Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jackson's Timberframe Block

The Central Park fabric I'm using for Jackson's quilt has the cutest little squirrels and turtles on it - all of about 1 1/2'' square. I wanted to feature these little creatures in a block I saw on the Oh Frannson blog last week. The little squirrel even has little acorns - so cute!
I've included the full instructions here for the 10'' finished block, but her are some photos to walk you through the steps. I changed up the color of each block based on my color scheme, but kept the turquoise and dotted fabric consistent in each block. The construction is log cabin-ish, building your way around the center square.
Here are the blocks waiting for their Lincoln logs - the turtles and squirrels.
The sides of the timberframe construction are done first - sewing them to the bock as a pre-fab unit.
When it comes to adding the top and bottom Lincoln log units you need to be careful to match your seams correctly!
All matched up and ready to sew!
Failure to match your seams correctly results in this - not good!
Here's a finished block - so cute!
I even fussy cut the corner squares to run the lines on the fabric diagonally.
Remember - you can get the instructions for the blocks in Jackson's quilt here!

Just a side note - I come from a very large family and brag about it, but yesterday we lost someone very special to us, my nephew Greg. It is with a heavy heart that I'm posting today's blog.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Read to Me Mama Block

Today's block for Jackson's quilt is called Read to Me Mama - certainly not a new block by any means - this is one that has stood the test of time. For me it represents the stack of books that my kids would want to read before going to sleep.
This block just can't get easier - get started by cutting 1 1/2'' strips of fabric. I kept the background solid in all of the blocks and then mixed in my dots for some of the book bindings. The finished block measures 10 1/2'' square.
You can arrange your blocks how ever you like, and you can make your book bindings any size you like. I used book bindings measuring 2, 4, 6, and 8 inches in length. You will need a total of 10 book bindings per block with their corresponding background fabric. This diagram is about as technical as it gets.
Cutting Specifics - cut 10 book binding sets
For a 2'' book binding cut to 2 1/2''; cut 2 background pieces to 4 1/2''
For a 4'' book binding cut to 4 1/2''; cut 2 background pieces to 3 1/2''
For a 6'' book binding cut to 6 1/2''; cut 2 background pieces to 2 1/2''
For an 8'' book binding cut to 8 1/2''; cut 2 background pieces to 1 1/2''

Here are my fabric sets per block all ready for sewing. Take time to plan out your arrangement - be careful not to place two of the same fabrics next to each other in the block.Here's one block staged next to my sewing machine - all of my bindings are matched up with their respective background fabric.
Here are my blocks, all stitched up - I like the look of this arrangement.
And here's the finished block - woops - a different color background from the sample! I made a total of four Read to Me Mama blocks, each with a different background color and a different arrangement of book bindings.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jackson's Quilt - Join Me!

This week I'll be sharing the instructions for a quilt I'm making for my nephew, Jackson. It all started with this fun fabric - Central Park by Kate Spain for Moda - I just love the variety of creatures, everything from acorn nibbling squirrels and tiny turtles to elephants and giraffes. As usual when I purchased the fabric I really didn't know quite what I was going to do with it.
There were a number of companion fabrics, but the only one that came home with me was this great lined olive-y green.
I added some dots and a woven-look fabric to make it interesting - but I didn't want them to take over.
I wanted to add punch to the already great colors on the animal print - solids. To make easy work of capturing the teal-y blues I though I'd give this panel a try - Nuance from P&B Textiles - 6 solid colors on one width of fabric - perfect!
I added a few more solids to the mix so I'd have a number of options at my disposal.
Here's the start to Jackson's quilt - 4 blocks, each measuring 10'' square finished. The plan - make 4 sets of the four different blocks, stitch them together and then finish it off with an interesting border. I'm going to switch up the colors in each of the quadrants, keeping certain aspects of every block consistent to tie them together visually. I just love the colors. Take a closer look at each block - - -
This is my Read to Me Mama block - a stack of books!
This block was inspired by a block I saw last week at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. I loved the basic design and knew it would be perfect to join this quartet of blocks - this is the only block that is exactly the same in each foursome. I call this block Daddy's Tie - - - why???
Well, because it looks like a tie - I assure you my tie restrained husband would have never worn this tie.
This block was inspired by a quilt top I saw at Oh Fransson last week - it's my Timberframe block - I'm planning on stitching the frame section in a faux bois pattern. The dark taupe fabric used for the frame is consistent in every block. The center features a squirrel or turtle.
And last, but not least, my Squared Rectangle block - features a guest from the menagerie, and is highlighted by a marquis of dotted fabric. This is the block I am featuring today - instructions included!
I started prepping my fabric this weekend for a sew-a-thon today.
Here is the fabric for my Squared Rectangles all set to go.
These blocks go together quickly - the directions instruct you to sew the vertical sides on first, and then add the horizontal strips of fabric.
Chain piecing will really let you breeze through the construction of the blocks.
When you chain piece always keep you needle in the down position.
Why??? It keeps the feed dogs down, and the down position of the needle prevents the sewn fabric from shifting forward.
The addition of the dotted fabric is consistent for every block - it really adds a marquis-like appearance to the block.
Want the instructions for the Squared Rectangle block - click here! Tomorrow - Read to Me Mama block instructions.

Colette Patterns' Fabric Series - Don't Miss It!

