About Me

My photo
Sewing and cooking are two of my favorite things. In the past, I often found myself searching for pictures and details of projects I have done, without success. So I decided to start documenting my creations. Then my son suggested I add my recipes to the blog so that they are documented also.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sewing the last few weeks....

Well I have been busy sewing gifts for Christmas so I have not posted for awhile.  Obviously those gifts cannot be posted until after Christmas lest someone figure out what is for whom.  But I have made a few baby gifts that turned out so well.  Once again I made my favorite item, the baby bunting as posted previously the baby bunting.  Since it was for a winter baby, the inside is flannel but the outside a warmer cuddly fabric.

I made a baby quilt, Sunday Best, that has appliqued dresses, and it is a pattern that I have fallen in love with.  Who could resist this quilt?  The fabric had the characters of Beatrix Potter on it so I also made the Flopsy Bunny cloth book to go with it.

And I added a few more of my favorite items, the binky bib and some personalized burp cloths.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Basting a Quilt with a Microstitch Gun

In the past I have made quilts using the 'quilt as you go' method and thus never had the issue of how to hold the quilt top, batting and backing together while quilting the item.  But I have started to quilt the conventional way of piecing the top first and then quilting the backing and batting after it has been sandwiched.  In my first item the  Pumpkin Runner I used adhesive spray to hold the layers together and then free motion quilted it without any problems. However I next had a twin size quilt and a long runner to quilt and did not think that the spray basting was a good solution.  I knew I was not going to hand baste them and really did not think I wanted to pin baste either.  So I started asking other quilters what they do and an employee at my local quilt shop suggested gun basting.  I bought the Microstitch gun shown above on Amazon.com for around $20 and it came with 1200 plastic tacks.

The premise of the gun is that you place the needle through all layers, squeeze the handle and it puts a plastic tack in the hole that holds the pieces together.  One has to hold the item off the surface so that the tack can have space to go through the 3 layers.  Thus you have to hold the bottom layer up with your hand but this could have the potential of sticking your fingers with the needle and tack.  So my hubby had a 2' X 4' ceiling light grid that I employed to keep my quilt up off the surface of my rotary mat. First I laid my mat on my cutting table and then hung the center of my runner over the center of the table with the sides hanging over.  This allowed me to smooth all layers; backing right side down, batting and top right side up.

Once my runner was sandwiched and stretched I slipped the lighting grid on top of the rotary mat and under the runner layers.  I then smoothed out all the layers again. As you can see below, this allows the item to be easily stretched over the grid.
Now I could easily place the needle of the gun into the sandwich through a hole of the grid, allowing the tack to be placed appropriately without having the needle hit the mat below.  I placed my tacks about 3-4 inches apart and approximated the distance by laying my hand flat next to the tack that had been placed.
I used about 720 tacks for a twin sized quilt (about $3 worth) and 150 tacks for the runner shown above.  The tacks hold the quilt together well and I was able to free motion quilt without having the layers shift. Also I was able to sew right over the tacks without any problems. After my quilting was done, I sewed my binding on and then easily snipped the tacks from the backing side. It took about 1 and 1/2 hours to tack baste the twin quilt and 20 minutes to do the runner.  It took about the same time to remove the tacks. 
Thus far, I am a fan of gun basting a quilt.  I plan to use this method for any new quilting projects.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Easy Apple Bundles

I have recently seen recipes for appletarts made from strips of pie dough or crescent rolls so here is my variation.  These make up in minutes and bake for 13 minutes; you can eat them warm or reheat for 10 seconds in the microwave.

You need:
1 tube of crescent rolls
1/2  stick of butter, melted
1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
Mixture of 1 tsp cinammon and 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  If using a convection oven, I use 365 degrees. So first I mix 1 teaspoon of cinammon and 1/4 cup of sugar in a small bowl.  If you use a smaller bowl it is easier to roll the bundle and not chase the sugar mixture around a large plate.  Next melt the butter in a microwave safe dish. I roughly peel the apple and then I use an apple wedge tool that cores and cuts the wedges all at the same time. Now I am ready to open the crescent roll tube.  Take each
triangle and lay a wedge on the wide end and then roll it up. 
Now take the bundle and roll it in the melted butter and next dip lightly in the sugar/cinammon mixture. I have successfully used Splenda Baking Mix in place of sugar. Place the bundles on a cookie sheet; I always use parchment paper because the sugar tends to carmelize and over brown when placed on the sheet directly. 


Place the apple bundles in the preheated oven and bake for 13 minutes.  Serve warm or reheat in microwave for 10 seconds when ready to serve.  Great when served with with vanilla bean ice cream!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

One More Block To Go........

So I have been working on the blocks for this Christmas quilt since March.  It is the pattern Merry Merry Snowmen from Bunny Hill Designs.  I have just one more block to do.  Then I can sew the blocks together and free motion quilt it.  Each block has the design appliqued on it and then adorned with buttons and/or embroidery. I hope to be finished with it by mid November so I can display it on a quilt rack for the Holidays.

