Monday, August 18, 2014

Comfort Quilts

I got off track with my sewing after hearing that a colleague of mine had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I offered to make comfort quilts for him, his wife, and his two young kids. Everyone on instagram stepped up and sent loads of lovely blocks that I paired with large pieces of fabric that I had in my stash.

They are all pieced at this point, and now I have to quilt them! I also just signed up for Angled. I am absolutely smitten with the projects! Get ready for some good stuff!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More Facing East

How is my Facing East Quilt coming? Gloriously. I am so in love with it. It is easy paper piecing and quite a well written pattern.

Happy happy colors. And I added some embellishment that you can only see close up!

Once I had pieced all of the templates, I had to begin applique! I don't have a lot of applique practice, so this was definitely new for me.

I am so excited to see it done and on the couch! At this point, I only have 5 circles left to applique. At the moment though, I am sitting in front of my computer trying to distract myself from my itchy, poison ivy covered arms. Have I mentioned that I hate my job? Haha.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Follow the Leader

Warm weather brings quite a bit of outdoor work at my job. We are outside all year round, but they schedule a substantial portion of that for the summer months. That means up at 5, out the door by 6, and working by 7. Sometimes until as late as 7. So I am rather tired. That is why this post is so delayed.

If you are part of the Quick-Sew Baby Quilt Club, you should have already received Follow the Leader! Inspired by a quilt my mom made, it is the second in the Quick-Sew Baby series.

I love how the gradient moves through the pattern of the triangles in this quilt!

I also am in quite a pickle because somehow the charger for my good camera broke. I have had to resort to using my iphone! Ugh. Hopefully I will be able to replace it soon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Facing East QAL Paper Piecing Tutorial

Are you making the Facing East Quilt with us? Just in case you are nervous about paper piecing, I wanted to show you how easy it is! In fact, it is almost easier than regular piecing. Think of it as painting by number....but with fabric.

Some important tools include very thin paper (you can use normal paper, thin paper just comes off more easily), an iron, a nearby lamp/window is suggested, and a ruler. Because there is a lot of ironing, I definitely suggest having an ironing station near your machine. That way, you don't have to get up and sit down so much.

So, cut out your pattern pieces. Be sure to leave a 1/4" seam allowance. Not all patterns have them built in around the edge. Luckily, the Facing East Templates do!

When you paper piece, you apply the fabric to each number in numerical order. So, for this pattern, we want to cut fabric pieces 1 and 2 first. Be sure to cut pieces that are a little larger than the area that they go on. In the pattern, Carolyn has you cut strips at specific widths. I suggest doing this because you don't have to think about how wide the strips need to be to cover each area, and you'll be likely to get full coverage each time. When you paper piece for the first time, a common error is misjudging how big your fabric should be. I always cut my pieces much larger than they need to be so that I don't have to pick out any seams.  

Once you have pieces one and two cut, you are going to sew them to the template. Here is where a lot of people get hung up. You want to apply the pieces to the wrong side of the template so that you can sew along the lines on the right side. My tip is to use a light or a window to get your placement correct. Hold the template up to the light with the fabric behind it. Now you can see if your fabric is overhanging the line you are going to sew on and at the right angle.

Once you get that set, sew down the line using a small stitch length. Again, a small stitch length is suggested to help the paper come of easily. The more you perforate the paper, the less you have to tug at it to get it to come off. I usually set mine at 1.5.

Another tip is to make sure you take one or two stitches over the lines that the seam intersects. This will ensure that when you go over those lines later, you will lock those seams. 

Once you finish your seam, fold the paper back and trim the seam allowance to a 1/4". This reduces the bulk in your block. After that, iron the seam open and flat. 

Simple, right? Now repeat the process. Lay your fabric for segment 3 over the area and cut your over-sized piece. 

Again, sew it on to the wrong side of the template. Here you may notice the importance of the light more. Piece two is likely much larger than it needs to be. If you line up piece 3 with the edge of piece 2, you will have a lot of waste or it may not be at the correct angle for your seam. Hold the paper up to the light and use the shadow of the fabric to help line it up with the line you are planning to stitch. If I had more hands, I would have taken a picture of this step. Unfortunately, I only have the two. 

Same process here. Fold the paper back, trim the seam down to 1/4", and iron piece 3 flat.

Continue this process with all of the segments. Soon, your blocks will start to come together! Above, you can see I have added piece 4.

When I paper piece, I do 4 or 5 blocks at a time. Sew pieces 1 and 2 on all 5 blocks, then move on to piece 3, and so on. This speeds up the process quite a bit.

I can't wait to see this finished! This pattern is so fun to use your creativity with. It has so much potential. I hope you quilt along with us on instagram! I can't wait to see your quilts in progress.

In other news, this girl bought her first car! I finally traded in the 1997 4runner (225,000 miles, been driving it for 11 years) for a 2008 4runner. Doubt I'll ever get another kind of car.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Modern Hexies

I made some pretty little hexies!

Aren't they so saturated and lovely? I was so inspired by my Botanics coordinating Kona bundle that I needed to cut into it. My copy of Savor Each Stitch doesn't come for another week, so I decided to make something small to showcase the colors.

A wall hanging it is! I saw this lovely go by a few weeks ago and wanted to make it so badly. Luckily, she posted this tutorial, and talked me into it on Instagram. She is so nice!

