Friday, June 13, 2014

20 Random Facts About Me

I kind of introduced myself in my first blog post but thought that I would do something a bit of the same, but a little bit different. Hope that makes sense to you. So here goes:

1. I have been happily married to the same man for 35 years. We actually just had our 35th wedding anniversary this week.
2. I love the color green. It is probably my absolute most favorite color.
3. I work a day job at a local business not far from where I live. Sewing is what I do when I get home and on my days off. That is where my passion lies.
4. I have three grandkids who are the light of my life. Thank you, daughter!!!
5. I’m a procrastinator.
6. I hate scary movies.
7. I’m a sap for sad ones. I won’t watch them with anyone other than my husband because I bawl like a baby.
8. I like total silence when I sleep.
9. I love, love, love ooey, gooey chocolately desserts!!!
10. I can play the tambourine.
11. My favorite runners are Nike
12. I hated my first pair of glasses so much that I used to put them in my bookbag when I left home in the morning and wouldn’t put them on anymore until I went home.
13. I can’t eat bananas.
14. My middle name is Jean.
15. I eat Multigrain Cheerios every morning for breakfast.
16. I love walking on the beach.
17. I hate winter.
18. I’m not a jewelry person. I wear earrings, my wedding rings and a ring my mom and dad gave me for Christmas when I was 14. That’s it!!!
19. I hate wearing socks!
20. I like almost anything when it comes to music except heavy metal.

So, that’s it. 20 random, (and useless) facts about me. I hope you know me a little better now. I’d love to hear some random facts about you if you’d care to share!

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Monday, June 2, 2014

My Version of the Disappearing Nine Patch

Sorry for having missed the last couple of weeks. My husband had surgery, my grandson had a birthday so we were away for a couple of days and life in general kind of got in the way of blogging.

I’ve been working on a disappearing nine patch. I don’t have it quite finished yet but I figured I would share what I have done. Most people incorporate a strip behind their blocks when they are doing this quilt but as usual, I decided to be a little different and not do that. Not sure if that was a good move or a bad one but so far I’m liking the way it’s turning out.

The fabric I used for this quilt is from the Thistleberry Collection by Fabric Editions. I won it in a giveaway and have to say that I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. It is a gorgeous fabric and really lovely to work with. 
 I cut my blocks into 5 X 5 squares. 
Then I tried to decide which way I wanted to lay them out. I then decided that I wasn’t going to be particular about the order because after all the cutting I would have to do, they weren’t going to appear in the same sequence anyway.
The one thing I will stress when you’re quilting (or actually doing anything related to sewing) is to have your steam iron on. I iron everything. It’s the way to keep everything from looking bulky and lumpy. 
I sewed my 5 X 5 blocks together in rows of 3 and ironed the seams between each one as I finished them. Separate them to each side to reduce bulk. Here is a photo of the full block finished looking at it from the back. 
Lay your block out and cut from one corner to the other. Don’t separate your triangles after making this cut. 
Take your ruler and cut the other way. You now have 4 triangles. 
Now, match two of your triangles up and sew them together being careful to match up the seams. 
Do this until you have the desired amount of blocks that you want to get the size of quilt you are planning to make. Then sew your blocks together to make strips. I sewed mine 5 blocks across and 6 blocks down. Again, be very careful to match up your seams and remember to iron them open on the back of each block as you finish. I also sewed a length of light fabric around each side of mine for contrast but it’s not necessary to do this if you don’t wish to.
Prepare the back of your quilt. I used three strips of different fabric to make mine. Iron your fabric open on the seams. (Yes, I know I’m repeating myself but I really want to stress how important it is to iron)

Now this is the hard part. This is how I put my quilt together for finished sewing. Find a large place that you can spread your quilt out so that it will lay flat. I use the floor. Lay your back out right side down. Tape a couple pieces of masking tape to one side. Then start and pull the rumples out of your back, taping as you go. Don’t pull too hard to stretch the fabric as this will result in wrinkles when you finish. Tape on your straight edges, not on the bias. Taping on the bias causes your fabric to stretch and creates rumples in your fabric.

