Friday, June 29, 2012

Dear So and So...

Dear Kona,
The fact that you don't do dye lots for your solids is really irritating me.  Twice I've ran out of a certain color fabric, went and bought more, only to find out that it doesn't match the original piece. I think it's high time you get that figured out.

Dear Spray Starch,
How in the world have I gone so long without you?  I was having issues with a recent block only to find that a little starching did the trick.  Now I want to starch the world over.  You are my new BFF.

Dear Color Catchers,
Like spray starch, I have just recently realized your value.  I have no idea how you work, but whatever the formula, I'm amazed every time.  Thanks for catching all the reds from Travis' quilt.  I'm sure you will come in handy for future projects as well.

Dear Thrift Store Sheets,
I know there are plenty of people who don't appreciate you, but I am not one of them.  You continue to help me save big $$ on quilt backs, as well as provide me with a fun new hobby (hunting for bargains!).  You and I will stay friends as long as you keep giving me beauties.

Dear Warm and White/Natural,
If your prices continue to rise towards the stratosphere, I will have to sell a kidney to afford you.

Dear "Fancy" Electronic Sewing Machine,
Why must you torment me with your fickleness?  Just sew already.

Dear 15 year old Kenmore,
I'm sorry you must work so hard, but your counterpart is giving me fits.  You, on the other hand, are like an old work horse: strong, reliable, and easy to get a long with.  Someday when I am able to afford a shiny new replacement work horse friend you will be able to retire, but until then I am happy you keep persevering.

Dear WIP List,
Consider yourself CONQUERED!  Now I can move on to something new...


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Start Here Quilt is finished

Remember earlier this year when I did my collaborative quilt sewing class/project?

Well, I finally sent it to Lynn to be quilted and just got it back Father's Day weekend when I met up with Emily in Nebraska along with the other sibs to surprise our brother.  I am so happy with what she did with it.

I tried to find one of the dark blue pieces from the quilt again at my fabric store to use as the binding, but was unsuccessful.  (See, my natural tendency is to match.  Obviously I still need to work on being random.)  So in keeping with the randomness and scrappiness of the project I rounded up the fabric pieces that were left and cut strips to piece together for the binding.  (Amanda Jean would be so proud.)

And I had just enough to make it around, just by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as pieces wide enough to use.  I wished that I had had more of the stripe piece below--and could've cut it on the bias, but no such luck.

Thanks to all the ladies who made blocks, inspired me to be more random, and humored me with this project: Jenny, Cassie, Cindy, Amber, Laura, Lindsay, Natalie and Sue, you all are great! 

Anyone up for round two? 
I've got more ideas floating around.....

Finished measurements:
55 1/2 inches by 68 inches

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

U of M Extension Canning Newsletters

I'm on the e-mail list for the Home Food Preservation Newsletter from the U of M.
It's good to stay on top of things when you are doing home canning.

Recently I received notice that they've archived their newsletters online.

Check out the website if you are interested.
Home Food Preservation Newsletters

Each issue has a small list of what is included.  Most of the issues are about 4 pages of information with links to other recipes, etc.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy 40th birthday Travis

The older of our two brothers is, shall we say, somewhat of a "party pooper".  Its a known fact in the family, but we love him anyway.  So we weren't exactly sure how it would all pan out when we decided we'd  surprise him for his birthday and just show up at his home in Nebraska. (and none of us live remotely close to him by the way)  Even his wife wasn't sure how he'd take it.  Too bad, we decided. We're coming anyway.

And then the craziness began as we put together a hiking/camping theme quilt for him, consulted with siblings and tweaked ideas and plans.  And tried to coordinate the day and arrival at his home--which ended up being Father's Day Sunday. 

Round #1
Our parents (NE), Renae (MN) and family, and Shauna (NE) and family 
show up and wake him up from his nice nap.

Round #2 about an hour later
Emily (UT) and family and Nathan (WY) and family show up.
More surprise!

Including Travis' family we ended up with 30 people at his home.
Leslie and her family were the only ones who didn't come.
But she is very pregnant and feeling pretty yuck.

So here is the front of the quilt we made for him.  3 large bandanna topography maps of a couple parks that he's hiked were the main focus.  And then we just used mostly solids that picked up the colors from those maps to add a little design. 

The back of his quilt is a bit Piet Mondrian.  Basically that translates into "I just winged it" as I was putting strips together and then cutting and turning them to make a different design.  I consulted with my kids and they told me what they liked and didn't like until we came up with the finished backing. The tan areas he can use to document where he's hiked if he wants.

