Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tutorial: This Way That Way Quilt {a half rectangle triangle pattern}

Good afternoon from Austin, Texas! It's only fitting that here at QuiltCon writing this tutorial, isn't it? 

Last week, I made this quilt top from an Oakshott 10" square pack of colors 31-57 and 2 1/2 yards of background fabric, color number 32 Amalfi ) which has a grey warp and a white weft.) I LOVE shot cottons, they have such a nice weight and feel to them, almost like linen but with crisp softness that doesn't wrinkle quite as much. They also have a really lovely vibrant, subtle color shift in them. This is because they're woven one direction (warp) in one color and the other direction (weft) in a second color. The result is a fabric that blends beautifully with other fabrics in a way that an ordinary solid fabric wouldn't. 

As you can see in the above photo, I was given plenty to work with. I wanted to create a quilt that was not only a challenge for me, but also something that would showcase just how incredibly colorful and gorgeous this fabric is.

I didn't really have a plan, I almost never do when it comes to my quilts. Instead, I laid the fabrics out on my design wall and let them speak to me. 

I loved how each color complimented the others, so I knew I needed to keep the quilt simple. I also wanted to use every last bit of fabric that I was given. So, I decided to try something new, and I set about figuring out how to make a half rectangle triangle (HRT). I've done plenty of half square triangles, but this was new territory. I'm actually kind of shocked that I got it right on the first try! 

Are you ready to try something new? Ok then, let's jump in head-first!

What you will need:
27 precut 10" squares
2 1/2 yards 54" background fabric
Fabric pen
Acrylic Grid ruler
Rotary cutter/mat
Iron/ironing board
Sewing machine etc

Start by pressing each 10" square, then cutting them in half to create 54 5" x 10" rectangles.

From the pressed background fabric, cut 5" strips, then subcut into 10" pieces. 

On the wrong side of the background fabric, align your grid ruler with the upper left corner to the bottom right corner and draw a line.

With right sides together, match the corners of the background rectangle with the opposite corners of the solid. (Technically, it's the same corners, but because they're laid out right sides together, it'll look like the opposite corners.)

Sew 1/4" away from the line on both sides.

Using a rotary cutter, cut on the drawn line to separate.

Press the HRT's open, with the seam facing the solid, or darker color.

Make sure that the diagonal line is always going from upper left to bottom right, until you get to the halfway mark. Switch corners for the second half so the HRT's face the other direction-hence the name "This Way That Way". 

I'm afraid I don't have any graphic design skills, so you'll have to use the following photo as a layout guide for your quilt top.

Keep in mind that there should be four HRT's of each color, but you can't see all of them on the top row because of the way it's draped against the wall.

I finished the quilt by stitching one long 5" strip on either side. You will probably have to piece the strips together. I used 5" x WOF (width of fold) and a 15" piece for each side, then trimmed after stitching.

I plan to finish this quilt when I get back home from QuiltCon. I think I'm going to do a whole lot of matchstick quilting to finish it off, won't that look amazing? 

I'll post a finished quilt photo once it's completed, so be on the look out for that! 

Happy quilting!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Recipe: Black Bean Soup

I have a yummy, new recipe for you! I made this last night and surprised myself at how good it was! Normally you think bland and kinda uneventful when you think about bean soup, right? But this? This was sorta zingy and zesty and comforting. It was so good, that my husband had seconds. SECONDS! He never does that with soup! In fact, he doesn't even finish the first serving because he doesn't like soup. (He says it isn't a meal, whatever!) I think you're really going to like it. 

Happy cooking!

Heart Black Bean Soup
(Makes 4 two cup servings)

1 lb bag of black beans, sorted, soaked and rinsed (see package for directions)
4 cups chicken broth (use veggie broth for a vegetarian version)
1 cup water
8 slices of bacon (optional)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil (if not using bacon)
2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
Salt and pepper 

Sour cream
Diced avocado
Lime wedges
Crumbled bacon (optional for vegetarian)
Chopped cilantro

If you are using the bacon, cook it until crisp. Set on a paper towel to drain and cool, then chop. Do not discard the grease!

