Monday, April 30, 2012

Finished Weekend Project - Floor Mat.

I'd seen a couple of tutorials for floor mats, and I thought I'd try one out.  Our floor is cork and pretty comfy, so it's not that I spend long hours in front of the kitchen sink suffering, but it seems like a fun idea to have at least one quilted project in each room.   I was wondering what to do with the Apple of My Eye jelly roll, and this seemed like a perfect chance to try working with it.

Avignon Picnic
 I got my inspiration from the Avignon Picnic pattern I found on Moda Bake Shop after seeing a lovely version of it on another blog.  I really appreciate the great tutorials you can find there, and actually have plans to try a few more of their patterns soon.  I didn't end up using the arrangement they had, but it provided a great starting point to come up with my own version and feel like I was actually being a bit creative.

Top of floor mat

 Now I know white isn't practical, but neither am I, so it worked out.  I am sure this will be going in the wash a lot, which is OK.  I suppose it will encourage me to compost all my coffee grounds, otherwise they'll be passing over this on a daily basis on the way to the garbage can!  Everything didn't line up perfectly, but I'm satisfied at my first foray into doing something that involved a bit more of a traditional piecing technique.

I decided to make a double sided version instead of putting a non slip backing on it.  I wanted something a bit more modern.  I decided to pick three Pezzy Print charms and build something around that, using a couple of solids from Apple of My Eye, and some scraps of Anna Maria Horner Loulouthi, Summer Totem Tart I had left from the queen quilt I still have in progress.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ali makes Friday Dinner

I realize blogging about making things should extend beyond crafting.  I may as well combine my fetish with taking blurry photos with my cooking and blogging habits.  Last year I'd gotten the bug to learn to make pasta for after reading about it at the kitchn.  My in-laws were awesome enough to give me the atlas pasta machine I'd had on my amazon wishlist for Christmas, so I got to work.  I've made it a half a dozen times so far, although I sure don't mix it by hand. It IS easy, and I don't really see how you could go wrong.  In 30 minutes you can have pasta for four ready to cook, and 20 minutes of that is letting the dough rest. 

pasta to be
After a long ago culinary education (during which for some reason I never learned to make pasta), I realized why I cook and avoid baking - you don't need a recipe to cook, but if you're even a bit off ratios/process in baking, everything can go to hell in a hand-basket.  If you've read my posts about quilting you'll see being meticulous isn't my strong suit.  I thought pasta would be like baking, but it's not at all.  You can make it with nothing more than flour and water, and you don't have to be exact at all.

3 of 4 pasta balls ready to roll
I thought I'd spare my husband from being forced to eat hot dogs for dinner, so during a sewing break I headed to the kitchen. This time I measured a cup of all purpose flour, threw about a quarter cup of semolina flour (makes it a bit more toothsome & filling which is nice when it's the main course), an egg, 1/4 teaspoon salt,  and a few tablespoons of water.  I generally have added a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, but I didn't this time.  Pasta is forgiving - while mixing if it's too dry you just add a bit more liquid, too wet you can just throw in more flour.  If you go to put it through a machine and it's sticky, you just dust it with flour as needed and it still turns out just right.

herb butter with truffle oil
Five minutes in the mixer with the dough hook and it was resting (covered in plastic wrap, contrary to the above photo).  We had a mild winter so I went outside to harvest some herbs.  I got a food processor last month so whipped up some herb butter for rolls.  I mixed in some truffle oil. (Totally decadent huh? Well we got it from Italy several years ago, and there's no reason on earth it shouldn't have been used by now - even refrigerated it can't last forever you know? So I'm trying to throw it into random things.)

I Pulled a couple of homemade potato thyme rolls from the freezer - I don't love to bake but it doesn't stop me.  Started some pasta sauce by sauteing some herbs and sweet onion in some more truffle oil. Then I dumped in a jar of Prego. Yep.   Listen husband, I'd love to spend all day in the kitchen making you everything from scratch but let's be real, I have quilting to do.  At least I added a bay leaf and red pepper flakes!

After 20 minutes I rolled the pasta out then cut it into linguine with the atlas machine. Fresh pasta only takes about 2 minutes to cook, which is something I love about it.  I cooked half for our dinner and covered and refrigerated the rest, making sure it was well floured so it wont stick together.  It's best eaten within two days, and it's smart to check it each day to make sure moisture isn't condensing and making it stick together.

Working on the Patchwork Prism QAL

Tzatziki stalks my quilt
 I have three cats.  That means if I leave the room for five minutes and there's fabric on the ground, when I come back everything has been mysteriously rearranged on the hardwood floor during a game of slip and slide.  After a few days of this I finally moved the furniture off my living room rug and put my triangles there which helped some.  I weighted the quilt pieces down with plates, jars, boxes, ANYTHING to keep things where they were, and the little buggers still moved anything that wasn’t nailed down.