Baby Isabelle in Her Bunting

So often we make gifts and know they are appreciated but never see them being used.  One of my favorite baby items to make are buntings to swaddle the child in.  Earlier I blogged about this gift http://juliannasjourney.blogspot.com/2012/06/gifts-for-baby-shower.html and just received a pic of baby Isabelle in her bunting.  Isn't she just beautiful and doesn't she look comfy!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Free Motion Quilted Pumpkin Runner

As I referred to in an earlier post, http://juliannasjourney.blogspot.com/2012/08/pumpkin-runner.html, I have been practicing free motion quilting and am really getting better at it.  I want to FMQ 2 quilts by Christmas so I need to get better at it.  With this in mind, I quilted the Pumpkin Runner shown above.  I used different patterns on the background, pumpkins and border.  Hopefully you can see my designs in the following pics.  The different patterns really added alot of dimension to the runner.
I did a circular design in the center of the pumpkins and a 2 way design between them.  On the right I used a graded long parallel stitch which looks great on it, although it is hard to see in the picture.
On the border I used a paisley design that I saw on Leah Day's site  Paisley  and it did come out fairly well for my first try.
A few things that have helped me with FMQ are Little Genie Magic Bobbin Washers http://www.daystyledesigns.com/magicgeniewashers.htm, the teflon oven liner http://juliannasjourney.blogspot.com/2012/09/fmq-and-teflon-slider.html that I made a slider out of for my machine and quilting gloves.  Along with these items, I have practiced FMQ for 15 minutes a day for weeks.  But I must say what finally made it click was a comment that I read, unsure of where I read it, that compared drawing with a pencil; when you draw you move the pencil around the paper but when you free motion quilt, you move the fabric around the needle.  For whatever reason, this radically changed how I envisioned the patterns and I have become better at FMQ.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

FMQ and Teflon Slider

I am practicing free motion quilting and I read that one can make a substitute for the Supreme Slider (which is way too pricey for me) by using a teflon oven liner.  I found a teflon liner at an outlet store and cut a hole for the needle with an exacto knife.  Then I placed it on my extension table and used blue painter's tape to hold it in place.  It definitely makes the quilt sandwich easier to move around.  I will be using it to FMQ a Fall Runner later this week so I will display the results.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tomato Basil Gratin

My tomatoes are in full bloom so last night I made Tomato Basil Gratin as a side dish.  My daughter had this over the weekend made by her boyfriend's mother.  Since my daughter eats very little meat, we are always on the lookout for vegetable dishes.  This one is from David Venable on QVC.  I substituted whole wheat bread crumbs which gave it a little more of a nutty taste.

Tomato-Basil Gratin

6 tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded
2 Tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, parmesan, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

In a 3-qt casserole or baking dish, cover the bottom with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/3 of the bread crumb mixture over the tomatoes. Repeat twice, using all the remaining ingredients.

Drizzle olive oil over the top and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese has browned.

Pumpkin Runner

I got together with several friends and started a monthly sewing club.  Our first project is the pumpkin runner shown above Pumpkin Runner from Hoffman Fabrics.  It was intended to be made of batiks but we each went through our fabric stash to come up with our designs.  We were able to get most of the front constructed in our first session.  Next we will add the backing and batting and at the next session we will free motion quilt our runner.  The directions for this runner are vague for beginners but we figured it out.  The term 'snowballing' was new to us and so I found a tutorial on how to snowball http://quilting.about.com/od/quiltpatternsprojects/ss/snowbal_economy_4.htm which clearly explained it. The last part of constructing the runner was the mitered corners which proved to be the most difficult part but again, we figured it out.

Now we are all beginners at free motion quilting and it is truly an art in itself. There are many helpful videos on the Internet but the most comprehensive source is The Free Motion Quilting Project by Leah Day http://www.freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/.  FMQ takes hours of practice but I am quite intrigued by the beautiful results I see posted everywhere on the Internet so it has become an obsession to me to master it. 

So look forward to the posting of my finished product in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Puzzle Bouse

I have recently become intrigued with a pattern for a Puzzle Blouse that I found in the book Simple Serger Sewing by Julie Johnson.  You can also find a variation of it by Suzy Seed on the Alice's House blog.  Basically it is a square piece of fabric that gets 3 serged seams and serged edges on the hemline, armholes and neckline. The finished blouse is on the bias. When I made my first one, the tangerine shown below, I realized that it makes a great bathing suit cover-up. So I proceeded to make a few for friends. The ones I like best are made of silky prints from Joann fabrics; they hang quite nicely.  The key to the size is making the square either your hip measurement or high bust measurement, whichever is greater. However, a 38 inch square makes a nice cover up for most sizes.  If you use the pattern for a blouse, you have to shorten it appropriately.

