Sunday, August 31, 2008

Swappin' Fun

Marissa found this group on called "Color Me Happy Swaparooni." It is an online swap group where you are assigned a swap buddy and exchange a gift for whatever theme the group has selected that month.
Last month was the Creature Comforts and Leisure, pillowcase and and book swap. It was so much fun. My swap buddy was Paulette, from Tennessee. I really enjoyed getting to know more about her. She works with her husband on their farm raising natural foods and homeschools her 3 beautiful girls. Her blog Capturing Today is so interesting. She sent me a cute embroidered pillowcase with my name on it and a great historical novel, with a pretty handmade beaded bookmark.

So Mark totally doesn't get it why someone would go online and sign up to send gifts to a perfect stranger for absolutely no reason. I guess if you put it that way it does sound a bit strange.
I tried to explain it to him this way.
Me: You know how we have been married for 30 years and every birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or Valentines you don't have a clue what to give me or what I would like?
Him: Yeah...
Me: So I can go on the internet and make a list of my basic likes and dislikes. I like red, orange, summertime, cottage style, etc. And a perfect stranger will send me a wonderful surprise in the mail. And I get something that I love and I don't have to tell her what to buy or go buy it myself.
Him: I don't get it.
Me: It's a girl thing.
Him: OK, whatever.
This month is the Local and Fair Trade Swap. I am not having so much luck on that one. But I still have a few days, so will hopefully pull it together by the deadline.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oh, It Can't Be The End

Can it really be Labor Day weekend already? That means the end of summer doesn't it? How sad. And yet, there is something about fall that just never fails to stir some anticipation of crisp sunny days, delicious meals loaded with fall veggies, and slowing down the pace of life a bit. (The start of a new football season with delusions that the Broncos might have a winning season is always adds an interesting element too.)

I read one time that most people actually think of Autumn as the real "new year" since the traditional school year begins and we started a new grade with new teachers, and most importantly, new school supplies and "school clothes." Of course it was always too hot on the first day of school to wear your favorite new fall outfit. What a disappointment!

Now the summer break is so short and the kids in our area are back in school in early August, so I wonder if they will have the same association with Autumn that the older generations do.

I have even started collecting some gorgeous new fabrics for Christmas runners and candle mats to make. Some for gifts and some for sale. I have so many projects lined up, you would think I could stay out of the fabric stores and stay home and sew and get some new kits ready to list. That is my plan at least.

Here is a fall table runner I made for my mom last year.
I really love that Alexander Henry fabric in the center. Unfortunately I only bought a yard of it and when I went back to buy more it was gone.
I have seen a few new Moda prints that I have my eye on, we'll see how long I can hold out without buying anything new.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My peach jam!

I did all my peach canning a few days after we got back from Pallisade.
I ended up with 3 batches of jam, one batch of peach and sweet cherry pie filling, and one batch of peach salsa.

The Peach and Cherry Cobbler filling will make a nice gift basket for Christmas this year!

My peach salsa recipe called for 4 jalapeno peppers, but I thought it could have used a little more heat for my taste. Maybe it will develop a little more spice after it was processed. I am planning to pop open a jar next time I have a little party.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Make A Charm Pack Raggy Quilt Purse -Here's How

These little rag quilt bags are fun to make and actually very simple. For this one I used a Moda Charm Pack and about 2/3 yard of coordinating fabric for lining and pockets. What you actually will need is: 25 5" charm squares, 25 5" lining squares, 19 4" Warm n' Natural batting squares and about a 2" X 10" scrap for the button loop. This makes a finished bag that is approx. 12"X8" with a 4" gusset (that is the depth part.)

Here is my charm pack, it is called "Portugal"

Next I cut 25 5" squares from the coordinating fabric for the lining.

The 19 batting squares will be cut to 4".

Here are all the materials ready to go.

Now you make the 3 layer "quilt sandwich" by laying the top face down, the batting square is centered on the top, then lay the backing square face up.

Make 19 sandwiches, set the other squares aside for now.

If you have any doubts about your ability to sew a straight line you may want to mark an X on the back of your sandwiches.

Do this using a fabric marking pencil or a water soluble marker.

You might try stitching a few Xs and see how accurate you are, these do not have to be perfect so if you get them pretty close you can go ahead and skip this step.

The quickest way to sew the Xs is to chain stitch the squares. Stitch from corner to corner in each direction.

Here is a nice pile of finished squares. Clip them apart.

Lay out your front, back, two sides (gusset) and the bottom. I chose to alternate light and dark squares, but since this is a charm pack you can just lay them out randomly and they will look great I am sure.

Yes, that is my real sewing machine. I call her The Beast.

Now using a 1/2" seam allowance for all seams,
stitch the 3 rows of the front and back together. Stitch top and bottom squares to make the 3 rows for each side.

Be sure to stitch the squares WRONG SIDES TOGETHER so the seam will be exposed on the outside of the bag.