Turns out, you should probably mark your grid before you attach your hexies. Oops, lesson learned. I still like the result though!

This is where I stopped last night. Hopefully I can get it bound and on the wall this week! I am soooo excited for some relaxing and sewing over the long weekend.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Facing East Quilt Along

I have a new designer obsession. Carolyn Friedlander. She's basically amazing. If you have never seen her stuff, she is the designer behind Architextures and Botanics. I have actually been obsessed with her work since Architextures was released. It is just sooo original! And now, she is releasing an awesome book called Savor Each Stitch!

I got to peak at the book, and this quilt stole my breath. It is called Facing East. I knew right away that I needed to make it and had a couple friends jump on board with me. Then Carolyn decided she was going to quilt along with us, and we decided to make it a little more formal!

This will not be your typical formal quilt along though. A large part of the participation will be on instagram using #facingeastqal. Stephanie and I will do posts about the different techniques used in the quilt, but giveaways and prizes will be chosen from the #facingeastqal hashtag. If you have never used instagram, I promise, it is really easy and fun!

I am using the Botanics Kona Coordinates for my quilt. They are here, but I am still waiting on my copy of Savor Each Stitch. It releases July 2. Hurry hurry hurry book!!!!!!!

And, if you want to go ahead and buy your fabric while you wait on your book, Carolyn so graciously provided us with this materials list.

I can't wait to get started! Hope you join us!

Friday, June 27, 2014

OAMM: Month 2

I have had so many people asking me how my OAMM (Once A Month Meals) adventure is going on Instagram, I thought I would start giving monthly status updates here. That way I can give a ton of detail, and not bombard the feeds of people who don't care.

First up, last month. Here is what I made:
- Beef Stir Fry with Snap Peas - awesome
- Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos - would have been good, but I bought a REALLY low grade fish. Mistake 1.
- BLT Pasta - our favorite recipe so far. I did not add all of the chicken broth though because I like a thicker sauce.
- Crockpot hawaiian chicken - good, very summery
- Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken - great! I ate mine in salads
- Honey Balsamic Garlic Chicken - awesome
- Lemon Caper Tilapia Packets - good, but again, the fish I bought ruined them for us.
- Lemon Chicken Asparagus Pasta - We actually haven't eaten it yet!
- Paleo Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms - We did not like this at all. This was the one we considered a fail.
- Paleo Swedish Meatballs and Gravy - Great, but I think I would leave out the celery salt. I also added heavy cream to the gravy.
- Skillet Spaghetti Pie - this one had great flavor, but I think they called for a dish that was way too big. By the time it was heated through, it was dry. Next time, I will use a smaller dish.
- Smokey Monterrey Jack Burgers - Great

Ok, so if you wanted to know what we ate and how we liked it, there you go! As far as how everything held up in the freezer, I was surprised at how successful it all was. Even the pasta defrosted great. The only one that was 'weird' was my gravy for the meatballs. The cornstarch was not thrilled to mix in the second time around. It was still delicious though.

Lemon Caper Tilapia

The other thing that isn't super clear until you start doing it, is that you don't prepare an entire meal and then freeze it. More often than not, you are prepping the main portion of the dish. After you defrost it, it generally takes less than 10 minutes to cook, during which you can also prepare a veggie and a starch. Not every meal is like that. Some are casseroles or entire dishes, but you are not creating homemade versions of lean cuisine. You still serve a fresh, not soggy, not obviously reheated dinner (or breakfast/lunch) to your family. 

My number one TIP would be regarding thawing. Either I have a cold fridge, or the thaw sheet isn't 100% accurate. I would absolutely suggest taking the meal you want to eat from the freezer to the fridge the night before rather than the morning of. Basically, try to give it a full 24 hours in the fridge, not 12.

Cilantro Lime Chicken in a Salad

Best Feature? The labels. Anyone in your family can take a meal out of the freezer and know exactly how to prepare it. It can even be a great way to get kids involved in the cooking if you trust them. Haha. 

My other suggestions would be to read the first timer tips they send out via email and actually follow them. They are so right. I ignored almost all of them and did not have a pen at the grocery store, did not prep ahead of time, did not wear comfy shoes, and somehow forgot to eat breakfast and lunch. If you do the opposite of everything I did, you will be golden.

How did I like it, one month later? I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And I am not just saying that. It removed SO MUCH 'what are we going to eat tonight' stress from my life. It was the equivalent of having a chef. I basically came home to a meal that took minimal time and effort to create, but was still delicious. Often, it was something we otherwise would not have eaten because I could not fit the prep or planning into my schedule. This has truly changed my life. I love to cook, I just don't have the time. This allows me to still eat wonderful homemade stuff, without having to kill myself doing it.

Paleo Swedish Meatballs
So maybe I am not cut out for food glamor shots. Haha. Here is a look at next month's menu!

- Crunchy Chicken Strips
- Summer Chicken Salad
- Asian Meatballs
- Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders
- Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork Sliders
- BBQ Baked Chicken Thighs
- Best Burger Ever with Secret Sauce
- BLT Pasta
- Ginger Soy Salmon
- Grilled Beef Teryaki
- Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken
- Paleo Pulled Pork
- Ranch Cheddar Burgers
- Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken

So that's it! Let me know if you have any questions. If you decide to sign up, please click through from here! I get a little something for referring you! If not, be back tomorrow because I have a new quilt along to tell you about!