Friday, October 31, 2008

Scrappy Halloween Quilt

Back at the beginning of October I decided to "see what I could come with" using my meager stash of Halloween scraps. I used this Disappearing Nine Patch tutorial for my squares. I cruised through the initial assembly, but then stalled when trying to figure out what to use for the sashing and the back of the quilt.

I decided to use black, since it is a Halloween quilt after all! I think the black did a good job of making it look put together and helping to tone down the randomness.

By the way, this quilt turned out WAY bigger than I had imagined (measuring 52" by 70" ). I was hoping for a little lap quilt to throw over a chair during October. What I ended up with was a rather LARGE throw.
I have no idea how I'll ever quilt this thing with my beginning quilting skills. Hopefully by next October I can get that figured out. This trick-or-treater fabric is my favorite scrap on the front.

I'm feeling lucky that I found this fabric for the back that pulls all this crazy randomness together. It's probably my favorite part!
EDITED: See the finished quilt HERE!

And finally, I finished the binding on my Fabric Wall Mini Quilt. I am very pleased with my final results. And my mitred corners turned out great!

I could use some work on my hand sewing for the back of the binding, though. Truth be told, when I was growing up, I always had my mom to do all the hand sewing on my clothes. I guess I should've done some more practicing when I had the chance. Sorry, Mom!

Here it is hanging in my sewing room!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Great Pumpkin Cake

This idea was initiated by our cousin Nancy who found the recipe and directions HERE. The cream cheese icing recipe on that site is easy and yummy. Nancy has decorated cakes for a living; however, I really think that this cake and decorating could be done easily enough by those of us who haven't decorated cakes professionally. Mine is shown below.

Frosting a bundt cake is interesting, but the kids really do NOT care what it looks like. If it's cake and they get to eat it that's what matters to them.Looks like a little finger took a swipe on the stem when I wasn't looking.

I probably went a little overboard on the vines and leaves, but oh well...I was having fun making them.

I also made homemade bread today and tinted it orange for the season. Add the tint when you are dissolving your yeast. We sometimes have an "Orange" dinner during October and make/or tint as much as we can Orange...i.e. sweet potatoes, or tinted mashed potatoes, orange soda and/or orange ice cubes, carrots, orange Jell-O, etc. The main dish can be tricky to find something orange but we do the best we can. The kids always have fun when we do these dinners.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tie-Dye Jack-o-Lantern Tees

Directions for this project came from the Family Fun magazine, Oct. 2008 issue.

We used RIT dye, bought at craft stores for about $2.99 a box, color Sunshine Orange--Mixing 2 boxes, instead of 1 box, to the 3 gallons of water for our 7 t-shirts. We let our shirts "stew" for about 20 minutes, each kid taking his/her turn stirring the pot. We are very happy with the color that they turned out--O.K. so maybe L. isn't exactly thrilled with orange, but she was a good sport and went along with the rest of us.
Hint #1: Depending on how you decide to dry your shirts (line dry or dryer) you will definitely need more than one day to do this project.--tying, dying, and drying on one day and embellishing the jack-0-lantern faces on another day or two. If you put faces on the back of the shirt you will first have to let the front side dry and then embellish the back of the shirt.Hint #2: If you have really small people at your house, you may want to do the majority of the rubber banding yourself before letting them "help". It doesn't take a terribly long time but, if like our house, you have a number of kids who require help all at the same time then it could get frustrating for the helper and the helpee.
One of the more exciting parts of this project for the kids was cutting off the rubber bands to get the big "reveal" of the design they each created. This was their first tie-dye experience and so they weren't sure how it all would work. We had a bigger kid help a little kid do the cutting, but then the little kid could unravel the rubber bands tied around the shirt. Here are a couple of the finished products. At our kids' school they cannot wear costumes, so they all plan on wearing their shirts on Thursday for the class party day. Lucky us, we don't have school this year on Halloween. I can't wait to sleep in!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Fabric Wall" Mini Quilt--Revisited

Way back when, I made this quilt. Then it sat in my closet waiting to be finished. And, it sat, and sat...until I figured out that the reason it wasn't getting finished, was because I really didn't like how it turned out.

