Friday, December 31, 2010

2011, here we come!

Wouldn't it be fun to start the new year with some new fabric???

The wonderful Peg and Becca of Sew Fresh Fabrics have kindly agreed to give one of you lucky readers an amazingly large half-yard bundle of Art Gallery fabrics, including cuts from the Modern Affair, Oval Elements and Dreaming in French collections.  Can you believe it?  Eight half-yards of fabric!!

Sew Fresh Fabrics is a fairly new fabric shop, but their selection is stellar and the prices are great, too.  In addition to a great selection of fashionable prints, they've also got a boatload of Kona solids and some Essex linen, which is a lot of fun to work with.  And to celebrate the end of the year, they're running a shipping special through the end of the day today, December 31, 2010 - free shipping for orders over $35.

Here's how to enter:

1. Leave me a comment.  Tell me what you would do with these gorgeous fabrics! (one entry)
2. Like Sew Fresh Fabrics on Facebook and tell me about it. (one entry)
3. If you're a follower, leave me a comment and tell me so!  (one entry)

Make sure that your Blogger profile includes your e-mail address so I can notify you if you win!

This giveaway will be open throughout the holiday weekend until Sunday January 2, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  The winner will be selected by a random integer generator and announced on Monday.  Good luck and Happy New Year!  :)

P.S. - What do you think of my new header image?  Lee at Freshly Pieced is so super talented!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

WiP Wednesday #7

Well, there's not a whole heck of a lot of progress going on over here.  I'm still getting used to Betsy 2.0, so it's kind of slow going over here.

But I'm not without grand plans!  It was definitely a quilty kind of Christmas at my house, my husband not only got me an awesome sewing machine, but also some gorgeous new fabric to play with...if only I could stop drooling over all of it!

My mother also gave me a few books for inspiration, so I'm feeling all kinds of prepared for a quilty new I just need some follow-through.

Here's what I've got cooking at the moment...

In progress:
Embroidered robot pillow - Well, the embroidery is done.  I need to iron this one, and sash it with something cute to turn it into a little throw pillow for the munchkin's room.

New non-Christmas pillows for living room - This was the first project I've started on Betsy 2.0.  So far, I'm in the midst of an HST pillow, much like the one I made for Steph for PTS 4.  I still have two more pillow fronts to make for my living room, and I'm thinking about using some gorgeous AMH scraps I have in the style of a coin quilt for one and maybe some straight-up scrappy patchwork for the other one.

Almost in progress:
DS Single Girl king size quilt - I'm auditioning fabrics as we speak.  I've just ordered a few more reds, since I seem to be lacking in that department, so I'm not quite done gathering here.

Twin quilts for new cousins Kayla and Tristan - We've got new cousins, and naturally, they need quilts.  Their nursery is zoo themed, so I dug out some great fabrics for these two.  I'm just waiting on my perfectly matched solids (thank you, Santa, for my Kona color card!) to get started cutting on this one.

Sewing Ninja embroidered pillow for my sewing room - I really enjoyed embroidering the robot whilst my machine was in the shop, so I thought I'd try another embroidery project.  This is going to be a fun one, I can tell.  I can't get over how enjoyable a little embroidery is, especially for someone who really does not like hand stitching.  I think it reminds me of when I was younger, when I used to cross-stitch with my mother.
Bee blocks - I'm awaiting two packages of fabric at the moment, to be turned into bee blocks for two of the bees I'm participating in.  Can't wait to get started!

Mug rug for my mother
That Girl..That Quilt along - Blissful Thirties quilt

WiP #7 Recap:
Last week's total: 3
New projects: 4
Finished projects: 2
Total projects: 5
Monday, December 27, 2010

Fresh Greenery Urban Lattice quilt - done!

Phew.  It's been a whirlwind around my house the last several days, between having company and Christmas and all of that fun stuff.  Don't get me wrong, it was a good whirlwind, but phew!  A part of me is glad that it's time to get back to normal.  Christmas at my house was a lot of fun, for everyone in the family.  My munchkin is in love with a Saxoflute my mother got for him, my mother adores the purse I made for her, and I am in love with my new baby, Betsy 2.0...and my husband?  Well, it's a longer story... Urban Lattice quilt, for those of you who weren't in on it, was actually for my husband, not a gift my brother!

