Archives for June 2012

Zig-Zag Quilt

I’ve had this quilt finished for quite some time yet never took a picture of it.  After it came out of the washer, it went straight on our bed and has been there ever since.  We both love it as a bed quilt because I made it larger than a normal queen size.

My husband is over six feet tall, and he usually untucks blankets from the bottom of the mattress almost immediately.  This one is almost 120″ long, so there’s a good foot and a half to tuck under the mattress, which keeps our bed nice and neat without having to remake the whole thing every morning.

There’s also a little extra on the sides for when he steals the covers during the night.  This keeps me happy.

The last part that I love about this quilt for a bed quilt is that it’s really soft.  It’s hand quilted, which gives it added softness, and I used Hobb’s Heirloom batting instead of my normal Warm & Natural.  The Hobbs is a bit lighter, and more loosely woven, which promotes the softness.  It’s great for a summer weight quilt.  I still love Warm & Natural, too, because it gives it more of a traditional weight, and it’s warmer, which is better for the winter.  It really all depends on the intended use for the quilt as to which I prefer.

Anyhow, I chose to follow the zig zags for the quilting and to use a teal colored crochet thread (size 10).  It shows off the hand quilting and adds a nice design element to the quilt.  The back especially shows off the quilted design.

I chose to bind the quilt in a coordinating solid mainly because I used every last scrap of print fabric in the quilt itself.  The back has some leftover zig zag pieces.  I would have liked to make them into zig zags, but I didn’t have enough left, so I made a checkerboard pattern instead.  Regardless, I like that the solid binding pulls out the green color and matches the quilting thread.

I originally bought this fabric to make a cathedral window quilt.  I bought it at least ten years ago from Joann’s.  I liked the stained glass look for that type of quilt, but I never made the quilt, and then I decided if I ever do make a cathedral window quilt, I’d rather have something else in the centers.  So, in an effort to clean out my stash a bit, this quilt was born.  I used a no-triangle piecing method (a good tutorial  can be found here, although my quilt is much larger).  The no-triangle method is easy, shortens cutting time, and chain pieces quickly.  If you have larger or directional prints, it’s easy to see the lines, but for smaller, busier prints, it works great.

I’ll be showing this at the fair this year in the hand-quilted category.  Until then, it will stay at home on our bed.

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An antique quilt

I picked this up from a secondhand store several years ago.  I love antiques, and the owner would buy estates full of furniture, open his store Thursday-Saturday and sell everything he had bought the week before.  His goal was to move stuff quickly, so prices were always great.  I bought the majority of my antique furniture there– some in better shape than others (enter my dad, furniture restorer extraordinaire).

This quilt happened to be in there, and it was actually from the owner’s family, and he just wanted to get rid of it.  It was really dirty, but other than that, it was in pretty good shape.  He sold it to me for $20– yes, $20!!  I threw it in the washer and figured if it came out worse than it went in, than I hadn’t lost too much.

It came out quite clean, with no major stains.  The fabric is a little worn in some spots, and in the top left star, there are two spots where it has worn through.  If it becomes an issue, I can fix this at some point, but the batting isn’t raveling out, so for now I’m just leaving it.  Even with these worn spots, I was thrilled with how it came out of the washer.  Once it was clean, it was a lot easier to see the design and stitching, which is amazing, really.  This is heavily quilted, by hand of course.  It fits a full size bed.

Whenever I look at it, I have trouble imagining how much time it must have taken to quilt all of it by hand.  I’ve hand-quilted before myself, but these stitches are no more than a centimeter apart over the entire quilt.  I would never have had the patience for that much quilting on one piece.  I love this quilt for the time put into it alone.

I’ll be showing this at the fair this year, and I’ll let you know how it goes!

A scrap baby quilt

This little baby quilt was made out of scraps from my recent King size wonky star quilt.  I accidentally made an extra long strip for the back of that quilt that I didn’t need.  So, I cut it into thirds, added a few other stripes, and voila– a modern baby quilt.