Make 3 pockets from the 6 left over lining squares. Stitch across the top, Right Sides Together, press the seam and topstitch on the outside. Lay two pockets down on row 1 of front of bag. Lay row 2 on top of row 1. Stitch from top to bottom.

Repeat this step, adding row 3.

For back of bag stitch the 3 rows together with seam exposed, of course.

Stitch the bottom 3 squares together now too.

Stitch the front to the bottom, starting at the the intersection of the X and the 1/2" seam allowance. Stitch across the bottom of the bag leaving 1/2" open on each end.

Stitch the back side to the bottom in the same manner.

Now you will have something resembling a little mini quilt. The top two rows are the front, the middle row is the bottom and the last two rows are the back.

Stitch the two squares for each side together too.

Lay the side piece on top of the front of bag and stitch from top to 1/2" from the bottom. This will be at the intersection of the X. Now stitch the back and side together from top to bottom, leaving 1/2" seam allowance open.

NOTE: Take care that you align the edges of the pockets with the front and side before stitching.

Repeat this for the other side.

This is what the side will look like when stitched.

Now pin the bottom and side together.

Stitch the side panel across the bottom between the X intersection. I usually backstitch a couple times to make sure the corner is nice and tight.

The body of the bag is done and ready for the finishing touches! WHEW!

That wasn't really so hard was it?

Here is and inside view of the bag and the 3 handy little pockets.

Take the remaining 6 squares and stitch them together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seams to one side.

Cut the strip in half to make two 2 1/2" strips.

Cut a strip of batting 1 1/2" wide X approx 28" long. Center the batting on one strip and then pin the other strip in place on top.

Stitch the strap together with a 1/2" seam allowance. Stitch again 1/4" inside the first row of stitching.

I like to clip the strap before attaching it to the bag. Using a sharp scissors or spring type snipper, clip the edges every 1/4" to just outside of the stitching line. Do this on both sides of the strap.

Pin the strap in between the layers on each end of the bag taking care to center them.

Make a button loop with a 2" X 10" scrap of lining fabric. Fold in half wrong sides together and stitch, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn with a safety pin. Topstitch close to edges. Fold in half and lay flat to form a point. Stitch across the upper edge of point. Pin in place between layers of back center of bag.

Stitch around the top of bag 1/2" from edge. Stitch again 1/4" outside first row of stitching.

Clip all exposed seams, taking care not to clip into your stitching lines. Clip 1/2" - 1/4" apart. The smaller your clips the fluffier your "chenille bloom" will be.

Run your raggy bag through a gentle rinse cycle in the washing machine. Dry on low heat. I add a sweatshirt or a couple of towels to the dryer to help it dry faster and come out nice and fluffy.

Add a button to the front. I used a covered button on this one. Vintage buttons or a large decorative button are also a nice finishing touch. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This is harder than I thought, but...

I spent the day doing something that was not actually what I should have been doing, which is working on orders and listing items in my store. But it was so peaceful and such a beautiful day I decided to play around with a Moda Charm Pack I picked up a few weeks ago and made this really cute raggy quilted purse.

It turned out great and I thought it might make a fun tutorial to post. And good practice for me to work on my photo editing and blogging. I got all the photos ready to post and am actually feeling pretty pleased with myself, but way too tired now to start posting them and writing and editing the instructions. Anyway, if you have a charm pack of some fabrics you love laying around, and would like to learn how to make a cute rag quilt purse, I promise I will get the instructions posted this week. It is a fun way to use charm packs and it is not too early to start thinking of handmade holiday gifts.

I was considering doing the whole tutorial in photobucket. But this is the kind of thing that makes me crazy, I uploaded and labeled half of the pics and then I discovered that they are in reverse order! Now my technically challenged brain could not figure out a way to get them in order. So I finally tried the slideshow view and found a reverse button on there and found that I could copy the link for that. So here is a preview of the charm pack raggy purse tutorial if you want a sneak peek. Will finish it tomorrow I hope. But, oh yeah, I need to get those orders ready to ship before I can have any more fun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Palisade Colorado

Sign on the door at Carlson Vineyards, Palisade Colorado

Our trip to Palisade was so nice. I guess I have been stuck home on the front range for too long, and forgot how beautiful and scenic Colorado is. We really enjoyed driving around the rural areas and the peach orchards were just amazing. The harvest is in full swing and they are picking the peaches and loading them into the fruit stands and onto trucks round the clock.

At the Palisade Sunday farmer's market I met the nicest couple, they own the SunCrest Orchard Alpaca ranch. I was fascinated by the alpaca fiber and and the needle felting. She was selling soaps that were wrapped in alpaca felt that was dyed and scented. They said that they are in the process of setting up a mill and will begin milling alpaca yarn on their ranch next year. The thing I liked the most about their products was their labels that featured a picture of the individual alpaca that contributed the fur for the product. Very cute characters. The birthing journal on their website is really neat.

After the farmer's market we set off to do a little wine tasting. I am not sure how many wineries there are in the vicinity, but it is quite a bit more than you could taste in one day. We were lucky to take a wrong turn and found the Carlson Vineyards a few miles off our path.