I was feverishly working to finish it before he returned home from a marathon business trip, which fortunately was extended a week at the last minute, granting me a reprieve from an all-nighter.   This quilt was a challenge in a lot of ways and I learned a lot.

I learned that paper is not something to be afraid of, and to really be precise when using paper - that's what it's there for! I learned that outline or echo quilting is - make that was - terribly frustrating on my sewing machine.  I still can't believe my husband got me a beautiful Husqvarna Sapphire for Christmas.  Outline quilting should be a lot easier on this machine, since the throat size is double what I used to have.  I can't wait to find out!

I also remembered how much fun it is to surprise someone.  I can remember as a kid, helping my mother surprise my dad with gifts at the holidays.  One year, in particular, she wrapped up and put under the tree nothing but black socks, because that's all he asked for.  When he was done, we all had a laugh about it, and brought out another gift, which I seem to recall was a popcorn popper, which he absolutely loved.  I thought about doing the same this year, since all my husband asked for was black socks and shave soap, but decided against it.  I did make him open this last, though.

I also worked on my hand sewing, and I hand sewed the binding onto the back of the quilt.  It was maddening at times, but I finally perfected a knotless start, which was a big bonus.  I'm getting better at this, but it really requires good television and/or good music.  Thank goodness my public library carries Project Runway!

And for the record, my husband said a few times, while reading my blog from afar, how much he liked this quilt, so it was a tough secret to keep, but I'm glad I did.  His face, when he opened the box, was just priceless.  This was definitely the best Christmas gift I gave this year, and it's already been quite well loved.  I think the dog thinks I made it for him...

Monday, December 20, 2010

My 2011 Lofty Quilty List

First off - thank you all so much for the awesome birthday wishes yesterday!  I had a great day, and even started my first embroidery project, which is going pretty well for my first time.  Stay tuned for a sneak peek on Wednesday.

And now, another list for the girl who loves lists.

Have I ever told you about how my father-in-law actually mentioned my love for lists and Excel in his wedding toast?  I've always enjoyed making lists, and I find it hysterical that my munchkin is already showing his affinity for lists too.  He loves to say "check" in the grocery store when we're shopping our way through our list, and has once or twice picked up one of his handy dandy notebooks and pretended to make a list of his own.  Super cute.

Anyway, I was thinking that 2010 is quickly evaporating.  Where did the year go?  We've got a little over a week left, and for me, that's the time when I usually start coming up with grand plans for the next year.  Have you noticed that the New Year will begin on 1-1-11?  Pretty cool, if you ask me.

So what do I have planned for 2011?  Definitely more quilting.  I did a lot of quilting this year, and I've discovered that quilting is something I really love.  It's kind of funny to think that I didn't find a hobby that I was super passionate about until just last year, but that's the case.  Quilting and sewing makes me a more sane, more happy person.  So, definitely more of that.  Time for a list and naturally some inspirational mosaics...

1. Bee quilts - three of them! I'm the mama for one, and a participant in two more, so I'm looking forward to lots of bee fun this year.

2. Matching twin baby quilts for my brand new niece and nephew

3. A Single Girl queen size quilt for my bed (I'm thinking red and aqua here, how awesome would that be???)

4. Oh Fransson's Kitchen Window quilt from her new book

5. Spiderweb quilt, possibly using scraps and/or selvages from this last year of quilting

6. Cathedral Window pillow for my living room

7. A zig zag quilt

8. Postage stamp quilt

9. Yellow Dresden plate or wonky star pillow for my mother's birthday

10. Margaret's Hope Chest charity quilt - I'm making a pink quilt and I'm thinking one of three concepts - colorbrick, crosses, or square in square.