It’s nice and bright, and it would be great for a girl.  I thought about keeping it on hand as a quick baby gift, but I already have a small stash of baby quilts, so I think I might try to sell this one.  I know someone locally who has a handmade gifts shop, and she’s expressed interest in selling my quilts, so this might be one of the ones I take.

Making my own wedding cake

My own wedding was almost six years ago, well before I started blogging.  However, my recent posts about other cakes made me decide to do a quick recap of my own wedding cake.

I decided to do my own cake first because it would be much cheaper, but second because the only wedding cake bakery in town (other than walmart or a grocery store, and I was not going to go to one of those) was the one I worked at, so I could, in theory, end up doing my own cake there anyway.  Also, if I did my own, I would get exactly what I wanted, and I’d be in total control, so there would be no surprises.  While I wasn’t picky about everything, cakes are one of my “things” so I knew I would be harder to please than the average person if we ordered it somewhere else.

I was very happy with the result.  The most time consuming part was making all of the green fondant sprigs.  it took literally hours of rolling them out into snakes and winding them around straws.  I won’t ever do those again, and if someone does want them, I’ll be charging by the hour!

The rest of the cake was very easy, and I chose a setup that was very sturdy and stable since I knew I would set it up the day before the wedding, and it was going to sit overnight by itself.  It stayed perfectly, and I didn’t have any problems the next day.

The other major cake undertaking was making a mini wedding cake for each table as the centerpiece.  I then made a small cake box for the guests to cut the cake to take a piece home as the party favor.  The centerpieces were all yellow cake with chocolate fudge filling.  I decorated each one differently but all with a pink and white color scheme.  I made these in the week prior to the wedding, and we boxed, saran wrapped, and froze each cake. 

The day before the wedding, we set them all out on crystal pedestal cake plates (also all different, collected both from relatives, and goodwill), and they thawed overnight.  Some of the pictures look “wet,” because of the condensation while thawing, but the next day they looked totally normal, and tasted as if they’d never been frozen in the first place.  Luckily, this worked well because I hadn’t personally frozen a frosted cake before, but we had at the bakery where I worked, and I assumed if it worked for them, it would work for me.

My husband was a huge help in making the centerpieces.  We both had the week prior to the wedding off work, so I taught him how to make icing, and he kept me supplied with frosting while I worked– what a guy!

June Bee Blocks

We Bee Learning– This block is a traditional block known by many names (churn dash is the one I know it by).  A 30s reproduction print was requested.  I’m not sure this is exactly that, but it’s kind of close, and it’s the best I had in my stash, which is the basis of this bee, so I went with it.

99 Bee– She chose “On the Plus Side” for her block.  I tried this block once before, but it turned out too large.  My seams were apparently too small, and when there are this many in a block, it makes a big difference.  So, this time around, I took slightly larger seams, and it turned out perfectly.  I really do like this block, and I’d love to make a whole quilt out of it, but I think I would pull my hair out by the time it was finished.  All those little seams are pretty tedious.

Stash Bee– This month, she asked for crystal shapes on black.  It will be interesting to see what this quilt looks like when it’s all put together.  It’s not exactly my style, but I think it might look kind of cool once it’s all together.  For some reason, I really hated the whole crystal making process.  I used paper piecing to make these, but I wasn’t fond of how precise the points had to be to look right and how many tiny little fabric pieces I had to use to get them to look right.  I had planned to put on a third one, but after the second was done, I threw in the towel.  She didn’t specify a number, so I just went with two– all I can say is I’m glad this block is finished!


Baby boy nursery progress


I’m slowly making progress on the bedding set I’m making for my new baby’s room.  It won’t be needed (most likely) until late September, so I have plenty of time, but I also don’t want to leave it until the last minute.