This week I was determined to fix the problem and get it done! Besides, my sewing room wall is staring blankly at me waiting for this little ditty to get hung up. (If anyone has any tips on the best way to hang a little quilt, I'd greatly appreciate it!)

So here is a quick look back at the before:

And here it is after:

You can see that I cut each color apart, added a thin white sashing, and rearranged the color order. I am MUCH happier with this look as it doesn't feel so RAINBOW-ish now.

(Finished Quilt Measures 18" by 25")

I tested out my new (but rather shaky) machine quilting skills on it and, again, am very happy with the results from a distance. It has the quilted, scrunchy look that I was going for. I also tried to do a real binding to finish it off using this method. It was easy enough and looked great, but I had to unpick it twice due to my own miscalculations with the fabric. For my third attempt I have to go out and buy a coordinating piece of fabric just for the binding since I messed up my remaining leftovers. Oh, well. Live and learn!

I found out, in all my Googling that this type of quilt is sometimes referred to as a Spectrum Quilt or a Color Wheel Quilt. You can see lots of beautiful variations here and here.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I've been wanting to replace the arrangement of photos that formerly filled these frames. They just weren't working. This is so much better (minus my helmet hair) :)

I was definitely complicating this project by thinking I need to print the photos and then get them reduced to the right size. Then this morning had an epiphone. I uploaded the digital photos onto my computer and pulled them up in Preview. Then I minimized our heads to fit within the borders of my 4x6 frames (4/$1.29 at IKEA). Then I grabbed a piece of copy paper and used my monitor as a lightbox to trace the outline of our faces. Done in less than 15 minutes. And that includes cutting. It would be fun to do this with each new member of our family over the years and hang the whole series as a group. I've got the perfect spot in mind.

***good luck getting your own 10 month old to sit still long enough to snap a profile. that was a doozy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Machine Quilting

I am a happy girl these days! I have been trying to figure out (or work up the nerve to try) machine quilting. I have a sewing/embroidery machine that will also do free motion quilting. But, since I'm the free motion in the quilting, I was a little bit nervous to try--I didn't really want to mess up any of my projects with my practicing.

I've been doing some reading and watching videos on the internet and as it turns out, it's not that complicated, only slightly intimidating. But I gave it a whirl this week and am happy to report that I really like it! I think I could really become addicted to this type of quilting. Besides, I love not paying someone to quilt my projects for me. (Just for the record, I've never actually had anything quilted simply because I'm too cheap to pay for it.)

Here is my practice piece:

You can see that my technique needs some work, but I am happy with the look from far away! Now, all I need is about 100 more hours of practice and I'll have nice even designs. But, I'm a firm believer that you have to start somewhere...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tents and TeePees Part Two--The TeePee

Here is where you can find part one of this post about tents.

In this post it's all about The TeePee!

This teepee has been on my wish list for about 5 years (seriously!). Two years ago I even made one for my friend Kathy's kids for Christmas, since she doesn't really sew. I guess the fact that it takes 10 yards of fabric has prevented me from making it sooner. That much fabric is hard to find cheap! I ended up using a set of sheets (queen size top and bottom) and pretty much used every ounce of them (other than a few pieces just big enough for my quilting stash).

The sheet set was well used and even stained (from an unfortunate ball point pen accident) so I had no problem turning it into this creation. And since it's stained (you can only see the pen spots up close) I think I've decided to let my kids use my fabric markers and go to town decorating the outside of the teepee once I've actually give it to them at Christmas!

Here is a view of the inside with the 4 yr old and the 2 yr old. You can see that it's quite roomy! I think it's at least 4 feet tall on the inside middle. Plenty of room for a few rascals!

The pattern for this project is Butterick 4251. The directions in the pattern are a little harder to follow, so I wouldn't recommend this for beginning sewers. But, if consider yourself a relatively good seamstress you will do fine. And for those of you who don't have kids, but have a 4 legged "baby", you could try a tent for them using McCalls 5412.