The tasting room is in this rustic looking building and was just a fun laid back atmosphere. The wines were all quite good and the highlight of the tasting was the "2 second dessert" recipe.

First you melt some good chocolate, they used Enstrom's, then you dip the rim of the wine glass in the chocolate. Pour the Carlson Cherry Wine in the glass and be sure to pass the napkins around. It was sooo good. Of course I had to bring home a bottle of the cherry wine for our next dinner party.

RQQ Grand Champion Rag Quilt

Trish also won a Blue Ribbon for her beautiful sampler quilt at her local county fair. Way to go Trish! She listed it on ebay this week and has got a bid already too!

Here is a link to her listing, she has lots of pics and I hope you will check it out. Maybe some day I will get ambitious enough to tackle a big project like this. It looks like so much fun.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Planning a Peachy Weekend!

The first round of voting ended with some ties. I was tied with Joey in the purse and baby quilt categories and took second place in the runoffs. Yaaay! I took first place in the large market tote category! I might get the items listed for the Customer Appreciation Sale, but I haven't got that border ripped off yet to redo the baby quilt and we are going out of town for the weekend.

We are planning a trip to Grand Junction and Palisade on the Western Slope to do some peach picking and maybe visit a winery. The word it that they have a bumper crop of peaches and with perfect weather conditions this spring they are supposed to be juicier than ever. I am planning on trying my hand at a little canning again this year and can't wait to put up some peach preserves and jams. Yummmm! Better stock up on peanut butter at Sams Club. I hope I get enough to last a little longer this year. Cassidy was very sad when we ran out of Doni Jelly and so was Mark.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Introducing The Pinky Dolls

My friend Diane brought me some of her Pinky Dolls to list on etsy and ebay for her. They are so unique and just adorable. The original pattern for the little sock doll came from her aunt and her mom, Pinky, who made them for all the granddaughters and their friends in the 70s and 80s. I remember that Marissa had a little lavender one and a peach one that she got for her birthday. When Pinky passed away Diane found that her mom had left all the detailed instructions for her in a little sewing box that she had given her one year.
She has so many cute ones, I am not sure which is my favorite. You can check them out in my album. I am pretty partial to Violet, but I am not sure that is her real name. I just made that up when I was uploading the pics.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

RQQ Voting Has Begun

The voting for the RQQ County Fair started on Thursday and I have been watching the polls to see who is going to win. One of the entries, by Trish, is a full size sampler quilt done in rag quilt style, it is just sooo cozy looking and the work is beautiful. I am pretty sure she will win the Grand Champion award, nothing else comes close. Hopefully she will let me snag some pictures of it to post here. She is not going to put it up for auction yet because she is entering it in her hometown County Fair next week.

I wanted to make something new and different this weekend but ran into a creative block when I pulled out my fabrics and tried to get something started. I was thinking of a new bag from the Moda Daydreams Collection, but couldn't decide on raggy, hobo style or tote bag. So I set that aside. Then I cast my eye on an Alexander Henry children's print called Oasabi. It is an adorable print with Chinese children playing on a red background and I have been wanting to make a baby quilt or diaper bag from it for some time. I started on the baby quilt and then decided I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. So ended up with some silly 9 patch and pinwheel blocks in honeydew and a red A Henry print with Chinese characters. Chinese pinwheels? Set that aside too. But I was happy with the blocks because I figured out the measurements for the triangles for an 8" block all by myself and they turned out perfect. So those go into a zip loc bag into the drawer full of zip loc bags of UFO's . I am sure someone has something even stranger than that in their drawer full of misfit blocks. Maybe it would be fun to do an ugly block swap some day and see what kind of quilt comes out of it. Hmmm. Might have to think more on that.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Bit of Excitement!

Well I did manage to make the deadline and get a few entries in for the RQQ (Rag Queen Quilters) virtual County Fair. Rag Queen Quilters is a really great group of ebay sellers. Theresa is one of the mods and came up with the idea for the County Fair and it did stir up some excitement I think. After the judging we will be listing our items for the monthly customer appreciation sale. If you search ebay for *RQQ* you will find the special sale items.

My first entry was this huge Weekender Market Bag in a great diamond batik print. I had a lot of fun designing this.

The grandmother's fan Rag Quilt Purse was something new and fun. I bought a little dresden plate ruler at the Denver quilt show a few weeks ago and made a pillow case with the fan border for my swap partner in the Color Me Happy Swaparooni. The ruler is really neat, you just pick the size of your fan blades and then flip it back and forth to cut perfect little blades with no waste at all. I am not really a shabby chic or Victorian kind of girl, but I thought the theme of this was kind of pretty. I finished it with a vintage button from my mother in law's collection.

The baby quilt is my attempt at a scrappy nine patch, done with mostly Moda Apron Strings prints and in Rag Quilt style. I was not too happy with it. I put a chenille border on it, but don't like it because it came out too small. I will get around to ripping off the border and fix it sometime soon.
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