Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Weekend With Friends

Jane was up to Betty's for the weekend and brought some hand stitching with her so I couldn't resist the invitation to join them for a bit. I worked on binding mom's Dresden Plate, which you saw last time, but it also gave me a chance to get some pics of projects that both of them are working on.

Earlier this winter one of Jane's nephews was left homeless after a fire destroyed his home. Thankfully he was unhurt, but all that he owned is gone, so she and Linda have started a Broken Dishes quilt for him in beautiful, rich paisleys and plaids.

The blocks are the same size as the baby quilt that I just finished but she is hand stitching hers. It is stunning!

How's this for a happy quilter?

Is it all that gorgeous fabric that makes her so happy, or the thought of the Hummingbird Cake that I made for dessert? Me thinks it might be a tie. I used the Cream Cheese Icing from the Silver Palate Cookbook instead of the one mentioned in the recipe and it was delicious - that hint of lemon really came through.

Betty has been busy quilting another amazing quilt and I've got some pics to share with you next time....M

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Unfinished Business

Sometimes we get lessons when we least expect them, and today was one of those days.

A few days ago I started to bind the Dresden Plate that mom made. It's been sitting patiently for almost a year waiting to be finished (yes, it can take me a while to work up to binding a quilt!). This one is huge but 434 inches later as I was happily looking at the finished product I realized that there was a little unfinished business to deal with - one corner was missing a flower. After practicing avoidance behaviour for years it was time to step up to the plate and try my hand at appliqué.

I remembered seeing the pieces for the blossoms all cut and stored in a little zip lock baggie somewhere, but a thorough rout of the sewing room produced nothing. Maybe I was just remembering seeing them from when mom was working on it...

Actually, I shouldn't say I found nothing. I found the box that mom had been using to store the quilt while she worked on it and there was everything in there except the blossoms - a copy of the pattern, tons of extra leaves, more sashing strips, extra fabric, and even a little spool of thread.

It was quite touching going through the box and it left me a little wistful. Mom had left notes and instructions and just seeing her handwriting again was very comforting. And it brought back great memories as well, including the fact that we had decided to change up the border (which explains all of the extra sashing); the sketch on the left is one that I had done up for her and I remember helping her lay the borders out shortly after we moved into our new home.

Still, despite all these treasures there were no blossoms cut and ready to sew. What to do?

I found the yellow that she had used for the flower centres and two pieces of the pink floral in the sashing so I ripped them out and sewed them together to create a square big enough to cut what I needed, but despite several digs through bags and boxes and shelves I could not produce any of the blue for the second layer. I finally found a close substitute and plunged head first into needle turn appliqué.

It took me a while and it's not perfect, but I think it came out quite nicely (mine is the bottom blossom); I now see why some find appliqué so addictive. This opens up a whole new world. YIKES! Can you imagine how long my TO DO list is going to be now?

Maybe it went so well because my little visitor for the day was there for moral support...

Anyway, it felt like it was meant to be and that, in some small way, mom was there guiding me through the steps. Maybe, maybe not, but it's a nice thought, and timely too; tomorrow is the anniversary of her death.

I gave the quilt a little test drive this afternoon and snuggled under it for a snooze on the sofa but now it moves to our bed for the summer. Such a long time coming....M

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Basket Case

Tiny basket quilt
Remember those HSTs that I've been making from the Hugs & Kisses trimmings? Well, they are proving to be perfect for making lovely little baskets.

I started pressing the seams on the smaller size and, of course, that meant I had to lay a few blocks out to see what they might look like.

And, since the white fabric was so close by, I cut a few strips for the edge pieces...

Tinly basket quilt blocks
and before you knew it there were three lovely little blocks. I cut yellow triangles to finish off the top row of the basket and might play around with adding additional colours to the mix - not sure yet.

I also need to figure out what to do with the top half of the block. If I add a handle I'll need to split the seam to tuck the ends in, but I'm thinking that it might be fun to appliqué (eek!) something in them instead. Or maybe yo yo flowers? I'll need to ponder this a bit.

Finished, the HST blocks are 1.25" and the entire block is about 8" in size. Sa-weet!....M

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Something Sweet

It's been years since I've made Bread Pudding but I recently came across this recipe and thought it sounded too good not to try; the Bourbon Sauce was the clincher.

It's based on a recipe from the famed Bon Ton Café in New Orleans and goes together really quickly - you just have to remember to begin macerating the raisins the day before.

To say that the sauce is loaded with bourbon is an understatement - and apparently the Bon Ton sauce has even more bourbon in it, which I cannot imagine... It is delicious but another time I would start with half the amount and see if it needed any more; I didn't see the 'to taste' notation until it was all in the pot. I think I'd also cut back on some of the sugar.

I'm not a bourbon aficionado so the final criteria for selecting one to use was the look of the bottle. How's that for sophistication?!

Not sure if the rows of quilting will be straight after a snack of this, but we'll give it a try....M

Monday, April 21, 2014

In The Pink

Hugs & Kisses quilt
I'd forgotten that there was a pink fabric included in this collection - I had set it aside thinking that it might be the backing - but since it would only be large enough for a baby quilt I've decided to incorporate it into the front instead and I'm really glad that I did - it's a nice addition.

My handy dandy green painter's tape is being used to give me a sewing guide to help me stay true to those diagonal sewing lines that I score with the Hera marker.

