27 February 2017

Where's The Monday Motivation?

Perhaps the only thing worse than a boring, mild
winter is when the temps go up and down dramatically?
As much as I long for snow, having all of our 70+ degree days
get interrupted by a  weekend of "below freezing" reminds me
a little of when our water heater broke a month ago.
At least I got to enjoy a toasty fire.

This probably doesn't look real different from my update
last week but I said I was going to get them sewn together
before the week was out so here I am to prove it happened.

 I don't mind setting this one aside but I really wanted to get
a border or two on it first so that is my only goal this week.
(It's too small for my taste so border-less really isn't an option.)
So far my stash is no help but I'm hoping some time
away from the sewing room will give me a new perspective
and all will be fine.

Looking ahead, I have two baby quilts to get started on.
Whether or not I make both from the same pattern to save time
or make two different quilts, right now I do have two that I'm looking at.
The first can be found on the Moda Bake Shop.

The second is from Fons & Porter.

Because they're scrappy, both would be great stash-busters.

I did some killer-baking this weekend so I wanted to share a
couple links.  The irony here is that I've been cutting sugar
from my diet drastically (aside from local honey for my allergies),
but then allowing a little cheating on the weekends. 
Both of these recipes far surpass "a little cheating"
and probably have something to do with my tiredness today
even if I did keep to one serving of each.

No other word for it.
Especially if you're a fan of bread pudding--it tastes about the same.
There's a scrumptious layer of caramel and bananas throughout the
middle.  In fact, I think I'd up the banana count to 4.  I'm into fruit.

The awesome bonus is that you can make it the night before.
I whipped up some homemade French bread for the occasion,
and I had, from the previous weekend, a little homemade
salted caramel in the fridge that made a great drizzle for the top.
Definitely top with fresh whipped cream, but light on the sugar
when you beat it up because, really,
I think this has a month's worth of sugar all in one serving.

My husband and I are again catechists for Confirmation this year
and teach a group of teens in our home every Sunday after Mass
(for 12 weeks).  We love to cook so much that it was our personal
decision to make some sort of breakfast for them.
This Sunday I made my own recipe of French Apple Muffins

This was actually my way of putting off crepes, btw.
We're officially half-way through and I haven't made them yet.
What can I say?  They're kind of a lot of work.  Not that I don't enjoy
making them--I do!  But when you get home at 8:45 am and class
begins at 10:15, well, it's just not as fun to cook when you're
in a hurry.  Though, I have become very good at prepping all of these
breakfasts in any way possible the night before.
The sifting, the cooking of the berries, etc but in no way will I give
up "hot out of the oven freshness" for ease on my part.
I'm a stickler for putting a recipe's best foot (berry?) forward.
The crepes?  They'll happen.  Soon.  Really.
At least that's what I keep telling the kids.

Today's temps are warmer but there's a chill in the house so I'm
camped out by the fire, both of us struggling with motivation.
Nothing a little more firewood can't fix for him.
For me?
What usually works is to just force myself into a task.
And next thing you know, I'll be cleaning, baking, sewing or something.
Maybe just some afternoon tea.

(I thought this would make for a cozy way to show my quilt top off...
till I noticed my boys' mess in the sewing room window.  
They seem to take after me in wanting to work in front of a good view so who
am I to make them put it away?  Well, at least before the weekend was up.)

There just aren't many (any??) more days left for a toasty fire!

19 February 2017

Sewing to a Different Pace

I can think of a few mild winters but this one
has to top them all.  There have been many days
where I've had the windows and doors open.
This weekend I just gave up and started prepping
the garden; I even planted some things.
(For the record, it's at least a month too early for this!)
I love a winter full of blizzards so the fact that we've hardly
seen a flurry has me kinda mopey and not really in
the mood to do much quilting.

the only sewing I've done this year is this "antique" quilt.

It was a huge struggle to find a background that worked
with the late-1800's fabrics, especially the lighter ones.
I noticed the original quilt had some pretty light contrasting
fabrics and they seemed to work so I finally gave up and went
with the best I could find at the closest quilt shop.

The slow pace of this project has felt almost unnatural.
However, as my next "quilt deadlines" aren't for another month or so,
I'm taking this one at a pretty leisurely pace.

I had enough fabric to add an extra row but even with
a border or two, this will be just a lap-sized quilt.
The pattern isn't a super favorite with me but I do feel it
works well with these fabrics and I'm anxious to see how
it goes in our formal living room...
by the fire...
on a snowy day!

I have started putting the blocks into rows so there
should be no trouble getting the top done this week.
And that should free up a project basket for something else.
Besides my cat.

08 February 2017

More Valentines Runners: Because I Can't Say No

The Valentine's table runners seem to be multiplying.

Backing up a little, I seem to be in a little battle with pre-cuts,
and so I've decided to just use them up and be done with them.

I'm currently working on a quilt to use up this layer cake
of these reproduction (late 1800's) fabrics:

And just this last week I finished up this Valentine's runner.

When I purchased a little bit of yardage to finish this up,
I discovered there were still matching mini-charm packs available
and my mind immediately wandered to making little Valentine's gifts.
Nothing reels me in like the idea of making gifts for someone
and out the window went my "I'm never buying pre-cuts again!"

You know how that whole shipping-cost issue can lure you into
buying a few more things, right?
(I did say yesterday you would be rolling your eyes!)

Well, of course I bought two of the little guys
(insert talking-to-your-pet voice here)
because their just so cuuuute.
(now lose the cute-sy voice, toughen back up...)
But ONLY with the firm intention of using them up
immediately.  Which seemed to be a pretty safe intention
seeing as how the holiday is just around the corner.
(eye roll away!)