I decided to stop at 10 projects, at least for now, otherwise I'd wind up with a ridiculous list of 50 things and expectations that I'd never be able to meet.  I think I'm most excited about either my MHC quilt and working in the bees.

And now, it's linky time!  What have you got planned for next year?  A new quilt (or 18 of them)?  Finishing off a quilt top?  Organizing your sewing room?  I want to hear all about it!  :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blissful Thirties and Birthday Cake

Well, here I am, 30 years old today.  I'm hoping to have a nice, uneventful kind of day wrapped up with a yummy dinner I don't have to cook and a chocolate cake, which I will bake for myself thanks to my perfectionist tendencies.

I'm not sure what kinds of gifts are awaiting me today.  Wait, I take that back...I do know of one wonderful gift I get to open...

This gorgeous quilt!

Yay!  My That Girl...quilt along quilt is officially done.  I even wrapped it up so I can open it tonight with any other gifts I might wind up with.

And as a homage to the fabrics I used and as a hopeful attempt to label the next decade of my life, I've named this quilt Blissful Thirties.

I love how this quilt came together, I just wish I'd made it a little bit bigger.  This is definitely a one-person snuggler, but that's okay with me.

And thank you, Jennifer, for hosting this awesome quilt along.  I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I will definitely use this pattern again!

Growing up, with a birthday six days before Christmas, my mother was adamant about separating my birthday from Christmas.  The year of my first birthday, my father was the one who picked up my birthday cake from the bakery, and when he got home and showed it to my mother, she nearly skinned him.  Oh the horror - it had snowmen on it!  And was decorated with red and green frosting!  Over the years, my birthday cakes had lots of things on them - including He-Man one year - but never again was there a Christmas themed cake.

My birthday cake today will not be decorated with red and green frosting, nor will there be any 80's cartoons.  characters.  It will be chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, with luscious chocolate fudge frosting and super yummy layers of chocolate cake.  In fact, I ought to share the recipe with you...

This is my most favorite chocolate cake, slightly adapted from the Barefoot Contessa.  It's really quite easy to make, and ridiculously delicious.  Now, I'm off to get started on it!

Yes, I made a chocolate cake for Thanksgiving.  I'm sorry, pumpkin, but chocolate is my one true dessert love.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken well
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

3. Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: 

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

1. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.
Saturday, December 18, 2010

Drumroll please...

Thank you to everyone who entered, it's so awesome to have new blogs to read and new followers.  And now, for the news you've all been waiting for...

The winner of the Heather Bailey Daily Spice apron pattern is....Amanda, who said...
If I win the pattern, I'll definitely be making an apron for me. :-)  But more solid plans include a purse & quilt for myself, a quilt for my hubs, and a quilt for my eldest daughter.

Congratulations, Amanda, I'll be sending you an email momentarily to ask for your mailing address so I can get this in the mail to you ASAP.

And tomorrow is my official 30th birthday, so I'll be unveiling my birthday quilt.  Make sure to come back and check it out, I'm so happy with how it turned out!
Friday, December 17, 2010

Such a happy mailbox!

Looking for my Giveaway Day post?  Here it is!

Time for a mini-break here from hand stitching the binding for my That Girl quilt along quilt.  My hands need a rest!  And typing comes so much easier than hand sewing.

Yippee, my mailbox has been a really happy place lately - I received an awesome package of goodies from my Scrappy Mug Rug from my partner and another awesome package from my Pillow Talk {Swap} partner, too.   I'm one lucky girl!

My scrappy mug rug partner, Amy, sent me an awesome, festive package.  She sent me not one, but two mug rugs!  I've already used up the cocoa - we've had quite the string of strong cold spells (especially for Florida) lately, and it came in handy one night when I just couldn't get warm.

I had asked for red and aqua, and she totally delivered there.  She also wanted to make a holiday one for me, which turned out really pretty.  

This adorable Christmas ornament was a great surprise from my scrappy mug rug partner, Amy.  Isn't he adorable?  At first, the munchkin argued with me about the missing pieces from the gingerbread boy, but he ultimately was super excited about it, and hung it on our tree himself.

