Wednesday, April 30, 2014

There's nothing quite like handmade gifts

Quilty people are really the best people - not only do they spoil you rotten, but they truly appreciate it when you make things for them! I brought a few handmade gifts this past weekend with me to The Stash Bash that I wanted to share today, now that the cat's out of the bag :)

A little something handmade for Chris

Chris of Frecklemama is the mama of The Stash Bash. She puts it together each year, and puts in loads of work to make it the amazing, inspiring, awesome event that it is. I'm also lucky to call her my friend. She's so hilarious - if you don't follow her on Instagram @frecklemama then you are absolutely missing out on her crazy pets, fantastic one liners, and her epic morning hair. I wanted to say thank you to her in a way she could see every day, so I decided to make her something she could put in her sewing room. I chose to make the fantastic embroidery pattern on the cover of the Studio Stitches pattern from Empty Bobbin. It was the perfect way for me to try out some stitching with Aurifloss.

Stitching away

I'm not a super experienced embroider-er, but I've found it to be a lot of fun. And the Aurifloss was a dream to work with. Why on Earth doesn't every single kind of embroidery floss come on a wooden spool?? Oh my, that made embroidering even more enjoyable. No thread snarls with this adorable little spool, and did I mention how cute the spools are?? Chris's favorite colors are these kinds of soft pastels, so I had the perfect palette to work from, the Vintage Linens Aurifloss collection. 

I used some painter's tape and card stock to mount it in this vintage-y frame I found at Michael's. It may be the worst mounting job in the history of embroidery, but it works and it fit into the frame, so I think it looks pretty good. I was really excited to give it to Chris when I arrived. Don't you love giving a gift that's just beyond appreciated? That's what it was like to give this to Chris. Doesn't she look tickled?

Me and Chris at the Stash Bash

The other handmade gift I made went to Jacey of Jaceycraft. Jacey and I have met a couple of times in the past, but for The Stash Bash I was her Sew Secret Agent, the secret person giving her some fun secret gifts throughout the weekend, including this pouch.

A bunch of the Sew Secret Agent goodies I gave at the Stash Bash

I used another one of the embroidery patterns in the Studio Stitches bundle to make the embroidered part of this little pouch. I just love this little Featherweight style machine! I again used my Aurifloss stash, mostly using colors from the Color Threads bundle. I also gave Jacey some other fun little items to sweeten the pot, like a fun cat t-shirt and a pack of my favorite colored pencils. I had a terrible time trying to keep my poker face as Jacey opened her goodies! But it was awesome to get to tell her that I was her secret agent, and Amy of Needled Fig helped capture that awesome moment for us. 

Surprise! Sew Secret Agent reveal at the Stash Bash

Just thinking about all this makes me want to pick up a new embroidery project right now! Hmm, I better check my stock of Aurifloss, because I think I might be hooked!
Monday, April 28, 2014

The infamous Stash Bash cookies

I spent the last four days at The Stash Bash, just outside of Atlanta, with an amazing group of women that I'm missing quite a bit this morning. Good thing there's exactly two cookies left from the giant double batch of Salty Caramel Chocolate Chip cookies I baked for them, because it's the perfect "hair of the dog" kind of hangover cure I'm needing this morning.

Salty Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies - recipe on the blog

Elizabeth's Salty Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks of softened, room temp salted butter - trust me, use salted butter here!
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract - I like the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla brand best
1/4 cup salty caramel sauce - Jen's recipe is the best
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
18 oz mini chocolate chips - 1 1/2 bags worth, roughly
Pink or white coarse sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep a baking sheet or two with a Silpat or with parchment paper.
2. Beat softened butter with the sugars until fluffy and well mixed. Mix in eggs, then caramel. Quick tip on the caramel - spritz your measuring cup with some Pam or similar to make the caramel come right out, super easy. Add in vanilla, mix thoroughly and scrape the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Slowly add your dry ingredients, a cup or so at a time, to the dough, and mix thoroughly.
4. Add chocolate chips and mix with a wooden spoon or spoonula.
5. To make big cookies, scoop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are slightly browned on the edges. Underbaking is key to making the cookies stay fresh longer! I usually bake for 10 minutes on the dot, depending on how my oven is behaving.
6. To make smaller cookies, like the ones I brought to the Stash Bash, scoop using a regular silverware spoon. Dough is pliable, so roll into a ball and place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and sprinkle with coarse sea salt before baking for 7-8 minutes. Again, underbake slightly to ensure that the cookies stay fresh longer.
7. Either size you bake, make sure to let the cookies "rest" on the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes before moving them to a rack to finish cooling.

One batch makes approximately 36 large cookies or 80 small cookies

Happy Monday everyone!
Monday, April 21, 2014

Shadow Sawtooth - a finish!

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and this week is looking like it will be nothing short of crazy, as I plan out and prep far too many projects for my yearly journey up to Atlanta for The Stash Bash. It's always better to have too many projects to pick from to work on than not enough, right? For the last week, I've been trying to recover from the fun I had at SewDown Nashville - it was such a great time, I can hardly even describe it in words. One thing I can do, though, is show you one of my recent finishes that I shared for the first time in Nashville, at my lecture, Shadow Sawtooth.