One of the coolest things about this quilt is the actual quilting.  We love Lynn, and we love that she takes our requests and makes the magic happen.  On each end, in order to get the quilt a little longer for his 6'5" body I added a wide border in the green solid--6 or 8" inches.  I can't remember as we were doing this so quickly.

On one end she quilted the saying, "I'd rather be lost in the woods than found in the city."  And the other end reads, "Pavement is overrated, I'd rather be hiking."  Travis loved that part.  And he showed us all on the maps the places where he's been.

We had a fun time and we totally surprised him.
His family did a great job of keeping the secret.
He told his wife, "You got me good."

Happy Birthday Travis!

Cut 7" squares and did a disappearing 9 patch design.
Bias tape from the stash to frame in the bandannas.
Ordered the bandanna maps from HERE.

Machine quilted by Lynn Peterson
Linking up to Fabric Tuesday
Finished size:  HUGE (we forgot to measure, but it completely covers his 6'5" frame. And you can see above it takes up almost the entire floor of his living room.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Make your own "bun" feet

Our cousin Tiffany came to visit last week with her husband who was coming on architect business. For a couple days, during the days while he was busy, she helped me with some slipcovers on my couches and wing back chairs.  One of the first things that we did on the couches was to change the feet.  These couches we got free from some people at Church and although the couches are in really good shape, they needed some updating, including the feet.  They also needed to be raised up some so that they didn't feel so much like low-rider couches. 

80's color upholstery and blah! feet. 

If you've never changed the feet on your couch, buying new ones can be pricey.  We checked out Home Depot and theirs were in the price range of $2.50 to $10.26 apiece.  Times that by 8 and you could be getting up there.  And since we wanted some feet that were 8 inches long we were looking at the pricier side of things.

So enter our project

I really just wanted some square tapered feet--pretty straight forward, but not available in the length we needed.  So instead we bought a 4 x 4 length of lumber and had them cut it into the lengths we needed there at the store.  Hubby told me he could've done that too--and I know he could, but they'll do that for free for you at Home Depot.  So why not and save yourself a step.  And lugging an 8 foot piece of 4 x 4 is not any easy task.

We brought the pieces home and hubby helped shape them for us.  There was a bit extra, just in case....

We used our miter saw and he set it up to cut some angles and then went to town.  

Afterwards he measured and drilled the holes for the bolts and we put those in.  
One end of the hanger bolt is made to go into the wood (wood screw) and the other end 
is made to go into the bottom of the couch (metal screw) into the metal fitting.

Then I got to sand them up nicely using our orbital sander (below).  
You can do it by hand, it will take longer, or use a different sander, 
but this one works great and the work went quickly.

You can put down a little piece carpet padding on your work surface so that the feet 
don't move around while you are sanding.  Works slick!

Left sanded edges and right unsanded edges.
You just want to soften them up a bit so you don't hurt yourself if you happen to kick them.

Paint or stain as desired and then they're ready to go.
I'm pretty sure I am going to leave them natural and just seal them up.


  • 4" x 4" x 8' length of fir lumber ($8.83).  Make sure you find a good one with as few knots as possible and straight. **Don't buy pressure treated timbers. We should've bought the fir board ($10.16) as I think it would've already been dried out more and not so sappy.
  • 5/16" x 3" Hanger bolts (4 pkgs. @ $.98/pair) You'll need to determine the size and length you need for your couch by measuring the old ones.
Total price:
$1.59 each for custom square tapered feet.  Love it!

I'll show you the couch slipcover later in the week. I've got just a little more to do on it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Camoflauge Zig Zag Quilt for my Hubby

Last year my hubby turned 40 and we, or I should say I, did nothing for him.  Yeah, I know, big time slacker wife.  As I was looking back and trying to figure out why this happened, it turned out that we were in the midst of a massive layoff which started a couple months before his birthday and continued on in a couple months afterward.  We didn't know if we'd have a job and for how long.  It was so stressful.  I had a hard time thinking about throwing a big bash or going away (which is what I really wanted to do) when we weren't sure what was going to happen the next day, literally.

So this quilt is to make up for that somewhat...I hope.

I may be actually making up for this for some time as he had some major surprises for me on my 40th.
And we still need to get away without the kids.

Emily sent me the inspiration link for this quilt--a large chevron pattern.  Cuts quickly and sews up quickly which is what I needed since I had to quickly assemble the top, send it to the quilter in order to get it back to me to be bound and all in time for Father's Day.

