Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Calendar Wall Hanging

This is not a tutorial by any means. . . more of a hooray! I got this project done!  Lois and I saw one of these Advent Calendar wall hangings at the Quilt Shop in Colby.  So, of course, we had to buy some panels.  We decided to make four of them--one for Lois and one for each of her children's families.  We started work on them in in October.  I took a panel with me to the Quilt Shop to pick out binding materials.  We used a different binding material for each one.  A week or so later, I got out the backing and the panels to get things ready to take them to be quilted.  I only had three!  Of course, I panicked.  I called the Quilt Shop to see if they had any more panels, and they were sold out.  I found a place online and ordered another panel.  In the meantime, I got into some of the fabric I had bought for the binding. . . guess what I found?  The panel that I had taken along to match fabrics to!  To make a long story longer, we ended up making five of these.  We gave the fifth to Matt's aunt Sarah who is one of the women who got me into quilting in the first place.  Doris Mote of Sharon Springs did the machine quilting.  We had each one quilted with a different pattern.  I did the hanging sleeves and put the binding on.  Needless to say, when you bind five wall hangings in a short amount of time, you really lock the process into your brain.  I will feel quite comfortable binding my next quilting project, should I ever do another one!  Lois ironed flannel onto the back of the figures using Heat and Bond and cut them all out.  I sewed on the buttons and hot glued loops onto the back of the figures to use for hanging on the buttons.  I got the buttons from The General Store in Sharon Springs.  She has such a great selection of buttons, and the price is so reasonable as well!   I bought half-inch dowels at Hennick's, which Matt cut to size for me and drilled holes in the end.  I put yarn through the holes, looped it back up and tied a double knot.  It was one of those projects that seemed like it wouldn't take a lot of time.  However, when you make five of them, it does take a while.  Overall, we were very happy with how they turned out.  And, best of all, they were done by Thanksgiving so are able to be used to countdown to Christmas this year.
Saturday, November 19, 2011

Flower Hair Bow

If you are looking for a fun way to use up fabric scraps, this is it.  Lyla even left it in for about 20 minutes (a record for her with a clip.)  Here is a link to how to make it:  Flower Hair Bow.  I love the Prudent Baby site.  I have found lots of cool stuff to do there.  The flower requires a small amount of hand sewing and a hot glue gun, which is my kind of project!  The blog said that it made a large flower, but mine turned out about 2 inches big when finished.  I think next time I may start with a larger circle--maybe 4 inches instead of two as per the blog instructions--to make the flower bigger.  I thought this one turned out really cute, though.
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Abby's Boots

Made these little boots for my niece's baby shower today.  You use two coordinating fabrics that have been quilted together.  I got the material from the Quilt Cabin in Colby.   Doris Mote did the quilting.  I thought they turned out really cute.  They were actually not too difficult.  Here is a link to Curby's Closet to get the pattern:  "Too Cute to Kick Off" Boots.  I made the flowers from felt.  I found an easy tutorial.  Here is the link:  Easy Felt Flowers.  They were so simple to make and looked great.  The tutorial recommended using coins to make a pattern for the flower.  I used dimes to make a small flower.  Maddie and I made a larger flower for her using quarters for the template.  We are going to make it into a hair clip for her.  I have definitely found another fun thing to make!
Saturday, October 15, 2011

Peanut Butter Brownies

So I was trying to think of something to make for church potluck tomorrow, something that I had the ingredients for and something that my son, Evan, could help me with.  My husband Matthew teases me that I always make brownies for such occasions.  My sister-in-law Stephanie teases me that I can't just make a plain brownie.  Well, I plead guilty on both counts!  Evan and I concocted these peanut butter brownies, and I think they are going to be good.

To make, start with any brownie mix for a 9 by 13 inch pan size.  Make the "cake-like" brownie recipe (add three eggs instead of two).  After your batter is mixed, add 1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips before placing in pan and baking according to package directions. 

We frosted them with peanut butter frosting--I'll include the recipe below.  That seemed a little too plain, so I melted 1/4 cup chocolate chips with 1/2 teaspoon shortening in the microwave and drizzled it over the top.  I'm hoping that the chocolate on top won't be too crunchy when we try to cut them.  Whatever the food equivalent to "curb appeal" is, though, I think these brownies have them!

Peanut Butter Frosting (From Betty Crocker)

1/3 C. Peanut Butter
3 C. powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup milk

Beat sugar gradually into peanut butter.  Add vanilla and milk and beat until smooth, using additional milk if needed.
Friday, October 14, 2011

"Manpron," an Apron for a Boy!