BUT, here they are.  
My whole collection of Valentine's Day table decor.
So, you see, I did use them up immediately.

Maybe we can even pretend this whole little
mini-charm pack purchase never happened?!

FYI, for the mini-runners, I cut 1.5" white-on-white squares
for the star peaks and then followed this method.
You'll have a few squares left over from the packs, by the way
if you make any of these projects.
I did use charms for the centers of the stars but the
white-on-white had to come from my stash.

I have ciabatta dough calling for attention so off I go.
If you've never made ciabatta bread, I really recommend it.
Nothing quite like a sandwich on freshly-made, lightly-buttered
and lightly-toasted (under the broiler) ciabatta bread!

I'm a little early but I do tend to pop in and out around here so:
Happy Valentine's Day!

07 February 2017

Valentines Table Runner

With the turning of a new year, I made a few changes
to my daily routine that have taken away some
of my sewing and computer time.

This means there hasn't been much done on my new projects
but I have sewn up a little seasonal decor,
knocking off another charm pack in the process.

Using just one pack of Sandy Gervais' "Love" (Moda),
and a little bit of scrap white on white fabric,
I pieced together the four blocks of this table runner.

And, as is the way of fabric and fabric stashes,
I then discovered that I didn't have just the right colors 
(go ahead--feel free to roll your eyes here)
for sashing or binding.
Luckily, I found some of the coordinating fabrics
were still available, and on sale even!

And so I have successfully used up another charm pack.
I haven't counted, but I think I have about 5 more to go.
And maybe that many layer cakes.
I'll get there.

We'll get back to why I said "maybe" in my next post...

Which may or may not require more eye-rolling on your part.

14 January 2017

A Fireside Chat: Layer Cakes

I'm spending a lot of time in front of a warm and toasty
fire this weekend.  I've heard some of the side streets
are a little icy but we found everything to be completely fine so far.
The rain has started but the temps are above freezing still.
 Bring it on.  We're prepared to just stay in all weekend,
stepping out only for Mass.

I really hoped to be cutting out the rest of a quilt and then start on
the piecing but the background fabric I ordered is darker than
I had hoped.  And I have another on the way.
(Not a big problem--I always need ivories!)
So, instead of the sewing room, this is my view.
Not bad, huh?
But I'm also watching the mailbox.

I'm excited about this next quilt.
I have a layer cake of reproduction fabrics that
I've been anxious to get into a quilt.  

I love to pick out fabric.
But sometimes I see a whole line that I want to work with.
Insert the pre-cut market.  Layer cakes, charm packs, et al.
A whole set of fabric pieces all coordinated and ready to go.
The sampler pack.
A box of all kinds of chocolates.

I just can't decide if I really like cakes and charms.
I love having that array of fabrics; I like seeing them out on my shelves.
Plus, there is a huge selection of patterns out there designed
around each size of precuts to choose from.

But here are my three big issues:

Accuracy just might be out the window.
They're cut with a zig-zag, or, pinked.
Straight edges can be precise.  Fuzzy zig zags can not.
And that zig zag is cut IN to my 1/4" seam allowance.  
All of this causes some real issues if you are trying to get, say, 
two or even 4 5-inch squares out of a layer cake--which is what
most layer-cake-specific patterns have you do.
And if you have to then cut those squares into triangles,
well, your triangles now have jagged points.
Personally, I'm into precision and this bothers me.

To cut two 5-inch squares above as accurately as possible,
I actually had to measure in from both sides.
(taking more time by the way)
Most squares were a pretty scant five inches.
We'll just have to see how this plays out.
(once I actually had some squares that were so under the said 10-inch measurement,
I had to cast those aside.  Fortunately, I didn't need the entire cake.
But, I still think that cake was defective.)

Can we just make the cuts a tiny bit bigger
so that we can measure from the "dip" of the zig zag
instead of from the "peak"?  Or, better yet, let's just go back
to straight edges.  Please.  And be slightly generous
so we can straighten up the imperfections that can happen
in mass production.  

I guess the moral here is, pick your pattern carefully.
If you need to cut your cake into 
5-inch squares,
you'll have no waste, and that's a great thing.
But beware there may be some pretty scant 5-inch squares.

Issue number two can come with any pre-cut.
We all just want to get the best use out of our piece of fabric.
The above is the waste I get with every square for my latest quilt.
So maybe this is directed more at pattern designers?
But I can see how it would be difficult to make all kinds of quilts
to "fit" specific precuts so, I get it.  I'm just thinking maybe
yardage might be a better choice for some patterns.
Fortunately, I've got log cabin plans so I think this might not be such
a big waste after all.  Or maybe I can figure a way to slip the 
scraps into the quilt border or backing.

Choice issues.
Inevitably, some of the fabrics are just not going to work.
I find that there are often some that are too light,
which is an issue I'm currently frustrated with.
Or, there are just too many lights.
Or too many darks.
And I really don't like when solids are thrown in.
To each their own but, for me, solids are boring and cold.
I have one quilt with a solid so it's not like I'm a hater.
They just aren't my choice.
One more problem here is that sometimes a print is just too big.
You might have one or two objects in a 10" square,
and then end up cutting them up.  Especially if they're off-centered.
Anyway, the moral here?  
It's just not a given that your layer cake will
work for every layer cake quilt.

Perhaps these are all just things to keep in mind when working
with layer cakes, charms, and all other pre-cuts?
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