Place soaked beans in a stock pot, add chicken (or veggie) stock and water; cover with a lid and allow to simmer over low heat for about one hour, stirring occasionally.

Heat oil/bacon grease in a frying pan over medi high heat, add onions, poblano peppers and garlic; season with salt and pepper and sauté until soft and translucent, about 7-8 minutes. 

Once the vegetables are soft, stir in cumin and chili powder. Add this mixture to the beans. Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking the beans, uncovered, for another hour or so. The beans will become thick, so keep a close eye on them! Add more water or stock of you want them to be more soupy/less chunky; adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve with crumbled bacon, a sprinkling of cilantro, some avocado, a dollop of sour cream and a lime wedge. 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tutorial: Burlap and Fabric Christmas Stocking

{Treelicious by Maude Asbury
for Blend Fabrics}

What a fun collection by Maude Asbury! It's classic, yet funky and modern. Perfect for my family's Christmas stockings! As you know, our belongings are locked up safe in a storage unit clear across the country. Last Christmas we were at my husband's parents house for Christmas so things like a tree, ornaments, and Christmas stockings were not a concern. Not this year! This year we're at our own place without our decorations. What else could I do but make our stockings, right?

This is a tutorial for inexpensive, yet pretty, Christmas stockings. I'll even show you how to draw your own pattern so you don't have to rely on having a printer (with ink!) in order to get started. 

Ready? Gather your supplies. For three stockings I used:

1 yard burlap
3 different 1/2 yard pieces of quilting cotton
Pinking shears (optional)
Grid ruler, pencil, paper bag, round plate, paper scissors

First, cut the bottom off the bag and remove the handles, if any:

Flip the bag over and cut down the seam line, then fold bag in half with the printed side inside the fold:

My grid ruler is 18", so that's about how long I drew my line. This line represents the heel side of the stocking from top to heel:

Measure over about 8"-9" and draw a second line, parallel to the first and the same length. 

You can see in the photo below that I drew the heel and toe outside of these two lines. For the toe, it starts about 10" down, the heel about 9". The widest part of the toe (from straight line to curved line) is 3"; the heel is about 1/2" from straight line to curve. The point where the curved line starts to the bottom of the toe is about 7". I completely "eyeballed" it and just drew this part freehand. You can use a round edged plate to make the curve if you want. 

Next, cut the stocking pattern out. To make the cuff, measure down 5 1/2" and draw a line across the top of the stocking pattern at that point; draw a line 1/2" above and below this line to indicate where you should cut for the stocking and lining. The original line becomes the fold which is also the seam of the cuff/lining. (See below, the second photo down...)

Trace the foot portion of the stocking pattern onto an empty piece of the bag. Draw the curved lines for the heel and toe; be sure to label them "bottom of toe, stocking inside line, stocking outside etc" I didn't do that and I wished I had. It was a little confusing to match it all up because my curved edges were so similar.

Cut the heel and toe patterns out, and draw the rectangle cuff pattern piece: 5 1/2"xthe width of your stocking top:
{for burlap, fold the pattern on the fold line to trace. For the lining, fold it on the stocking lining line.}

Now you're ready to trace your pattern pieces onto the burlap and quilting cotton, aka "lining".

From Burlap:
Cut 2 stockings

From Lining Cut:
2 stockings
2 heels
2 toes
2 cuffs

Lay the wrong side of the toe and heel pieces to the right side of the burlap

matching raw edges; pin in place and stitch using a 1/8" seam allowance. (These pieces purposely have raw edges and are not turned under.)

Place burlap stocking halves right sides together; stitch using a 1/2" seam allowance.

Clip curves or use pinking shears. I only clipped the foot part of the stocking:

Turn burlap stocking right side out; press.
{the two on the left were pressed; you can see why I suggest pressing at this stage, right?}

With right sides together, place one cuff piece to the top of one stocking piece. Make sure if the fabric you are using is directional, that it will be facing the correct way when folded down.
Repeat this process for both stocking/cuff pieces; press cuff seam towards top of stocking. Press edge of cuff under 1/2".