Ponzu stalks my quilt
 That might explain why I actually didn’t make sure everything was in place before I started sewing things together.  I didn't really even get a look at it in it’s entirety so I could tell just how it was going to end up. In fact all I saw when I looked at the floor was that fact that I better hurry up and start putting things together if I wanted to have anything to eat dinner off of this week.  I tried taking pictures of sections so if things got scattered around I’d be able to figure out how to put it together.  When I was sure of an area I’d sew anywhere from 3-6 pieces together so they wouldn’t get shuffled around anymore.

Wasabi knows better than to stalk while I'm in the room

Thursday, April 26, 2012

DIY Bath Bombs

I have a love affair with Lush’s bath bombs.  I also don’t really have the budget to spend $5-6 per bath (and I love me some baths).  Sure, I usually get thrifty with the large ones and cut them in half, but I knew there were recipes to make your own. I’d been procrastinating for months, stuck on an internal debate about how much citric acid to get.  Luckily after splurging at for the holiday season (admittedly some of it was for Christmas presents), I knew I had to kick the habit.  There’s no need to waste money, and I make stuff. Says so right in my blog title…

I picked up the things I could from the supermarket, and ordered the rest of the necessities from, including a 2" silicone ice cube tray.  I decided I would make some existing recipes and then tinker with them until I found the perfect mix. I’ve tried two recipes to start.

Bath Bomb #1
This has a great step by step tutorial with pictures. I used my flour sifter to make sure there were no lumps in my ingredients.  I used a LOT of orange food color, almond oil for my oil, and a combination of essential oils (sweet orange, lemon, lemongrass & neroli) that added up to about 2 tsp. I'd read that if you used a silicone mold you should let them sit overnight to ensure enough moisture had evaporated to form a solid bomb before removing them, so I let them sit for 24 hours.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 review

I thought I'd write mini reviews of some of the shops I order from.

Even though I haven't actually received an order per se, I'm starting with The Fat Quarter Shop  for two reasons, one is they are participating in the patchwork prism QAL that I am doing by giving a 20% discount with coupon code AnnaMariaQAL from April 24th until May 8th.  Reason two is because I won a jelly roll/rolie polie from a giveaway they sponsored at

There were two jelly rolls given away and I was the lucky winner of the Apple of my Eye one by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake Designs (what a mouthful!) Now I've never worked with charm squares or layer cakes or jelly rolls before so they've remained a bit of a mystery to me, but now I know jelly rolls are 2.5" wide strips of fabric that run the length of the fabric, which is generally 44-45" for quilting fabric.  The roll includes all 24 prints in the apple of my eye line.

So I got the emails from Susan telling me I was a winner on her blog, and Stephanie at the FQS asking for my information on Friday.  The jelly roll arrived on MONDAY. The fact that they're so prompt about shipping something I didn't even pay for bodes really well for them. I know I can get frustrated when I order fabric and it doesn't even ship for several days.  The jelly roll was protected with a small sealed plastic bag too so the fabric was still pristine.

Patchwork Prism QAL

Sweet diesel designs is doing a quilt-a-long that starts today.   I am going to do it - why, I don’t know (oh I do, it's for the really unlikely chance that my quilting skills trump a couple hundred more experiences quilters and I end up with an amazing quilt that wins me a new sewing machine that can actually be used for quilting).
The quilt that is the focus of the QAL is a pattern made by Anna Maria Horner for Janome

The schedule is the following
  • april 24: choosing your fabric
  • may 8: making templates and cutting your fabric
  • may 22: laying out your quilt and sewing
  • june 5: quilting
  • june 12: wrapping it all up and then the party begins…linky party that is…
  • june 26: submissions are due for the grand prizes!
I've got a jump on cutting some of my fabric.  I complained in the past that I've no idea how I'm supposed to make amazing quilts without a stash of great (and coordinating) fabrics. Luckily with my fabric order for an upcoming quilt I'm working on gave me more options, but I realize that there is a big flaw in my purchasing.  I am irresistibly drawn to bold and bright prints, both in fabric and clothing.  I can pick solids, but I overlook buying coordinating smaller prints -  the only reason I really have any at all are because some came in the fat quarter bundles I got.

If I was in doubt of this, it was confirmed when I started browsing around to check out the "storyboards" of fabrics I have bought.  One example is above. I purchased the two larger scale prints from the Stork Maman line, and it wouldn't have occurred to me to get any of those other seven fabrics because they don't scream "I'M SO PRETTY!!!! I am going to have to really pay attention to this in the future.