And I received an amazing package all the way from Australia, from my Pillow Talk {Swap} partner, Nicole, this week, too!

When I spotted this pillow in the Flickr group, I fully hoped that it was going to come live at my house, and I'm so super excited that it turned out to be mine!  It's so beautiful, and even has a zipper closure in back.  I'm sitting with it right now as I'm typing, in fact.  It is just so gorgeous, I'm so glad it's mine.  I'm a lucky girl, indeed :)

Back to binding now!  I feel like such a binding slave, and it feels an awful lot like I'll never finish.  My birthday is in just a few days, and I really want to make sure my gift is ready!
Thursday, December 16, 2010

I {heart} pillows

Are you looking for my giveaway day post?  It's right over here...

It's official.  After the Pillow Talk {Swap}, I now love making pillows.  I haven't received my pillow in the swap yet, though I have a few guesses as to which might be for me, so I was itching to have a new pillow on my couch this weekend.  Somehow, I found myself making a trio of holiday pillows.  I just couldn't stop!  I suspect I'll be making them all the time now.  I am already planning to make one for my mother's birthday in February - a dresden plate in yellows, because she loves sun faces, and I think this will remind her of a sun face.  So rather than hand stitching the binding to my Urban Lattice quilt along and That Girl quilt along quilts, so I did pillows instead - perfect for way faster gratification!

Speaking of dresdens, I made my first one in this trio of holiday pillows.  It's miles from perfect, but I learned a lot while doing this.  I used a couple of different tutorials, but the one that was most helpful was Elizabeth Hartman's from Sew Mama Sew.  I wish I'd done a solid for the center, but all in all, I really enjoyed making a dresden.  It's a great way to use up scraps or charm packs!  It sounds like we might be doing one next month in my bee, with Amy Butler's new collection, to boot.  I can't wait!

And I also made a scrappy Christmas tree pillow, thanks to Kati's super awesome tute.  I adore this pillow.  I'm so glad I got over my fear of paper piecing, because I am really loving the things I'm assembling that way. Thank you, Kati, for sharing the details on your pillow, it's been one of my favorites from the Pillow Talk {Swap}!

For my final pillow, I went super duper simple.  I absolutely adore this Alexander Henry print that I found at my LQS.   It's quite possibly the best Christmas fabric I've seen.  It's from a small collection called Merry Moderns, and I just love the old time-y feel it has.  Feels like a vintage newspaper ad.  This is quite possibly my favorite holiday pillow of all, even though the others required far more work and such, I just love this fabric so very much.  Fortunately, I've got plenty more to use next year.  I'm strongly considering busting out my Christmas stash in July and doing some holiday sewing then.  Maybe I'll even do a linky party...hmm....

And speaking of linkies, don't forget...I'm going to be hosting a linky next Monday, December 20th.  I'm going to be sharing my ideas for sewing and quilting next year, and I'd love to see you guys do the same and join in the fun!   Share concepts, inspiration, stacks of fabric, lists, whatever you like.  I adore lists, they make me happy, so I can't wait to see what you all are planning for next year.  :)
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WiP Wednesday #6

Looking for my giveaway day post?  It's right over here!

This has been a crazy busy sewing week.  I've been trying to finish up all of my holiday sewing so I could get my machine to my dealer for a well-deserved and much needed cleaning.  After the 13 quilts I made this year and various other projects, it is so thoroughly necessary.  I think I'm about done, just one more binding to machine on one side, and then Betsy is off to get herself a nice cleaning.

Urban Lattice quilt along - It's off in the mail!  It will get to its final destination hopefully by the end of the week, which is a huge relief.  I can't wait to hear from my brother on Christmas and hopefully get some wonderful pictures of the quilt in use.
A trio of holiday pillows - I couldn't stop at just one.  :)  Stay tuned for the full reveal tomorrow!
Scrappy monster pillow for the munchkin (formerly a robot pillow - it didn't work out!) - Done and hidden away in a closet the munchkin can't get to.  He is either going to love this or hate this, I'm not sure yet...
Pillowcase for the munchkin - I wound up making two of these, and they are all done.  I was on a full-on pillow kick this weekend, it felt like Santa's Pillow Warehouse at my house!