As I was completing aprons for my girls, I had the idea that I could make an apron for Evan.  I ran the idea by Matt, and he thought it was a good idea.  He thought, though, that we needed a different name for the item than "apron." So, here is my project--a manpron for my little guy.  Start by obtaining some measurements--length from chest to knee (or however long you want it to be), width at chest level, width a few inches above waist (where the apron will tie) and length from chest to where the apron will tie.  For my above-average height five year old, chest was 7 inches, waist 20 inches, length 22 inches, and about 8 inches for the chest to waist measurement.  I actually forgot the last measurement and ended up "winging it." This was not wise, because I had to take the apron apart at the end and take an inch off the top.  So, don't forget to get all of your measurements first!
For simplicity, I added an inch to each measurement to allow for seam allowances. You can be more exact if you like.  You will want a rectangle that is the length of your manpron and folded to equal half the width at the waist.  Make sure that the fabric is "up" if the fabric is directional. 
At the top, measure 1/2 of the chest measurement (4 inches for Evan).  Then measure down and make a mark where the waist will be.  Draw a curved line with a fabric marker from the top to the side.  I drew the line in blue, so it is a little hard to see here.  Pin the material together and cut out the shape.
This is what you will end up with.
I used a coordinating fabric for the back of the manpron so that it could be reversible.  I folded the front of the apron and then traced it onto the coordinating fabric and cut out as described previously.
Cut two 3 by 28 inch strips for the tie straps.  (I used this measurement from the pattern I used for my girls' aprons.  This could definitely be shorter.)  Cut one 2 1/2 by 21 inch strip for the neck strap.  You then need 15 inches of 1/2 inch elastic for the neck strap.  Fold the tie straps and neck strap in half lengthwise, right sides together, and iron.  Using a 1/4 inch seam, sew the side and one end of each tie strap and the side of the neck strap.  Cut corners (on the ends of the tie straps) and turn right side out; press. Now for the pocket. I wanted a large, divided pocket in the middle of the manpron. You could use any size and location that you desire. I cut an 11 by 13 inch rectangle out of each fabric.
For the pockets, fold in half, right sides together.  Using a 3/8 inch seam, sew around edge, leaving an opening to turn pocket right side out and press.  Topstitch across top of pocket.
Place pocket on front of manpron as desired.  I centered mine and placed it 6 inches from the bottom.  I drew a chalk line down the center of the pocket to divide it into two smaller pockets.  Pin in place and sew around pocket and sew dividing line.
This is what you end up with.  If you are making the manpron reversible, place pocket on the back side as well.
For the neck strap, attach a safety pin to the elastic and pull the elastic through the strap until the end of the elastic is even with the strap.  Sew the end (1/4 inch or less).  Continue to thread the elastic through the strap until it is even with the opposite end of the neck strap.  Taking care to keep a hold of the elastic, sew the other end as well.
We're almost there!  Take a look at the front and back of your apron.  If you're like me, chances are that one is slightly bigger than the other.  I found that the one that I cut second was a little bigger.  Pin your straps to the smaller of the two.  I pinned the neck strap 1 inch from the side of the manpron on the top edge.  Pin and baste the strap. Pin the tie straps 1 inch from the top on each side and baste in place.
Leave the pins in place about an inch from where you will be sewing the front and back of the apron together.  This will give you extra stability on the straps.  Tuck the ends of the straps into your pocket so they will stay out of the way.
Place the back of the manpron (the side without the straps attached) on a table, right side up.  Place the front of the manpron on top, wrong side up, and pin in place.  Sew with a 3/8 inch seam, leaving a 4 inch opening to turn the manpron right side out.  I like to back stitch several times at the opening--that way your stitching will not come loose as you pull the fabric through.
Before turning the manpron right side out, clip the corners and the curves.  To clip the curves, cut notches about an inch apart along the curved edge.  Turn right side out and press.
At this point, you could hand sew the opening or use some heat and bond to close it.  Since this item will be used by a boy, I decided to top-stitch around the periphery.  This will help to reinforce the seams.  Hooray!  Another project complete!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust

Pies, pies, pies!  I dabbled in pie-making in the past, and, frankly, decided it wasn't for me.  The pie dough recipes that required cutting butter into the flour, etc. fascinated me, but I never had much luck with them.  My pie dough would turn out too tough or just plain wasn't right. So I had resigned myself to not being a pie maker.  My Great Aunt Joyce always made the most beautiful pies, so one day I got her recipe.  What a difference!  The dough is so easy to make and so easy to work with.  And, it turns out great every time.  I guess I am a pie maker!

Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust (makes 1 two-crust pie)
3 cups flour
dash salt, optional
1 cup canola oil (only use canola!)
1/2 cup water

Heat oil and water in pan on stove top until it just comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, place flour and salt (if desired) in large bowl.  After 15 minutes, pour oil and water into flour and mix with a fork until dough comes together.  Roll out between sheets of wax paper.  For fruit pie, bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Tip:  if you are going to use this for a one-crust pie like pie such as pumpkin, place the dough in your pie pan and flute edges.  Place in the freezer for at least one hour.  This will prevent the dough from slumping when you put the filling in.

Start out with canola oil and water.  Aunt Joyce insists that it has to be canola oil.  I don't know why--but if Aunt Joyce says it, that's what I do.  You will need one cup of canola oil and one half cup water for each two crust pie that you plan to make.
Place your oil and water in a pan on the stove and heat until just boiling.  Remove from heat and let sit for fifteen minutes.  I use this time to prepare the filling for the pies.
Measure out three cups of all-purpose flour and put in a bowl.
When your fifteen minutes is up, add the oil and water mixture to the flour and mix with a fork until blended.
The dough will have the consistency of play dough.
Divide the dough in equal parts and roll out in between wax paper.
Peel the waxed paper off the top of the dough.  With the wax paper still under it, place your hand underneath and flip the dough into the pie plate.  Peel the wax paper off of the top.  Build up the edges a little.  Then remove any extra dough that you don't need.  If you end up with any cracks or holes, just patch it together and press.  That's why I love this dough!
Add filling and dot with butter.  I use about two tablespoons per pie.
Now to make it pretty!  Aunt Joyce always had these flowers stamped on her top pie crust.  When I mentioned it to her, she gave me with this pie stamp.  I love it!
Roll out your top crust.  I put three stamps on the top.  You have to press pretty hard to get the design nicely imprinted in the dough.
It should look like this.  This is the pretty side that should be on the top of the pie.  So, place the wax paper back on top, flip the dough over, and peel the wax paper off the back.
Now you are looking at the bottom of the top crust.  Place hand underneath wax paper and put the dough on top of the filling.  I never get it perfectly centered, but it looks good anyway!
Seal and flute the edges; then sprinkle with sugar.  We ended up with little too much sugar on top of one of the flowers, so it didn't show up as well when then pie was baked.  Also, you can see a small amount of liquid coming out on the left side.  I should have put a pan underneath my pie in the oven to catch drips.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown and yummy.
Then enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Looks like it was a hit!

Apron Making

I get so excited when I finish a project.  I finally got the buttons sewed onto Anna's apron yesterday.  When I found the flip flop buttons at Walmart, I was pretty excited that they would match the fabric I had already picked out.  Hopefully I can wait until Christmas to give it to her!  I got started on Maddie's yesterday as well and will post pictures when I finish it.  I love this apron, and the pattern is fairly easy (although I still end up having to redo things because I don't always read as carefuly as I should!).  You can find the pattern here: Kids Four Corner Apron,  All this sewing for my girls has made me think that my boy should get something for Christmas that I have sewn.  So, I have in mind an idea for a "manly" apron for him.  I found some really cute dinosaur fabric to use.  I'll post it, also, when I'm through.  For now, it feels good to cross another project off my list and put Anna's apron in my gift bin!
Okay, so I was all excited to get Maddie's apron done today.  I couldn't wait to come up and take a picture.  To my dismay, I noticed that when I sewed on the strap, I incorporated a twist!  I'm sure I have made this mistake before--will I ever learn?!  It will not be hard to fix, but it was still a bummer.  So, Maddie's apron will be done soon.  Since the coordinating fabric was fairly busy, I opted not to sew a button to the flaps on the top of the apron and pocket as I did Anna's.  To help the flaps to stay in place, I hand-stitched the corner of each flap to the fabric underneath.
Looks like it was a hit!

Quick Church Night Supper

The kids have AWANA on Wednesday nights.  They have to be there by 5:55, so that means I need to make supper early.  I should be starting supper by 4:30 at the minimum, but sometimes that doesn't happen.  Last night was one of those times.  What were we going to eat?  Then I had an idea taken from a recipe my mother-in-law makes.  I simply started a box of wild rice on the stove.  In the meantime, I thawed about two cups of broccoli in the microwave and a half-pound of cooked ground beef that I had frozen previously.  When the rice was finished, I threw in the broccoli, ground beef, about three quarters of a cup of cheese and heated it through. 

