more of an intermediate sew-er, not advanced, but if I forget something, just ask and I’ll answer by updating the tutorial.

These bags were made in small sizes for my daughter and nieces but are also a great size for an evening out when lined with a smooth, slippery fabric like satin. My daughter uses hers to hold her tap dance and ballet shoes so we don't lose them. As a variation they can be made much larger, just increase the size of the handles, or rounder by using a larger diameter circle.

1. Cut four rectangular pieces of fabric, all the same dimensions. Two pieces are for the lining of the bag, and the other two are for the finished outside of the bag. For the bags in my pictures, the dimensions of the rectangles are approximately 10.5 x 15 inches, but the size can be varied as you like.

2. Place one piece of lining fabric and one piece of exterior fabric rectangles right sides together.
3. Press the fabric if you haven't already. Using a pin or chalk, measure and mark halfway (the middle) along both of the short sides. This is 5.25 inches in my case.

4. Next sew with your favorite seam length (1/4 inch, 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch are all fine, just be consistent) from one pin to the corner, then down the long side and to the second pin. Repeat for the other lining/exterior rectangles. Now you have two sides that look like half pockets.

5. Now comes the tricky part! Place one side down on a flat surface and fold back the half of fabric that is loose. Place the other side on top of it, lining up the exterior side and the lining and the pins/chalk marks in the center. You will have something that looks like this. My lining fabric is on the right side (blue polka dots) lined up together and pinned halfway through.

6. Use a plate or something else round to make the corners. I used a 6" plate for these. Trace the plate with chalk or a fabric pen. Since this is the lining side of my bag, I will leave 2-4" open in the center so I can eventually turn the bag right side out through the lining. Do remember to leave that opening or you'll have to undo the stitches in the center to make a hole like I had to do when making this tutorial!

7. Trim away the excess fabric to reveal your lovely curved corners. Then flip the top and bottom flaps of the bag over to make the curved corners on the other side.

8. Line up the center again with a pin or chalk and trace the same size curved corners on this side of the fabric. This time, sew all the way around (no need to leave an opening on this side of the fabric) then trim away the extra fabric.

9. Now for the fun part! Using the hole you've left open in the center of the lining, turn the bag right side out. Use whatever you like to smooth the seams open all the way. I sometimes use my fingers and sometimes I press a chopstick along the insdie fo the seams. Press the fabric to keep those seams looking nice.
10. Fold in the edges of the open fabric and sew this closed with an 1/8 inch seam using thread that is invisible or the same color as the fabric. You could also do this by hand, but I'm far too lazy for that.

11. Poke the lining back down inside the bag. Now you have something that looks like this below:

12. Almost done! Fold down one top flap of the bag so that it will fit over the handle with some extra room and use chalk or pins to manke this line. Make a similar line on the other side of the bag. Now you have a choice - sew the handles in by hand or use your machine. I always use my machine because I like fast and easy. Using one handle, begin to fold the fabric over it so the fabric reaches the line you marked. Sew the handle in slowly, adjusting the fabric and flattening in out as needed to make it match the line you've marked. I like to stitch forward and backward near the edges to make them extra strong.

When you're done with one handle, you'll have this. Then repeat on the other side, pushing the extra fabric and handle out of the way. Just a note: if you find that you have slightly more fabric on the top seam when you near the end of the handle, simple fold it under so they are even. No one will notice since the fabric is all bunched up around the handle anyway. This is a very forgiving bag, which is why it's so perfect for me!

Snip those loose threads and you're done with your super-cute handbag!

Unless, of course, you want to make a matching tissue which case you might want to visit this tutorial.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Waldorf Apron in Fresh Cut

Here' s an apron from the new sewing book I love, "A is for Apron: 25 Fresh and Flirty Designs". This was hands down my favorite pattern from the book even if it is a little less practical than others with pockets, etc. The designer who contributed this apron was Erin Harris from House On Hill Road, one of my favorite craft/designer blogs.

The apron was fun to make although I must admit I fudged her pattern a bit rather than photocopying it. It is called the Waldorf. The fabric is one I've been waiting to use - Heather Bailey's Freshcut. I really like it but I think this apron would look much better on someone with less of a curvy figure than I have. The pattern really accentuates curves, which is great if you haven't got many, and is very feminine. So, I'll have to leave the stylish, twirly aprons to the skinny girls. (Sigh.) And will try another pattern for myself. Maybe something more practical with pockets for collecting fresh eggs or clothespins or quilting scraps...

We put our new aprons to the test while making eggplant parmigiana today and pumpkin bread, one of Savannah's favorite things. She eats any pumpkin straight from the can that I'm not quick enough to blend into the batter, then polishes off my mixing bowl while my back is turned towards the sink...

Caught! Orange-handed!

...and she knows how to dismantle my stand mixer too.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tissue Holders - getting sick in style

My babysitter has strep throat on top of allergies. She's not contagious anymore so we've stocked the kitchen full of tea, chicken soup and popsicles for her. Since I already had the fabric out from yesterday, I decided to try this fabulous tutorial from stardustshoes for making a pocket or purse sized tissue cover. It was very easy and Savannah liked the idea so much she thought we should make one for everyone. (Everyone!?) So watch in the mail if you get sick! I thought I'd use up some of my Kaffe Fassett scraps and give Destiny a choice. Turns out she liked the first one I made for her the best, the one with cupcakes! We made four in under an hour. Fun! Someday I'll make matching zip-up pouches as well.

Destiny's favorite tissue holder - and she's already making good use of it! We want to make her a cool back to school bag or purse as well for September and who knows, maybe she'll get matchy, matchy gifts for her senior year.

Tissue holders made from the Kaffe Fassett fabric - possibly my favorite fabric designer.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Savannah's new apron

Today Savannah's babysitter was sick. Since I knew I wasn't going to get any work done, we decided to spend the day making things instead. I recently bought a new book called "A is for Apron: 25 Fresh and Flirty Designs" and wanted to try some of the patterns out. We decided that Savannah should get the very first apron so she picked out her favorite fabrics (and I think she did a great job!). This cute little apron took only 1 hour to make including 15 minutes of photocopying the pattern to get it the right size. I think she's happy with it too! Of course, now she wants me to make one in the same fabrics for myself but we'll see; I have some other fabrics in mind...

This is a fun little book of patterns with easy to follow instructions. I'll be making quite a few aprons from this book!

Stirring, stirring, this is her favorite kitchen job (other than breaking eggs).

Just think of all the new recipes this little chef is going to whip up in the kitchen with Mommy now! Probably starting, cupcakes!