Above is the bumper I made.  It’s fairly simple.  I used charm squares that I cut from yardage and added white to make an offset row of charms.  I wanted to keep it simple to show off the prints, and I’m very happy with the way this turned out.  I used cotton batting on either side of a thick poly batting, so this is quite thick.  I used the walking foot to quilt along the line of every charm square, and it turned out almost exactly like the bumper that came in my oldest boy’s crib set, so it should stand up in the crib and perform quite well. 

I’ve also finished the valances.  These need some ironing, but I’m not going to bother with it until I’m ready to hang them up.  I have the curtain panels mostly done, too, but I think I’m going to applique something on them, so they’re not technically finished.  These valances will be slightly gathered, and they have orange vents with ties up top every so often.

This is the crib skirt, and it matches the design on the bumper.  It’s simple as well, but I’m also very happy with how it turned out.  The fitted sheets are made out of the tree/dog/swing print, so the bedding part will go together nicely, I think.

The fitted sheets are finished as well, but there’s not much to see there, so I didn’t take a picture.  I have part of the quilt completed, too, but I want a solid to match a particular color in the prints, and I’m waiting for my brand new Kona color card to arrive before ordering.

I hated to spend $25 on a fabric swatch card, but I’ve already spent that much by buying fabric online that I think will match only to have to reorder because it didn’t.  Colors are never accurate on a computer screen, and I’m tired of playing a guessing game.  My local quilt shops don’t carry a wide range of solids, and prices are much better online anyway, so I think this color card is a good investment.  Once it arrives, I’ll be finishing the baby quilt as soon as I can order my (matching!) solid fabric.

It’s a boy! My sewing plans for the new nursery

Although this will be our second boy, and although deep down I was hoping for a girl, the new fabrics I’ve chosen for the nursery have perked me back up.  Initially, if it was a boy, I had planned to reuse my son’s bedding and his room decorations and move my oldest little boy into the new room.

We’ve since decided against that for several reasons, but one reason is that I think it’s important for me to fix up a room for the new baby, just like I would have done if he had been a girl.  For me the creative process of decorating is a big part of the excitement of a new baby, so this gives me something to look forward to and something new to do since we won’t be doing much other shopping at all because we can reuse all my son’s clothes and paraphernalia.

At first I thought I’d use Michael Miller’s “Children at Play” fabric since I love that line and had already begun a quilt with that for my older boy but had never finished it.  However our glider is a green checked print, and the colors would totally clash.

Then I remembered I had bought some Michael Miller “Backyard Baby” fabric a few months ago.  I paid full quilt shop price at the time (which is rare for me!) because I fell in love with it when I saw it.  I had no intended purpose at the time other than as a gift for someone eventually.  I’m really excited that I get to use it for my own little boy now!

I just ordered all the extra fabric that I’ll need to do the whole room from bedding to curtains, and I only spent $60.  I’m even making the sheets.  I was honestly quite surprised at how economic this is, considering I’m using designer fabric.  We spent $120 for my older son’s bedding, and it was one of the cheaper sets from Target!  The nice thing about making the bedding is that it will be exactly how I want it to be, and he’ll be able to keep the baby quilt that I made for him.

I plan to turn the “Children at Play” quilt into a smaller car quilt for this new baby.  My other son has a Dr. Seuss car quilt, so now they’ll both have their own.  It’s also nice to have a larger blanket stored in the car in case we go to someone’s house, and I need a play mat of sorts for the baby.

Part of me feels silly and wasteful for making all new bedding when the bedding we already have is in perfectly good shape.  However, sometimes it’s okay not to be practical.  I want to have the same excitement and energy about this baby as I did with my first one, and even though he won’t understand it at all, I want him to have something of his own.  It’s all for me, of course, but I’m okay with that.  I’m being practical with clothing and gear, so I’m letting myself splurge on the quilting/sewing/decorating end. :)

I’ll post updates as I work on the different bedding components.  I doubt it will take me too long to finish, and since it’s a boy and not a girl, the nursery is really my only baby project.  For some reason I just don’t get much satisfaction out of sewing clothes for a boy.  Now dresses on the other hand… oh well, maybe someday.