I'd just buy bundles but:
1. they are more expensive per yard
2. there's always a couple fabrics in them that I don't like

I can tell this will be my biggest challenge with this QAL. That quilt is nice to look at partially because it is made up of so many lovely subtle designs, and most of my fabrics are going to be fighting for attention with each other.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ali makes her first big quilt: Part One (loulouthi tiles)

So I’m 95% finished with this. Why am I stuck?
  1. I have a sewing machine that's great for apparel, but I can’t get that much of a queen sized quilt shoved in there, which means there's quite a bit of hand quilting to do if I want it secured together.
  2. I didn’t measure well. I decided instead of a solid back I’d get all fancy and put a strip of fabric panels along the top of it so if I fold it over it will look all purdy. I was one rectangular panel short. Did I wait to put my quilt together until I fixed that problem? Of COURSE not - I mean, I'd already gotten the backing all wrinkle free on the ground and the batting was just waiting eagerly... so I basted around most of it (quilt top, batting, backing) except where I need to add that last panel on the edge by I can get back to #1 on this list.
I was following the Loulouthi Tiles quilt PDF from Stitched in Color, as I mentioned.  I needed one slightly bigger than the largest quilt, closer to a king size (hubby rolls clockwise in his sleep and it tends to rotate the covers across to his side, ya know, so I need to ensure I stay warm at night).   That meant I had to tinker with the pattern which made me a bit nervous.
I was overwhelmed by the idea of putting this together, so before I started, I got a bit crazy, and printed out to-scale pictures of the fabrics I was planning on using, and made a paper mock up of what I expected the finished project might look like. And although I skipped a couple of these fabrics, and arranged it differently, this is more or less how it's turning out.

not too shabby for paper!
I actually had a lot of fun making the paper template. It hasn't been quite as much fun putting the actual quilt together ;)  Now if I can just finish it up in the next week or so I'll be a happy camper.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lap Quilt

So this is my first completed quilted project that I wrapped up a few weeks ago.  I have to say I never thought I’d quilt.  I’ve been sewing apparel (mostly badly) for a year, and sure I'd seen a pretty quilt or pillow here or there, but I never thought I'd be spending hours pouring over blogs excited to find out just how variable the quilting world is.

Somehow I wandered across the Stitched in Color blog and saw this quilt - Loulouthi Tiles.

Well I know HOW I got there.  I kept trying to buy beautiful quilting fabrics to make clothes with.  I made a really wrinkle prone, if cute, top.  I made the most comfortable bathrobe ever with a Kaffe Fassett paperweight (I can be wrinkly as I want in private!)  I let my Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner purchases just sit in my boxes of fabric though, hoping against hope that one day I would wake up to find that quilting cottons had suddenly become practical to wear.

I kept Googling images of some of my favorite quilting fabrics anyway though, and that is how I arrived at finding pictures of that quilt, a PDF tutorial for it that Rachel was lovely enough to put together, and the realization that it was time to brighten up my bedroom.  When I saw it I fell a little bit in love. I'd coveted some of the prints she'd used in it for awhile. I thought I would jump right in and make a queen sized quilt for the bedroom, but I read advice (and LISTENED for once!) that you should start small so if you ended up deciding it wasn’t for you, you weren’t stuck with a giant UFO project crammed in the back of your closet.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Starting Somewhere

 I figure I have to start somewhere, so here it goes.

I'd gotten the bulk of the fabric I needed for a quilt I'm working on from a week ago & was just waiting for the rest to arrive from I thought I would give their Free Spirit/Westminster Half-Yard Assortment a try.  One of the obvious weaknesses of a person new to quilting is that you don't have a stash.  On every blog I subscribe to, so many people seem to have a magical never ending assortment of delicious goodies to quilt with (and/or the ability to shop up a storm!)  I figured I couldn’t go too wrong with 7.5 yards for $30. I couldn't find much information on the web about what people get with it, so I thought I’d share what came in my bundle.

Most of these aren’t things I’d choose on purpose (or accident!), but I had a 20% off coupon code, and got 4% cash back from, so I was still glad I ordered it. I figure I can get away with using most of them in my first ever quilt-a-long for the Patchwork Prism quilt. also netted me a few fun prints I'd been thinking of, come cut rate sale stuff and some kona solids, including a flannel for the aforementioned quilt backing... and I can tell now I really will be needing to work on my photography skills.

So I pre-washed everything and I’m waiting for the dryer to finish.  Not particularly looking forward to the ironing phase, I swear I spent an entire evening ironing my fat quarters and other items from the last order!  Seems to be one benefit to sewing apparel instead of quilting.