Cutting off and throwing away all of those corner triangles that result from the trimming just isn't in my DNA so I've added a few steps to the tutorial. It's a little hard to see, but I sew second line of stitching a scant half inch inside the first two rows of stitching and then I cut down the middle of the rows. When a block is finished I end up with 4 lovely HSTs, 2 that are about 1 3/4" and 2 more slightly smaller, so there is absolutely no waste, which I love.

HSTs hold so much potential but I'm thinking that these could be the beginning of some lovely little baskets.

Maybe  lots of different basket designs all in the same quilt. At any rate I've got the makings of at least two quilts when I thought  was only making one....M

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ready For Delivery

Jean's Broken Dishes baby quilt is all done and ready to be sent off to the expectant parents. It's bright and cheery and will be great for a little boy.

I had ordered some Wonder Clips back in January and so this was my first time trying them out.

Once I figured out that I had them on backwards (red side should be to the back) things improved considerably!

I think I need to get this one bundled up and sent off sooner rather than later because The Official Cookie Tester has really taken a shine to it and is dropping very strong hints that it would go well in our bedroom. He's not wrong.

It's amazing how different the blues come through in the daylight as compared to lamp light...M

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hugs 'n Kisses

Getting the guest bedroom ready for next weekend's Easter company gets all the credit for my latest project. I was cleaning off the bed and had to put away a collection of fat quarters that I had washed and ironed when I started the blue baby quilt, and this is where they had landed.

A couple of years ago I ordered a collection, which is unusual for me because I don't like things that matchy-matchy, but I really liked the graphic look of them. Every now and then I'd give them a sideways glance, but I was really trying to get a few projects put to bed, so to speak, before I dug into these.

The pattern is called Hugs 'n Kisses and I found it, and a tutorial on Pinterest. Looks like I might be a little behind the times because the tutorial was posted about 3 years ago. So me. Anyway, once I had the fabrics in my hand I thought, 'Where's the trouble in just trying a block or two?'

That led to this...

And then this...

Hugs & Kisses Quilt
And then this.

You get the idea.

The blocks are 5" square and the tutorial is very and easy to follow - the only thing I'm doing differently is scoring the sewing lines with my Hera marker rather than a pen or pencil to avoid any marks working their way through to the right side of the fabrics over time.

I'm not going to use the striped fabric that came with the collection and I've switched up the yellow for a yellow gingham and then added a few more of my own. So many of my fabrics are a completely different genre so I'm just going to sew and let the fabric decide for me how the quilt will be. So much for resolve....M

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Baby Steps

I'm closing in on the last of the Broken Dishes baby quilt, but have taken a few sidesteps along the way so it is taking me longer to finish it up than it probably should. The bias binding is now cut (with all of my fingers still in tact this time) and applied, I just have to do the hand sewing.

It's always a bit of an exercise for me to work up to making the binding for some reason, so while I was in the zone I decided to tend to some unfinished business and cut the binding for the Dresden Plate that mom made - this one is waaaay overdue in getting the binding on it but it will be nice to put on the bed now that Spring is coming.

Then I enjoyed a friendly tug of war with it to get the binding sewn to the quilt - this quilt is just HUGE! In the end I won and it was well worth it because I think it's going to really finish off the quilt nicely, so there is a second one that I have ready for hand sewing.

And, since the gals at the church will likely soon have the quilting on my Goose Tracks finished, I decided I might as well get the pink binding for that one ready as well....M

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Accident-al Quilter

Blue Broken Dishes baby quilt
Some days it goes your way and some days it just goes so wrong. I was on a roll with the baby quilt, finishing up the machine quilting, when I discovered a little surprise.

As I was admiring the quilting design on the back my caught sight of...a little spec of green. What the...?!

Somewhere along the line I had picked up and sewn a green scrap to the back of the quilt. Sheesh. Time for the ripper and a little more stitching, but it's finished now and I quite like it.

Undeterred, I thought I'd start cutting the bias binding strips. Not quite sure where my head was (or my finger, for that matter) because about 3 slices in I managed to run the rotary blade through both the index finger and the base of my fingernail nail on my right hand. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Blue baby quilt - Broken Dishes
Thankfully no blood was spilled (on the quilt at least) and all sharp objects have been put away for the day to protect me from myself...M

Sunday, April 06, 2014

A Culinary Diversion

I've been dividing my time between machine quilting Broken Plates and hand quilting Confetti and decided that I needed a little diversion. Spring is apparently on its way, though you wouldn't necessarily guess that from the blanket of white that still covers the ground, and it got me to thinking of all things Spring, and rhubarb in particular.

There are still several bags of rhubarb in the freezer from last year so my mission in life came to be finding a new rhubarb recipe to help use them up. The New York Times to the rescue! This upside down cake seemed to be calling my name, and I'm so glad that it did. From the lemony cake to the sour cream to the yummy sweet/tart rhubarb topping - it hit all the high notes. A warm slice topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream was met with rave reviews by The Official Cookie Tester.

If you like rhubarb I'd suggest putting this on your list. One note about the flour. I bake a lot but have to say that I haven't had particular luck with cake & pastry flour. When I saw that this recipe called for cake flour I hesitated a bit but decided to go ahead with it. The Official Cookie Tester ran a few errands for me, including picking up some flour, but it was self-rising, so after a little Googling I found a way to modify all-purpose flour to get the same effect, something you might want to try if you find yourself in the same predicament.

We return you now to regular programming....M