I added the green and lighter brown to pick up more of the color within the camoflauge.
I didn't get a chance to wash it before giving it to him, but I have since then and it has softened up nicely.
That Mossy Oak Break-Up fabric was a little stiff.  Like denim or lightweight canvas.

On the back I just pieced a couple strips.
They look "off" in this pic but the wind was blowing some.

  • Cut 10" squares and then cut into HST.
  • Sewed 8 blocks across and 9 blocks down.
  • No border
  • Machine bound with the dark print from the front.
  • Machine quilted by Lynn Peterson in meandering pattern.  She actually alternated the meander between zigzags so that you can subtly see the zigzag stripes on the back.
Finished size:
74 inches by 82 inches

Friday, June 8, 2012

Amish Buggy Update

Just a quick update for those that are participating in the block swap but are not regularly checking flickr.  Finished blocks are starting to pop up in the photo stream and they are looking awesome!!  As of today we have 14 participants.  (You can sign up anytime as the mail date isn't until July 15th)

There is also a discussion going on about what is a "true" Amish color.  From my research (google!), "true" Amish quilts use dark, muted colors (red, blue, black, purple) with pastels (pink, light blues, light greens, etc) only creeping in from the use of children's clothing (I don't think adults wear pastels).  The use of yellow and orange is avoided as these colors are considered "too flashy."  Since I am making a loose interpretation of an Amish quilt I don't mind yellow/orange.  But I guess you get to decide if you want a "true" quilt or a "loose interpretation."

By the way, I have yet to make a single block for this swap.  I've pulled fabrics, but no cutting.  Maybe tonight while my boys are camping and my girls are watching a girly movie I can get started.  Fingers crossed...

Here is a decidedly non-Amish quilt using the same blocks that is equally as cool as the original inspiration!!

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The 3 C's of a Modest Swimsuit

Today is our last day of school.  Hallelujah!!

Our pool pass is purchased and we're ready to go.
With all the FABULOUS weather we've had here over the last couple months
here in MN we started making swimsuits clear back in March.

More than a few weeks ago when I was having daughter #1 try on a tankini top that I had put together
we came up spontaneously with the 3 C's of Swimsuits (or modesty in general)

Cute, Comfortable, and Coverage

With all the swimsuits we make that is exactly what we are aiming for at our home. 
I might also have to add a 4th C:  constructed well.

We tried out this new pattern:  Kwik Sew 3672, which I have had in my stash for some time.  We love this skirt--used it earlier this Spring on all the Chevron skirts--but hadn't yet made the top.

Love it!  This is probably our new favorite tankini top.

It is probably the most comfortable tankini top ever.  Technically it is an "activewear" pattern--like a tennis top or for yoga, but I'm telling you it makes an awesome swim tankini. The coverage is so great and it sews together rather quickly too.  It is very similar to this Land's End tankini top, which I am going to use for inspiration on a couple alteration ideas including some color blocking on my next tankini.

I had to try it out on my daughter first to see if there were any kinks in the pattern that I would need to adjust before making this for a custom order I had.  The only changes we made were to add length (that is the norm around here) and then included bra cups along with the bra shelf.

I've already made 5 of these--one each for daughter #1 and #2, 2 for me and one for my custom order, who has already worn hers, loves it and wants another one.  This might just be our new go-to tankini pattern.

Hamming it up for the camera--showing off the swim bodies.

Here are what their swim short will be like that match the tops.
I didn't make them put them on for the "shoot".

And here is the top on a not-so-skinny-minnie: a.k.a. me.
We're wearing sunglasses to be incognito.

Ahhh!'s going to be a good one.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The End of the School Year

3 days left of school and I was able to get all 4 teachers' gifts completed.  One of my kids has 2 teachers who job share.  This is the second time we've had that situation and the kids seem to enjoy it.

Anyway, I made tote bags for all of them.  I feel like I haven't made bags in a long while.  And even longer since I've busted out my embroidery machine.

Glad they are all done, and glad that school is almost out.  Looking forward to sleeping in on Thursday morning....and Friday.  And then maybe the week after that we'll try to get ourselves on some sort of Summer schedule.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Canning Ideas and Recipes

Here is a list of the canning recipes we have posted over the course of the last couple seasons.  Hopefully we've caught them all.  We will be adding to them as we post more recipes we've tried.

Pears and Peaches

Regular Raspberry Freezer Jam

Apple Pie Filling #2


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