Considering that I have seen teepee's for sale in kids magazines starting at around $150, this project is rather affordable! The key would be to find fabric that is inexpensive (thus the reason I recyced my sheets). The PVC poles will run you around $30 (I got mine free from hubby's work scraps).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Skull Font

I watched Martha Stewart today for some fun Halloween ideas and got a couple.

Click here to download a skull font. Compliments of Skull A Day.
Or this one. Click here.
And click here for Martha's coffin treat boxes.

Or one more...a connect the dots Skull picture, also from Skull A Day. This has 458 dots!!!! That should keep some boys busy for a while. My Z., who is 7 yrs. old, did it and thought it was rather cool. So I am thinking we'll be printing more off for his school Fall party at the end of the month.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gift Garland

I'm so excited for the Holidays. Here's the second project for L's holiday room decor.

I saw this idea in my latest Pottery Barn catalog and I just fell in love. I had all the supplies to make this in my stash (ribbon, wrapping paper) except I needed to purchase a few more jewelry boxes. If you have a local Xpedx that is where I got my boxes. They have a ton of sizes. I used yarn and a thumb tack to hang, but I think it needs something sturdier. And the yarn looks kind of junky against all the nice ribbon. So I will replace that when it actually goes up for the Holidays. And make it a lot longer.

here's the pottery barn photo

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Halloween Party People

This all started with Leslie's party people post and her second party people post. I wanted to try those decorations and so now we'll add the Halloween version of party people. My kids are so excited to have the Halloween decorations up. The sign letters you can print yourself can be found here.
I found my printed tissue paper in the Halloween/Seasonal section at Wal-Mart. They had candy corns, Happy Halloween, Polka-dots (I think I am going to go get some more of those), and others. You can probably find them at any party supply place too. I am not sure how I feel about the 2 different colors together, but I thought I'd try it out. Also, the patterned sheets don't always come in 8 sheets, usually only 5. So I cut them in half width wise and then stacked them and followed the directions. I kind of like that smaller size too.

Let your imagination run with it. The kids will think it is a party all day, every day. Thanks, Leslie for finding this fun and easy idea.

Party People continued....

I just had to show how cute these Martha decorations look. They are still hanging (and might linger even longer) because I love them so much. I MUST make pink ones for L's bday in December.

and you can see my plate wall...I've been gradually adding to it. If you see any great finds in these colors let me know. I ended up using dessert plates in 5-8". They just seem to be the right size.

here is the garland:

(after viewing this photo I suddenly have the urge to clear my refrigerator of the mess/storage. U-G-L-Y! )

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tents and TeePees Part One--The Tent

We don't know a kid who doesn't love to make a tent--girl or boy! We've all made plenty of tents in our day, and nothing cures boredom faster than blankets draped over a couch or a table. Here is a simple way to make a permanent sort of kid tent.

This idea comes from our mom.

This tent in legendary in our family! Our mom made it when we were all kids about 30+ years ago. It is known to all of us simply as The Snoopy Tent. It is a simple concept, really. It is made to fit over a regular old card table.

She made the top out of one 42" square of fabric (measure your table to get the correct size). The sides are one continuous length of fabric (approximately 42" long times 4 sides). She sewed the sides to the top square leaving a space on the front for the door opening. She finished the bottom hem and side of the door openings with a simple double fold and top stitch. The door was just a length of fabric slightly wider than the opening that she finished with contrasting skinny double fold bias tape.

She made a circle cut in one of the sides for a window and finished it off again with contrasting skinny double fold bias tape. Amazingly enough, after 6 kids and many years of use and abuse, the window has never been torn. And, yes, this is the original Snoopy Tent--Still cool after all these years!

Stay tuned for part two--The TeePee!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Create Happiness

Every Fall our Church's women's organization, called the Relief Society, holds a general meeting that is broadcast throughout the world. The Relief Society is one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world. It began in 1842 and has been functioning ever since.