Wonky 9-Patch for a baby boy

I posted here previously about my first attempt at the wonky 9-patch.  It was much easier than I expected, and I’m sure I’ll be using this in the future when I need a quick quilt.

I chose this dog fabric because I have a TON of it, so I decided also to use it for the back.  I love printed backs, but usually I don’t want to use so much my precious/expensive fabric at once.  In this case, I’m trying to reduce my six yard stash, so printed back it is!

This quilt is for a friend at my church who’s having her first little boy.  While I have no idea what his room is like, I really don’t think it matters if it matches or not.  I use these type of quilts as play mats at other people’s houses, car quilts when it gets really cold, or as covers for infant carriers when going from the car into a store.  In my mind, they’re toss-around, useful blankets.

I do know that this family likes dogs– they have two, so I thought this fabric would be appropriate.  I’m giving it to her at her shower along with a couple other little gifts.  Hopefully she likes it!

A wedding cake DISASTER

I’ve been doing wedding cakes, both at a bakery and on my own for over ten years now.  In fact, I’ve even made this particular cake three different times already. Fortunately, I’ve never had anything dreadful happen…until yesterday.

I was making this cake for my brother-in-law’s wedding in which my husband was a groomsman, and my little boy was the ring bearer.  The wedding was over an hour away from my home, and I had about an hour window in which to set up the cake before I had to take my little boy in for pictures (my husband had to be there earlier).

On the way there, the highway we were traveling on was unexpectedly closed.  Unfortunately, the detour took us on some very twisty, very bumpy country roads.  This was the result:

And a close up of the carnage:

I didn’t find out what had happened until we arrived at my sister-in-law’s house.  She was going to babysit my little boy while I went to set up the cake.  At that point, I was starting to panic.  From that far away, there was no way to make another cake or even more icing (I had brought my standard bag full of icing to fix minor issues).  My sister-in-law has a small mixer not capable of making icing, and no cake pans the right size, and all of this occurred in Indianapolis, with heavy traffic, which meant that buying supplies would take literally hours.  In short, there was no way to replace the very damaged cake.

I kept calm for the most part and tried to assess the damage.  The tier that did a face plant was salvageable, thank goodness.  The chocolate one, on the other hand, was not so lucky.  I wanted to try to find a styrofoam dummy cake and decorate it, but I didn’t have enough icing or supplies for a cake that big.  My mother-in-law was the one who came up with the solution:  put it up on pillars.  I needed more height since it was the back tower.  I’m not sure she even understood the mechanics of it all, but nonetheless, once she mentioned pillars, the somewhat obvious solution just worked itself out in my head.  I ran with the idea, and this is how it ended up:

If you didn’t know there had been a problem, you’d probably never be able to tell something went wrong.  The chocolate cake was supposed to be in the very back, and the back cake up on pillars should have been stacked directly on that chocolate cake. 

The bride doesn’t yet know (her groom does, but I swore him to secrecy at least until after the wedding), but I’m still hopeful that she won’t find out for a while.  She was a bride concerned with everything going perfectly.  Of all weddings for this to happen on, this was one of the most difficult.  First, I was much further away from home than I usually am.  If it had been in my city, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place because the transport time wouldn’t have been as long, and even if it had, I would have been able to bake and decorate a new one in time for the wedding.  My little boy as a ring bearer also complicated things. 

Still, everything worked out in the end, and hopefully this will be the last of my bad cake luck for a while!  To end on a good note, here are some ring bearer pictures.  He was pretty grumpy by the time we drove another hour to get to the picture site:

Although, once the snacks came out, he was a happy camper. 

Snacks make everything better, don’t they?  We were so rushed between the cake issues and pictures that neither my husband nor I ate all day long.  Around 5:00, I sent my husband out to the van for something, and he came back in licking his fingers and told me the cake was good.  He had grabbed a snack off the van floor– ick!  Talk about desperation.