Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wedding quilt finished!

It's been a long haul, but I'm excited to finally be able to say that my brother's wedding quilt is finished! And the best part is, I finished it with a week to spare before the big day. You can imagine my sigh of relief when that final stitch went into the binding and the last thread was cut. Whew!
This was an interesting quilt to make in that the bulk of my time and energy was spent on the quilting itself, rather than the piecing. I spent very little time at all on piecing since it's a whole cloth quilt (my first!). The front was made from three pieces, with the widest piece placed in the center. The only time I felt really frustrated with the piecing process was when I couldn't get the print to line up properly on one of the pieces. In the end, it wasn't off by much and I don't know that it's noticeable to the untrained eye.
The quilting itself took several weeks. I spent pretty much every day during Master W.'s nap and some evening time quilting, quilting, quilting until my pregnant belly started to get sore from sitting in front of my sewing machine for too long. That sounds like a lot of time each day! Really, though, it was probably two or maybe three hours max each day, four or five days a week. The finished quilt measures 60x70", the perfect size for the newlyweds to snuggle under while watching a movie or favorite TV show.
Looking at the front, I'm incredibly proud of how the geometric quilting turned out. My brother and (almost) sister-in-law found inspiration in this gorgeous long-armed quilt made by Krista at Spotted Stones that I had shown them and had asked that I do the same kind of quilting on their quilt. The geometric lines are clean and modern, and fit their sense of personal style perfectly.
The back is where I found myself most challenged. I have a long way to go before I can say that I've mastered setting the proper tension when quilting, as you can see in the photo below. It's not terrible, but nowhere near as neat and tidy as I would have preferred. I'm hoping that the first washing will make some of my little mistakes less noticeable, and also that my brother and his fiancee will love it anyway. I suppose that if I'd been able to use the same color thread on both sides, then the mistakes wouldn't have been as noticeable. But given that I think the quilt looks best with the green stitching on top and gray on the bottom, I'm just going to have to be happy with the way it turned out.
I hope you don't mind me sharing a bit of the ups-and-downs of making this quilt. I'd love to show off lots of gorgeous "perfect quilt" shots. But handmade isn't perfect. And learning isn't perfect. But love is. And this quilt has a lot of love in it. So that makes it perfect, right?
My brother and future sister-in-law have excellent taste in fabric, by the way. Here's what they chose for the quilt:

  • Birch Organics' Mod Basics in Abacus Green for the top of the quilt
  • Robert Kaufman's Pure Organic in Steel for the back and binding

  • Special thanks to Rachel of Stitched in Color and Elizabeth of Seams French, two incredibly talented quilters who answered my quilty questions and offered up advice that helped guide me in the right direction when planning out this quilt. I highly encourage you to take a moment to check out their blogs. Not only are these ladies super talented, but they are very kind and generous with their time and talents.
    You can find this project linked up at:

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    The 100 Day Hustle

    Kelsey over at Kelsey Sews has hit upon a brilliant idea to help all of us busy bees finish up our outstanding projects before the end of the year; it's called The 100 Day Hustle. I'm going to keep my to-do list modest, because I know I won't get much done after the baby arrives. I do, however, still have quite a few things that I wish to accomplish by the end of 2012:
    1. Finish my brother's wedding quilt
    2. Halloween costumes for the kids (Peter Pan for Miss C. and maybe Lightning McQueen for Master W.)
    3. Christmas stocking for the baby
    4. Christmas gift for Miss C.'s teacher
    5. Finish the remaining green blocks for my postage stamp quilt
    I'm crossing my fingers that I can get even a fraction of this finished by the end of the year. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of December?

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Quiet time and the wedding quilt

    I've been spending all my free time lately working on my brother's wedding quilt, which isn't as much time as I would like considering my free time occurs only when my wee ones are sleeping. It's been a long haul on a quilt that at one point seemed so simple (how hard could a whole cloth quilt be, right?). I hit a major milestone yesterday when I finally finished up the quilting. Hooray!

    I spent Master W.'s nap time today unpicking my grid (the pink stitching) and it felt so good to sit in complete silence with a project that required absolutely no thought and little concentration.

    What a rare, treasured afternoon.

    I rested against a few pillows and sat in the quiet for a good hour before my little guy awoke, enjoying the peaceful silence. It was a perfect time for saying a few prayers and reflecting on how life is about to change once again.

    I read recently that we Americans often so get caught up in "being busy" that we fear the quiet, the down times of the day. So we fill our days with television shows, web surfing, activities and other "must-dos" that keep us busy to the point of exhaustion.