The meeting was held this past weekend and I think that for most of us our favorite speaker was President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who is currently serving as a counselor to our Prophet, President Monson. Below is an excerpt from his talk that really spoke to my heart.

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

"Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

"Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.

"You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”

"If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.

"But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.

"If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.

"You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us.
The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

"What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

"If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.

"The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you."

If you feel discouraged and frustrated, take heart that you are not alone in your feelings. Also take heart that you are doing good in your corner of the world--no matter how big or small that corner may be. And remember that creating is a divine gift that we as women have been given.

You can read or watch his entire talk if you're interested. The link to watch it is for the entire meeting. At the bottom of the screen you can scroll to the right and double click on the picture of Pres. Uchtdorf to listen solely to his talk. It really was an uplifting and motivating talk and is only about 22 minutes long.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Like Father, like....Daughter?!?!!

My hubby is an avid (or rabid--depending on the time of year) outdoorsman and archery hunter. This year our oldest daughter L. turned 12 years old and can now hunt with him. She is extremely excited. For me that means doing some sewing with camoflauge to get her ready to hunt. I bet you didn't ever think that you would be reading about hunting and camoflauge clothing on this particular blog--but I had an inkling....this isn't the first time I've made camo clothing for the family.

So a week or so ago I had to sew like crazy to get her ready. I was working on some other projects, but they've had to take the back burner for a bit so that I could get her outfitted in time to go hunting on a Saturday morning. She is tall enough at 12 (5"6", maybe taller) and skinny enough that buying pants for her is such a nightmare that it really isn't an option. So that is where I come in to save the day.

I've been working on pants for both her and hubby, and a couple tees for them both. One thing about camoflauge is that I really think you have to be in the right mood to sew on it, and sew on it, and sew on it, which is what I've felt I've been doing. I just don't automatically get excited or inspired with projects while looking at camo fabric. And I've learned over the years that there is a wrong and a right camoflauge print pattern for the project. Hubby's print pattern of choice is Mossy Oak BreakUp. But they also make camo print patterns with names like Seclusion 3D, Autumn Aspen, Mossy Oak Grass, RealTree Hardwood, Desert Storm, Forest Floor, Superflauge Game, Advantage....and I'm sure the list can go on and on and on.

Anyway...I'm sure you've already had enough with the camo. Back to the actual project--the pants are just basic elastic waist pull on pants lined with fleece to keep them roasty toasty while they are sitting up in the tree stand waiting and waiting at "0 dark thirty". That is what time hubby tells me he is getting up when it is a hunting day. Well, hopefully there will not be too much waiting because we sure would like some venison to put in the freezer.

The pants turned out great, if I do say so, and hubby was quite impressed with the pockets. He usually is quite particular about his hunting apparel. He'll draw out pictures for me of the "options" he wants as far as pockets, which he did for these pants--a little cargo style pocket down on the leg with a button flap closure, whether he wants them lined or not, or some other special feature. Or he'll direct me to some article of clothing in the Cabela's magazine or some other hunting magazine to show me what he was thinking about having made.

This time around I even reinforced the pockets with half of a snap so that they are "riveted" like regular jeans that you would buy in the store. I've had problems in the past with hubby tearing pockets after lots of use, so I this should solve the problem. And it looks pretty good, too.
If you haven't ever tried drawstring elastic it is really cool stuff. This is what it looks like before you pull the drawstring. It is nice to have so you can adjust the waist for a variety of situations (lots of layers or not so many underneath) or if more than one person may be using the garment (one person slightly more skinny than another--I am anticipating this with upcoming children who may go hunting with hubby.)Once you determine the position of the drawstring you can then pull it out of the elastic--make sure you've already sewn your elastic loop together. Then you just put it in like you would normally use elastic--only difference is you need a buttonhole exit for the drawstring, either on the inside of the pants waistband, or outside, whichever you prefer. This will have to be done before you sew the casing.

I got tired of trying to get the two of them together and take their picture actually wearing the pants. Oh well, hope that you can get the idea anyway.


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