When you have your backing prepared, lay out your batting. I like to have my back and batting at least 4 to 6 inches wider and longer than the top of my quilt. Smooth the wrinkles out of your batting. Lay your quilt top out. Start in the middle and begin pinning, smoothing out the rumples as you go. Pin small sections at a time. Depending on your preference, you may want to use a few pins or a lot. I go somewhere in between. 

When you have your quilt all pinned, lay your hand on the quilt and gently smooth between the pins. If you get bulk between them, pull the pins out and redo. The quilt should stay smooth between each pin. If it does, then you are ready to complete the sewing of your quilt.

This is as far as I’ve come with my quilt. I’m hoping to finish it in the next couple of weeks so stayed tuned for the finished result. I’m hoping it will look spectacular. We’ll see!

I hope that these instructions are clear. If there's anything that I've left out, or anything that I didn't explain thoroughly enough, please feel free to ask me about it in the comments. 

Until next time - Happy Sewing!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mistakes Can Be Good - Sometimes!

One evening last week I came home from work with the intention of doing some baking. I had taken out, what I'd thought was partridge berries to make some muffins before I'd left home in the morning. In the summer we spend a lot of time picking berries and other fruit to do us throughout the winter. I usually package them up in small vacuum sealed bags so that they stay fresh longer. And, there's just enough in a bag to make a batch of muffins or whatever else I decide to make.

Anyway, I came home, got out the ingredients to make some partridge berry muffins, but for some reason the bag of berries didn't look right. They were awfully small and looked redder than partridge berries. On closer inspection I realized that what I'd taken out was pomegranate arils. 

Now, I've never used pomegranate to make muffins and I wasn't quite sure you could make muffins with pomegranate. But, I had them out and thawed and I wanted muffins. So, I sat down, wrote out a list of ingredients that usually went into muffins. Didn't know if it would taste good or not, but there was only one way to find out. So, I went to work and started mixing ingredients together. And boy, am I ever glad I wrote them down because these are some of the best muffins I've ever tasted. Much better than partridge berry, although, I love those too. I've decided that this recipe is too good to keep to myself. So, here it is.
Pomegranate -Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups flour
½  cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup oil
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pomegranate arils
1 cup chocolate chips
1 egg (beaten)
½ cup butter

Cream butter and sugar. (I used real butter, not margarine) Beat egg with a fork until yolk and egg are combined. Add vanilla, oil and beaten egg to butter and sugar and beat again for a few minutes until well combined.  Mix baking powder, baking soda and flour together in a bowl and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour.

Stir in pomegranate arils and chocolate chips.
Spoon into muffin pan, filling cups a little more than 3/4 full.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
And there you are. I hope if you decide to make them that you enjoy them as much as we do. Sometimes mistakes can be a good thing. Not always, but this time, it was.

Until next time, happy baking and happy sewing!

Please take a minute to let me know what you think of this recipe should you decide to try it. I would love to know if you liked them.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Not a great week! But I survived!

It's been that kind of a week! You know - the kind when you'd like to go back and start Monday all over again, except the next time it would turn out much better.

First of all, last weekend I discovered that I didn't have the fabric to finish the quilt I was working on and was going to have to go buy more.So, I had to put that aside and work on something else until I could get to the fabric store to get some. Bummer!
Then, I got the news on Monday that I'm back at my day job full time again. Now, don't get me wrong - I don't mind my day job, but it takes time away from my sewing. And that's where my passion lies. Unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills. At least, not yet, but I can hope. So, enjoyment takes second place to responsibility. 