Shadow Sawtooth on a nearly cloudless day

The lecture I gave in Nashville was about applying modern aesthetics to traditional, classic quilt blocks to yield modern traditional quilts. Everything from applying interesting, alternate grid work to a classic block to adding asymmetry to a block, to unexpected uses of color. This quilt is by far and away one of my favorite class/lecture samples I've made to date, and it could be the color combinations, it could be the quilting, or it could be the way that your eye can often "lose" the grayscale sawtooth stars as you take in the center star in all its glory, but all in all, I adore this quilt.

Shadow Sawtooth - FMQ Detail

It's sewn up in Kona solids, in Kona Ash, Medium Gray, Charcoal, Curry, Cerise, and Pool. The quilting is another part of this quilt that really grabs me. I used several different shades of Aurifil, from a variegated gray (#4670) to a fuchsia (#2588), yellow (#2135), and aqua (#2835) to match the center star.

Shadow Sawtooth - in Kona Solids

It's a super simple quilt that totally goes to show you how the use of color can absolutely change a quilt - and I can't wait to find the perfect place to hang it up at home! Happy Monday everyone :)

Quilt Stats
name: Shadow Sawtooth
size: 36" square
pattern: none - just used a classic Sawtooth Star block throughout
fabrics: Kona Ash, Medium Gray, Charcoal, Curry, Cerise, and Pool
quilting: L's in 40 wt Aurifil variegated gray (#4670), L's in 50 wt Aurifil yellow (#2135), fat L's in 50 wt Aurifil fuchsia (#2588), and zig zag in 50 wt Aurifil aqua (#2835)
Thursday, April 10, 2014

The lowdown on FMQ feet

I'm guest-posting over at Sew Mama Sew today, talking about free-motion quilting feet for domestic sewing machines. Much like with piecing feet, there are lots of options for free-motion quilting feet! Open toe, closed toe, floating, spring loaded - it's a smorgasbord of options, really. I'm breaking them all down to give you the lowdown about what feet work best for free-motion quilting, and there is a super fun giveaway involved too! Hop on over to Sew Mama Sew to check it out!

Friday, April 4, 2014

A wee house

Oh, it feels it's been eons since I made a bee block! I felt all kinds of rusty when I officially started working on my first bee block for the Wee Bee, a fun international bee filled with some great, super talented sewists. Our first queen bee is Cat of Cat + Vee, who requested a wee little house block.

I went with a really simple house, paper pieced, of course, with a cute little fussy cut window into a sewing room, from a print I got back during a Japanese fabric swap quite some time ago. I can't believe that I not only remembered that I had a print like that in my sewing room but that I was also able to find it, because the sewing room is a bit of a disaster area at the moment.

A wee house for Cat

This was a fun little block to sew up, and I can't wait to see all the other blocks Cat gets for this little quilt. If you want to see more of what we're stitching up in this bee, we've got a Flickr group right here and most of us are on Instagram as well using hashtag #theweebee . Tell me, are you in a quilting bee right now? Bees can be such fun with the right people, I've made lots of friends through online quilting bees like this one! Have a great weekend everyone :)
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wheels in the Sky quilt in the new issue of Quilty!

Good morning! I've got another fun magazine feature to share with you this morning - the latest issue of Quilty magazine features a new paper piecing pattern from yours truly, called Wheels in the Sky.

Wheels in the Sky - pattern in Mar/Apr 2014 issue of Quilty

This quilt was a labor of love, designed around Jeni Baker's Nordika collection. I was really attracted to Nordika when I first saw it at Quilt Market last spring, but I wasn't sure how I'd use it. It was one of those collections that I felt like needed just the right pattern to show it off. I decided to challenge myself to experiment with the Flowerfall in Jade print as a background fabric. I loved the organic lines in the print, but I had a feeling that with paper piecing that it might get a little too busy, so I alternated a simple Pure Elements Snow white with the Flowerfall print, and I love the effect that it brings to the finished quilt.

Wheels in the Sky - alt view

I kept the quilting fairly simple, doing a large orange peel repeating design throughout, really letting the piecing be the star of the finished quilt. I used my trusty orange cone of white (#2024) 50 wt Aurifil, my old standby that works for everything when I'm too lazy to change out my spool :)

Wheels in the Sky - FMQ Detail

Quilt Stats
name: Wheels in the Sky
size: 48" square
fabrics: Nordika by Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics and coordinating Art Gallery Pure Elements solids
pattern: Wheels in the Sky by yours truly in the March/April 2014 edition of Quilty
quilting: Orange peels in white 50 wt Aurifil thread

Wheels in the Sky - Mar/Apr issue of Quilty
photo from Quilty magazine, March/April 2014 issue

If you love this quilt exactly the way I made it, you can pick up a kit with all the fabrics you'll need for the quilt top at Fons & Porter. Also over at Fons & Porter, you can check out a nifty video they made about how to foundation paper piece this block!

You can still find Nordika in stock at:
Intrepid Thread
Stash Fabrics
Hawthorne Threads

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?
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