With some grapes on the side, I had a fast, one-pot meal.  Lois, my mother-in-law, does this with roast beef and peas.  Her roast beef has some onion seasoning on it which lends the dish some wonderful flavor.  As it was, my dish was a little bland.  We added some soy sauce, and it was a hit with the kids.   I'm thinking that using a package of beef or chicken-flavored rice instead of just the long grain and wild rice would boost the flavor as well.  You could use any combination of meat and frozen veggie that you like.  Hope this comes to mind for you when you need a meal fast!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Appliqued Hoodie Towel

Looking for a fun Christmas or birthday gift for a child?  Then try appliqued hoodie towels!  Anna, my three year old, always wants to use her little sister's hooded towels after bath time.  However, the hoods on those are made of washcloths and did not get her hair dried very well.  So I found a site that used a hand towel to make the hood.  After I had made one, I had my seven year old try it out.  It was plenty big for her, so I dedided to make one for each of my kiddos for Christmas this year.  To see how to assemble the towel, check out this link: Hooded bath towel.  You will need two bath towels and one hand towel to make two hooded towels.
I found these towels at Target. I used a solid color towel for the bath towel portion and a striped hand towel for the hood.
Cut your hand towel in half.

Center the hand towel on the bath towel with the raw edge upwards.  You will be looking at the right side of each towel.  I ended up putting the edge of the hand towel "inside" the edge of the bath towel.  Then the seam is towards the child as he or she is using it.  Sew with the bath towel up--be sure you catch the hand towel in the seam all the way across.  One tip: I found that when I centered the hand towel exactly on the bath towel and then sewed, the hood did not end up centered because the hand towel would stretch slightly.  So, I placed the hand towel about a half inch closer to the side I would start sewing on. This resulted in a reasonably well-centered hood.  I have to remind myself, too, that my kids are not inspecting their things nearly this closely, and the towel will work regardless!

 After you have sewn the first seam, fold the towel right sides together.  Pin the top edge and straight stitch across.

 Now you have made a hooded towel.  This would be a great place to stop for a quick gift.  If you want to invest some more time and energy, then let's applique this bad boy!

 I found a font that I liked and printed it out on cardstock. This is Kristen ITC, 350 font in bold.  I print it outlined (find this option in your font selection on Microsoft Word) so that I don't use so much ink.

Cut out the letters.  I found it helpful to place an "F" on the front side of each letter.  Then I am sure to keep track of which side is which.  I labeled a ziploc bag with the font used and stored the letters in there in case I want to make some more in the future.  I also drew a frog and a flower on cardstock to use above each child's name.

Apply Wonder Under to your fabric.  Trace the letter backwards (put the side with the "F" against the Wonder Under) and cut out.

Iron on to your towel.  After doing this a couple of times, I made sure to use lots of pressure and ironed for a few seconds past the maximum time.  This flattens the towel out and makes it easier to sew on.  Now you can choose how you want to applique this on.  I found one site the recommended a straight stitch about an eighth of an inch inside the fabric.  The fabric sticking out then frays with use.  Looking back, this would have been a much faster way to do it.  I liked the look of a zig-zag stitch.  Also, I had chosen some fabrics that were much the same color as my towels, and I needed the contrasting color of the thread to help the letters stand out.  (More on that later!)

Stitch around your letters and any other design you would like to add.  I used a zig-zag stitch with a .1 stitch length.  To be honest, it took me a lot more time than I thought it would.  After doing several, I am getting a bit faster.  I am glad that I have two children with just four letters in their names, however!  If I were to do it again, I would pick a bigger, fatter letter with less of those little jutty-out things like you see on the top and bottom of the "E."  It was hard to get around those and still have them look good.  Slow and gentle curves are much easier!  I do like this font, though!

Here is Lyla's.  The material that I used to make the letters was very similar to the color of the towel itself.  This made it hard to see the edge as I was going around curves.  If I had a contrasting material, I could use a thread that matched the material.  Then my sewing mistakes might be a little less noticible.   And whatever possessed me to do "Annabelle" instead of "Anna"?!  I will post her towel picture when it is done.  I ran out of thread!  If you decide to zig zag, be sure you have plenty of thread if you are doing a nine letter name!  All in all, I have been having lots of fun with this project.  I hope you do, too!

And here it is--the nine-letter name!  I had finished the letters and had about a petal and a half to go on the flower when my bobbin thread ran out.  I had a small amount of thread on the spool, definitely not enough to get more on the bobbin.  I looked everywhere to find more of the right color thread and struck out!  Finally, I had a brainstorm.  It was not important to have the bobbin thread match exactly!  So I loaded some similar-color pink into the bobbin and was able to just finish the flower with my thread.  Then I used a different colored thread to do the middle of the flower.  Another project in the gift bin--hooray!

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