    Where do I fall in all this? I'm a homebody. I know many people who thrive on being busy, but it makes me anxious. If truth be told, there's no place I'd rather be than home with my husband and kids. I love the laughter, the wild antics and the general warmth my children's very presence brings to my home. But I also love the quiet times when I can peek in my kids' bedroom door and see them sleeping like little angels (don't kids always look like perfect angels when they sleep?).

    How do you handle the quiet times? For us mamas, I know they are few and far between. Do you embrace them? Do they make you want to find something to do to fill them?

    Saturday, September 15, 2012

    Softly Against Black: Mosaic Contest Entry

    Rachel of Stitched in Color has teamed up with the folks at Fresh Modern Fabric to host a super-fun mosaic contest. The theme is "Softly Against Black" and all you have to do is create a mosaic of 12 fabrics found in the Fresh Modern Fabric shop and share your link on Rachel's post for a chance to win.

    I ran out of thread tonight with only inches left to go on the quilting of my brother's wedding quilt (of course!), so I had a little time on my hands. The rabbit print was my inspiration fabric. It made me think of bedtime stories and how peaceful my sweeties look when they are sleeping.
    You can all of these little beauties over at Fresh Modern Fabric right now. 

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Cozy Up: 'Blueberries for Sal'

    Finding a vintage children's book in the stacks of the children's section of the library always makes me feel as though I've found a piece of buried treasure. Sure, I like modern children's books. But I love vintage children's literature.

    Last week's fab find was 'Blueberries for Sal', written by Robert McCloskey. The story opens with Sal and her mama (don't you just love her mama's outfit and hair?!) going to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries to can for the winter.

    Sal follows her mama, eating berries along the way, until she becomes too tired to follow anymore. So she sits in a berry patch  for a while to enjoy some blueberries.

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the hill, a baby bear and his mama are eating berries to fatten themselves up for winter. Baby bear soon becomes to tired to hustle along behind mama bear, so he sits down in a berry patch to eat his fill.

    Soon, both Sal and the baby bear decide it's time to find their mamas. You can imagine what happens next...

    Miss C. was on the edge of her seat the first time we read it, wondering what was going to happen when each mama discovered that she was being followed by someone other than her own little one. And she couldn't wait to read it again and again! Even Master W., who often won't sit still for any book that doesn't contain a train or truck, was enthralled by this story.

    You'll have to pick up a copy to find out what happens to the mamas and their babies. The ending is a sweet one!

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Gooey Granola Bars

    I love packing Miss C.'s lunch every day.

    Yes, I'm one of those mamas. Go ahead and laugh, I don't mind!

    I may miss my sweetie every day, but I've been consoling myself by playing with the bento cuteness I've been slowly stockpiling for the last year. Cute little animal food picks. Pink bento boxes. Tiny flower cookie cutters. And those cute little silicone muffin cups shaped like animals – they slay me! Where was all this stuff when I was harboring a secret hatred for making lunches when I was a kid?

    And when she asks me (every day), "Mommy, are you going to miss me?" I give her a big squeezie hug, choke back my mama tears and whisper in her ear, "Of course I will, sweetheart! Remember, when lunchtime rolls around at school today that I've poured all my love into your lunch box."

    I'm not exaggerating when I say that, either. I love packing up her lunch each night, and I find myself thinking of things I can do to make her smile when my hungry girl opens up her snack or lunch.

    Tomorrow is a minimum day, so I only need to pack Miss C. a snack. I've been meaning to whip up a batch of Miss C.'s favorite Gooey Granola Bars for a good long while now, and with school starting it seems I have the perfect reason to dust off (and share!) this easy recipe.

    Gooey Granola Bars

    2 cups rolled oats
    1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used the natural, unsweetened kind)
    1/2 cup honey
    3/4 cup raisins

    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place your oats on a cookie sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes in your preheated oven. I don't like mine too toasty, so I only baked them for about 5 minutes.

    While the oats are toasting, heat the peanut butter and honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often. Remove from heat when the mixture is well mixed and thin enough for easy pouring and stirring.

    Combine oats, raisins and warm peanut butter mixture in a large bowl. Pour the gooey goodness into a parchment paper lined 13x9 baking dish, pressing down to desired thickness. 

    Cool slightly before devouring cutting into squares.

    The great thing about this recipe is that you can add all sorts of goodies to the mix to make your own little sweeties happy. And if you don't want them to be so gooey (or a little less sweet), simply cut down on the honey.

    Master W. and I had fun making these granola bars together while his Sissy was at school, though I suspect his favorite part was licking the spoon afterward. I can't wait to tuck one of these little squares next to the fruit and cheese in her snack box tonight!