Tuesday, I woke up to a blanket of snow. Too much snow, considering it was May 6th and flowers should be blooming. It's nothing new for Newfoundlanders, but it's still discouraging to get up in the morning and see 4 inches of snow on the top rail of your patio. 
Wednesday, I just don't care to repeat. Ever!!! It was a day that started off bad and went downhill from there. Nothing at work went right. Came home that evening and started sewing and took back more stitches than I sewed in. At least that's what it felt like even though I know that's an impossibility. I did manage after too many attempts to count to get this artist brush roll finished so the evening wasn't a total waste.
Thursday on my lunch break at work I started to draw out the pattern for a new quilt. I think it might be very pretty. I love designing so my mind is constantly whirling with ideas and my hand is constantly going with a pen. Sometimes it keeps me awake at night. (much to my husband's dismay. Imagine having someone constantly flicking the light on to write something down, then turning it off and five minutes later having them turn it on again to do the same thing) He doesn't ever complain though, bless him! This pattern is in the beginning stages now and I will post a picture later when it looks more like a quilt.

But today's Friday and it's a good day! Well, for the most part anyway. There was a glitch in what would have been an otherwise perfect day. It's my day off (this is my weekend to work). I started the day with a sale in my Etsy shop and I got fabric to finish my quilt. 
 I actually just got back from the fabric store and I can't wait to get started. So, it's off to the sewing room.

I've taken pictures of the process and will be posting a tutorial on this later for those who are interested. Stay tuned.

Until then, happy sewing!

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Diamonds are a girl's best friend!

I used to make a lot of quilts years ago. It was my thing and I loved it. There is nothing, in my opinion that looks nicer than a handmade quilt. And you’ll never guess how many quilts I have in my closet today... None! Not one single quilt. Well, if you made so many quilts, where did they go, you’re probably asking. Well, some I gave away, some I sold, but the majority of them, my darling daughter claimed. She loved my quilts. Said they kept her nice and warm. Now my daughter is the type of person that in winter there are so many blankets on her bed that once you get in and pull the covers up, don’t try to move because you can’t. It’s like being entombed alive! 

Making a quilt can be a very satisfying experience. A lot of work goes into a quilt. The cutting, the piecing, the sewing, and so on. You get to the part where it’s finally time to put the binding on and you think, ‘Yay! I’m almost finished.’ 

Not quite.

There are a lot of beautiful patterns you can add that will give your quilt that extra oomph! Make it stand out so that when anyone who doesn’t sew looks at it they will oooh and aaah and shake their heads in amazement. Lavish you with such praise that you will feel the glow hours after they’ve left.

One of the easiest and most basic patterns you can give to your quilt is the Diamond Pattern. I’ve made a quilt block 13" X 13" which is what I will be using. Please excuse the photography, because it really isn't the best.

Start by drawing lines the same width apart on your block. I've drawn mine at 1" intervals but you can use whatever measurement you want. Play around with it to see which size you would prefer.
Next, turn your block 90 degrees and measuring from the outside of your block mark ticks at 1" intervals. I'm hoping you can see them on this photo. Stitch across the second line you've marked out on your block.
For those who like a visual I've marked the diamond out with fabric marker which will disappear within a day or two. I begin at the upper mark and travel to the edge. When you get to the edge, stop your machine leaving your needle in the downward position and turn your fabric. Do that at each turning point. I travel to the start of the next diamond and turn to the lower side, travelling across the quilt that way, then turn to finish the top. See photo below.

The next photo shows the complete line done across with both sides of the diamond. I'm thinking I should have used a different color of thread so that it would be more visible but hopefully, you can see what the results are like.
This pattern can make a very ordinary quilt look spectacular. And it doesn't require a lot of practice. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If there is anything that I didn't make completely clear please feel free to leave a question in the comments section and I'll be happy to clarify.

Until next time, happy sewing!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Flashback - Why I love sewing

I had a lovely email from a very nice lady earlier this week who told me she'd read my first blog and how much she had enjoyed it. It made my day. I also had an idea for my blog this week but something she said changed my mind about what I was going to post. I guess that will come at a later date. So, I'd like to say a big thank you to Agnes for giving me the idea for this post.