Mug rug for my mother - Done!  I don't love how it turned out, though, so I'm working on another one...

Making progress:
That Girl... quilt along - I am painfully slow at hand-stitching binding on, but I'm determined to get better at it, so I'm still plugging away at it, ever so slowly.

New projects:
Mug rug for my mother take two - See above!  I'm not sure I love what I did for the first one, so I'm working on another one...

Something embroidered -  AnneMarie has convinced me to give embroidery a try, so when I take my machine in for a cleaning later this week (and have to live without it until just after Christmas, eek!), I am going to try some embroidery.  Stay tuned to hear about the epic fail that surely will result...

Weekly Wrap-Up
Last week's total: 6
Finished projects: 5
New projects: 2
This week's total: 3

Don't forget to check out the linky at Freshly Pieced every Wednesday for more works in progress!

And mark your calendar...I'm going to be hosting a linky next Monday, December 20th.  The end of the year is fast approaching, so I'm going to post some of my ideas for sewing and quilting next year, and I'd love to see you guys do the same and join in the fun!   Share concepts, inspiration, stacks of fabric, lists, whatever you like.  I adore lists, they make me happy, and I can't wait to see what you all are planning for next year.  :)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A few things that will make the munchkin very happy

Looking for my Giveaway Day post?  Check here!

And ta-da, the Super Why cape for my son is complete!  Hopefully, PBS won't come after me for daring to copy their show's logo into fabric.  I think it's just darling, I really love how this came together.

I used the same pattern I used for the Superman cape earlier this year from The Long Thread.  This time I followed the pattern...except for the neckline.  I decided to make a little bias tape and use that for the neck instead of velcro, so that the cape will not only last for him a little longer, but it will also allow Mommy and Daddy to join in the fun when the munchkin (inevitably) demands that we wear the cape.

It's hard putting this one in a box right now, I'd love to just hand it right over to him because I know how much he'll enjoy it.  Better wrap it now before I cave in!

Another gift I better hurry up and wrap is the Kermit the Frog shirt I made.  When I started sewing and spending more time at my desk, my munchkin happened to notice that I had a Kermit the Frog finger puppet.  He would play with it on occasion, and one day at the library, he spotted The Muppet Movie.  The rest?  Kind of history.  He's seen all of the Muppet movies, and loves them.  He plays regularly with my Kermit the Frog finger puppet.  All he needed was a shirt, but they are shockingly hard to come by in boys' toddler sizes (darn you Old Navy for making one for girls this year) so I decided to make him one for Christmas.

I found an awesome Muppet quilting book at the library, and that's where I found the applique pattern.  If you're into Muppets and want to make a Muppet quilt, this book is amazing.  It's called Quilting with the Muppets, and though it's apparently out of print, you can still find it on Amazon.

And one last piece of adorable applique - the munchkin asked for a new zoo shirt the other day, so I whipped him up a baby and mommy elephant shirt.  I am apparently on one heck of an applique roll!

I also whipped up a few holiday shirts for my munchkin, a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and a simple Christmas tree.  I must say, the holidays this year have been a lot of fun so far with the munchkin.  He's totally into the holidays this year, even more than last year.  He's learning Christmas carols and loves listening to the all-holiday music radio station, and his favorite so far is "Jingle Bell Rock."  He also really loves "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and of course "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  I can tell this is going to be a very memorable holiday season.

And...I'm going to be hosting a linky next Monday, December 20th.  I'm going to be sharing my ideas for sewing and quilting next year, and I'd love to see you guys do the same and join in the fun!   Share concepts, inspiration, stacks of fabric, lists, whatever you like.  I adore lists, they make me happy, so I can't wait to see what you all are planning for next year.  :)

Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a mood teen boy and a chatty six-year-old girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
The Epic Sampler BOM Club kicks off Oct 1st
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