I'm an ardent followers of Colette Patterns' blog. For the past few weeks I have been following their Fabric Series - a review of different fabric types - what they are structurally and what they are best used of in terms of sewing, and how to handle them.

Today the blog features quilting cottons - check it out - and take the time to read the comments - they are as informative as the post.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cooking Light Trifecta!

Down to business in the diet department - a long winter and not much exercise has done damage - bikini season is right around the corner - - - hahahaha - - - there once was a day, three sizes away, thin thighs, flat tummy, no one to call me mummy!!!

Nevertheless, time to get serious - after all, I am a dietitian - I need to get into dietitian shape. This past week I made three fantastic recipes from the April issue of Cooking Light - this was tonight's dinner - Mediterranean Barley with Chickpeas and Arugula - vegetarian, delicious - I used farro in place of the barley - 360 satisfying calories per serving.
I also made the Scallops with Spinach and Paprika Syrup - amazing - so easy, and only 313 calories per serving! This is now one of my all time favorite recipes for scallops - dinner guests will be raving!

And lastly, Chicken and White Bean Soup - such an rich and flavorful soup at 335 calories per serving - perfect for lunch or dinner. Tomorrow night I'm trying the Thai Chicken Salad - it sounds great.

I've got a lot planned for the blog this week - I'm going to feature a block a day Monday - Thursday highlighting the four blocks I'm using in my nephew's quilt - it is so cute!

Then all of the calories I've saved this week eating light will be consumed in one massive feast Saturday night - - - a blow out dinner party - Mexican themed - - - I'm making GOAT - that's right, goat birrya, along with 5 other courses - - - it's gonna make your mouth water!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Blown Away!

If you're like me, the quest for interesting blogs to inspire my creativity has become an obsessive pastime. Well, this morning I hit the mother load, the piece de resistance, the cat's meow, the veritable icing on the cake - I found Elsa Mora - artist extraordinaire!!!

This is one of those links where you need to make yourself a cup of tea, or pour yourself a glass of wine, find a comfy chair, turn off the electronics, and indulge - - - it is pure beauty, beginning middle and end! And, there is so much to see!

I was lured to her site by some images of her paper cutting pieces - Scherenschnitte as I call it. Here is one example - the detail is amazing!

But her paper cutting only scratches the surface to her creativity. Her website contains galleries of her artworks, drawings, dollhouses, jewelery, flowers, porcelain, paintings and dolls.

And, if that is not enough to just blow you away, she maintains four blogs in addition to her primary blog - one on paper cutting, one on handmade dolls, another on miniature books, and lastly one on her personal style - - - bottle that "personal style" and it would sell for top dollar!
How anyone can keep up with 5 blogs and create at her level astonishes me! I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Do not skip her personal story - it is so captivating - a true story of inspiration! Hope you enjoy - have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stitch Assist

My little birdie project has lots of hand stitching, especially for a baby quilt - something I don't normally do. My inspiration came from my visit to Boston a few weeks ago to hang out with my daughter Meredith, a student at BU. We visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts - it's just undergone a massive renovation / expansion and has an entire building dedicated to American Art. They had a beautiful collection of American samplers - I am forever fascinated that pre-adolescent / adolescent girls created these works of art - they are magnificent. Don't you just love the fig leaves protecting Adam and Eve? And the stitches are perfect!
Time to practice m stitching, and the birdie quilt provided the perfect canvas for embellishment. When I got home I pulled out my handy-dandy Pocket Guide for Crazy Quilt Stitches - - - I've had this for forever.
It's great - a laminated fold out reference for commonly used stitches. I decided to practice the fern stitch and stem stitch on the birdie. I had already appliqued the birdies in place and finished their edge with a blanket stitch.
My friend Jackie gave me this Fons and Porter Marking Pencil - she told me I'd love it - - - she, as always was right! This pencil is great. It makes a thin chalky line that stays put until you scratch it off. It was perfect for marking where I wanted to create my embroidery lines on the birdie.
See - - -

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here's My Eye!!!

Now my birdie can see what's going on - - - she's got a eye, complete with lashes. As for that wide open beak - - - well, something's gotta come out of there - - -

A song will be perfect - all I need are some notes!
I added fern stitch embroidery to the wing with the hand-dyed silk floss.
The tail feathers are accented with fern stitch, blanket stitch and stem stitch.
A close up of my dancing feet.
Here's one of my girls - she's got two other friends to keep her company on the quilt top. Soon time to put it all together!!! I'm toying with writing up a pattern - - - it's so quick and easy - and it gives just enough hand work to keep you busy during American Idol. I'd like to give C&T's Pattern Spot a try and this would be the perfect pattern to list.
Its been a rainy day here - perfect day to bake a loaf of bread. I'm using whole rye flour and a sprouted wheat flour. I purchased the rye flour at my local growers' market from Sunrise Flour Mill - it is made in Minneapolis, but their daughter is local.
I used the Rye Pumpernickel Bread recipe from Sunrise Flour Mill - it calls for cocoa and strong coffee to impart a special flavor and add to the rich color. I used honey in place of the sorghum syrup. And, since I was experimenting with the sprouted wheat flour, I decided to add some vital wheat gluten to enhance the structure of the gluten development.
Ahhh - the house smells great - - - nothing like baking bread!!! Beautiful!!!
O.K. - - - an air pocket or two adds to the beauty of the loaf - it is delicious!