Lay the stockings right sides together, matching curves and cuff seams; stitch using 1/2" seam allowance. Clip corners it use pinking shears on the foot area.

Insert the lining into the burlap stocking

Fold cuff over raw edge of the burlap; pin in place. Using your machines free arm, carefully topstitch around the cuff using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Press the topstitched seam and you are done!

I hope my instructions were clear. I made these about 2 weeks ago so I'm working from memory. If you have any questions, please submit them via the "contact me" page and I will answer them as soon as possible.

Happy sewing!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Two For One: Book Review + a Tutorial!

I'm hard at work, these days, catching up on my to-do list. One of the things at the top of my list has been my Blend Fabrics tutorials and Mollie Makes book reviews. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to combine the two.

Blend sent a bundle of Good Company by Cori Dantini. Isn't it cute?
I love this one, it's so full of color and original artwork! 

As I was flipping through the pages of Mollie Makes Crochet
 I instantly zeroed in on the Baby Blankets on page 24.
I don't crochet, I never could quite get the hang of it. But, my sister does (and she is mind-blowingly talented at it!) and she doesn't sew but she's learning. I figured I could do the same with her craft of choice. So, I made a blanket (easy peasy).

**You will need seven different fabrics, at least 5" wide by the width of the fold and one yard of flannel for the back. For the crocheted bit, grab a skein of not-too-thick yarn, a tapestry needle and a crochet hook. (Check the label on the yarn for size recommendation.)**

First, I cut 5"x31" strips of five fabrics and cut around the design of two others for a total of seven fabrics. (Your fabric may not need to be "fussy cut".)

I arranged the strips;
then sewed them down the 31" length, right sides together:

Keep sewing the strips together, pressing seams to the side as you go.

When you have the last seam sewn and pressed, lay it right side up on the floor, or your table. Lay the flannel right side down on top of it, having raw edges matched; trim edges as necessary.

Pin all the way around the blanket, leaving an opening for turning:
I pin with balls in, not balls out like Angela, here. See? I'm making her turn them all around. The reason is because a lot of sewing machines have screw holes in the throat plate, and if you sew over pins like I do (Sh! Don't tell on me!) then you don't want the balls to get stuck in the holes. It's frustrating and makes for wonky seams.

Sew all the way around the blanket using a 1/2" seam allowance. Be sure to back stitch on each side of the opening! 

Trim the corners using pinking shears, or clip v notches if you don't have any.

Turn the blanket right side out, press and then top stitch all the way around with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Next, using your yarn and tapestry needle, blanket stitch all the way around the blanket, using the 1/4" top stitch as a guide. 

This is where the book comes in handy. The directions are clearly illustrated and easy to follow. Trust me on this one, before I made this blanket I could t crochet to save my life!

{the puppies love their new blanket!}

Once you have completed the blanket stitch, you can choose a decorative edge to add to it. In this book, there are three options: shell edging, lattice edging and picot edging. I chose the lattice edging because it looked the easiest. My friend Angela showed me how-even though I yelled at her for pinning balls out-and off I went! 

{taking corners like a sports car!}

This book features 20+ projects, I'm confident that even if you've never picked up a crochet hook in all your life you could make something from it. 

Here's a peek inside, some of my favorite things in the book:
{granny square blanket}

{Brightly colored chevron throw-next on my wish list!}

{Nesting Matroyshka dolls, so cute!}

{Flowers! Imagine a bridal bouquet of crocheted flowers!}

I think Mollie Makes always does such a beautiful job of inspiring the creative soul. I've always admired and loved the look of crochet but never thought it could be done by me. I've looked at several tutorials and have tried reading patterns. This book was the first thing I've looked at that really clicked and everything made sense. Even if you're a seasoned pro, this is a must-have book for your library. Every single thing in it is so cute. Total eye candy! 

What's even better is that it is on sale at the publisher's website. Totally worth the $19.95 price tag, but s completely unbelievable deal at $9.98! Ten bucks?? Yes! 


Happy crafting!