Below is a picture of my mom when she was a young girl. She is the person who instilled in me my love of sewing and everything related to it.  This is a tribute to my mom.

She didn't have an easy life but she made the best of it. My dad was away working most of the time when my sisters and brother were really small kids. I think I was probably a baby when he finally got a job at home and was there to help her. But back then, men didn't help with housework or with kids so she still handled that part on her own.

My three sisters were much older than me and by the time I hit my early teens they had moved away from home, either because of work, or they had gotten married. That left just me and mom. With just the two of us, we grew close and spent all of our time together. She taught me how to cook and bake (knowing how to do those things were important for when you got married) She also taught me how to knit. She was a passionate knitter and knit for a Newfoundland company called Nonia for over 50 years. This is a note she received from the company on her 50th year of knitting for them. They also sent her a gold watch which I think she wore every day afterwards. She took great pride in her work. She kept the other little piece of paper with feedback from the company tucked safely away among other things that were near and dear to her.

Most importantly she instilled in me a love of sewing that will be with me forever. I don't think there was anything Mom couldn't make with a sewing machine. She made pillowcases and curtains. Quilts and tablecloths. And she made our clothes. Just take a look at the beautiful dress and pantsuit she made for me when I was younger. Back then, this was the latest fashion. 

And it wasn't with the kind of machine we have today with all the bells and whistles.

This is one of my mom's sewing machines and I am so proud to be able to say that I now own it. And, even prouder to say that I can actually use it and have spent many hours sewing on this machine.

The one thing she didn't pass down to me was her green thumb. She was an avid gardener and it seemed like everything she touched grew. Not that she didn't try to teach me, but I just wouldn't be able to get anything to grow if my life depended on it. Just take a look at her garden! Isn't it beautiful!

Today, my mom is in a Long Term Care Facility with Advanced Altzheimers. She doesn't know me when I go to visit. Her words are mumbled and her food is pureed She spends all day in bed because she can no longer sit up on her own, and she weighs less than 80 pounds. It breaks my heart to visit her. The loving, caring, wonderful mom that I knew no longer exists. So, I try to remember the days when she was younger and we were close and spent all that time together. And I can remember her sitting at the sewing machine, her foot pumping the pedal, a smile on her face and humming, 'I come to the garden alone.' It does my heart good. And I know it's probably cruel because she doesn't know she exists anymore but I still don't want to lose her. So I go to visit her, and I talk to her and tell her that I love her and hope that in the small recess of what is left of her memory some part of her knows that I am her daughter. Because, no matter what ... she is still my mom!

If you have any thoughts or comments about this post, please leave them below. I would love to read them.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My First Blog Post

Bear with me. This is new for me so I’m learning a new process.

When I was a little girl my mom used to make everything. Our clothes, curtains, pillowcases, table runners, quilts..., you name it, my mom made it. I remember standing at the table watching as she turned the wheel on the sewing machine. It was that kind of machine. The kind where there was a big wheel on the side that you had to turn with your hand to get the foot pedal to start. I found it fascinating how she could work that wheel and foot pedal at the same time and never miss a stitch. That was the beginning of my love of sewing.

I am a wife, a mom and a grandmother. My husband and I will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this year and I can honestly say he is my rock! I have a beautiful daughter and 2 handsome grandsons, age 4 and 8 and a gorgeous little 1 year old granddaughter.

I’m a fabric addict. I live, breathe and love fabric. And anything connected with it. I go into a fabric store and I never come out without buying something. Does anyone else have the same problem or is it just me?

So, I’m thinking you’ve probably figured out by now that this blog will be mostly about sewing. I will throw in other things from time to time. A few tutorials along the way. A few giveaways when the opportunity presents itself. And I will be here to answer any questions you may have if I know the answer. And, if I don’t, I will certainly try my best to find the answer for you.

Feel free to leave a comment. I would love to know what you think of my very first post. And, I hope you are looking forward to my next one. See you in a week!

Happy Sewing!!!

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