After you make the first one, it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.  On the first one, it is truly puzzling to figure out how to make this serged blouse.  I actually do a rolled hem on the armholes, neckline and hemline.  The pink one is made from a soft cotton and instead of using a rolled hem stitch, I just serged around the openings. What I have learned is that I need alot more practice serging curves and probably need to take a serger class.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Zucchini and Potato Casserole

As I looked at the garden today, I saw that I had a zucchini and many small tomatoes.  I was having breaded Parmesan chicken with a salad and knew I needed a carb side dish.  Many times I have made a gratin by layering whatever vegetables I had on hand, so I proceeded to cube the zucchini into 1/2 pieces, cut the small tomatoes in half and sliced the potatoes in 1/2 inch slices.  I sprayed an 8x8 casserole dish with olive oil spray, threw in the zucchini cubes followed by the tomatoes.  I layered the potatoes ontop and seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with 2 tablespoons of margarine.  I popped it into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  By this time it was starting to bubble but I saw that it had produced a little more liquid than I liked.  So I stirred in a tablespoon of Acini De Pepe and figured it would soak up the extra liquid from the vegetables. I baked for 15 minutes more and then topped with some shredded Parmesan cheese.  I let this cheese bake for a few minutes and my casserole was just the right consistency.  In addition, the little pasta beads had soaked up the additional liquid and were just yummy.  The vegetables were glazed with a delicious sauce rather than sitting in liquid.  This is so easy to make and bakes while you prepare the rest of your meal.  Experiment with various vegetables and different cheeses.  I am even thinking of layering some barley in my next casserole.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Taggie for Maggie

It has been very hot this week so I spent a little extra time indoors sewing.  My daughter-in-law dropped off fabric for throw pillows so I figured I would whip them up.  Also my niece had a baby a few weeks ago and I wanted to make something personal for her.

A Taggie for Maggie

I got the idea for this taggie from a couple of posts on sewforum.com.  I used fleece for the center that I embroidered on and flannel for the borders and back.  Since she was 9 pounds and was born on June 9th, I was able to use the 9 for 2 stats - I am hoping my niece likes it!!

The pillows were made with outdoor canvas from Joann's.  The plain one were made from the method I described in an earlier post Decorator Pillows and the one with the sash I just added a rectangular tube of fabric and neatly sewed a button to the center after I added a pleat. I must add here that I just love sewing buttons on with my machine; I simply hate sewing buttons on by hand and with the sewing machine they are so much more secure. The pillow with the 4 buttons was just a strip of fabric that I finished both short ends; of course I sewed those 4 buttons on with my machine also.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gifts for a Baby Shower

I recently made some items for another baby shower.  The nursery theme is pink and purple butterflies and the baby's name is Isabelle.  I made the baby bunting from Simplicity pattern #2165, as I did for a gift in a  previous post.  But this time I added the baby's name on the inside of the upper back, along with a butterfly.

I made a blanket of two different flannels, one side with butterfly print and the other plain so that i could embroider the name on the top.

I made 2 types of hats, both that I had not previously made but adorned both with butterflies.  I also bought a onesie and added a butterfly.  Lastly I made 2 burp cloths with flannel left over from the other items, a pacifier bib and a case for baby wipes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monogrammed Robe

My son wanted to give his wife a lightweight robe as a gift.  So I monogrammed it using the Fancy Monogram Font 1 from embroitique.com.  I used a cut away stabilizer to maintain the shape of the fine lines and also fused a piece of Solvy Tender Touch on the inside for comfort. 

Embroidered Golf Shirts

I was at Penney's today and found these 2 Xersion shirts for $14/each.  They are Quick-Dri, stretch and semi-fitted short sleeve shirts for sport activities.  Since they will be perfect for golf, and it has been unusually hot thus far this golf season, I bought a white and a mango one.  I thought they might look cute with a golfer emblem and decided to adorn them. The golfer stick lady design I had saved in my stash and, unfortunately, do not know the source.

For the first one (mango) I used a layer of No Show translucent mesh 1.5 oz. Wunderstitch stabilizer in the hoop and floated a sheet of Stitch and Tear underneath. Afterwards, I ironed a piece of  Sulky Tender Touch on the underside.  I found that fusible does not work well on this thin fabric, as it shows through.  So I removed the Tender Touch and it looks much better.

For the white I just hooped a piece of Wunderstitch 1.5 oz. mesh cutaway and am much happier with the result. This fabric is too thin to just use tear away on because the design would not keep its shape. The design on the mango one is 2"X2.33" and on the white it is 1.6"X1.9".  Although both are acceptable I prefer the smaller design.  Both look nice on and I think are just a little cuter with the design on them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DIY Stagecoach Blind

I just made this stagecoach blind for my son's kitchen window.  My daughter-in-law selected the fabrics and the yellow-gold ribbon really makes it pop.  It is not just a window topper but a workable blind.  I basically used directions from eHow but modified the bottom to have a placket to hold a second identical rod.

She chose a decorator fabric for the top; Rich FC Jovial Island from Joann fabrics. The robin egg blue matches their KitchenAid Mixer.

We used an Offray grosgrain 1 1/2 inch ribbon; Yelgld 9.

The lining is a cotton; Meadow Lark Circle in orange

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Too Many Eggs - Make a Frittata

I had way too many eggs that needed used this week so I made a frittata for lunch.  I gathered vegetables that I had in the fridge, some cheese and 10 eggs.  Any vegetables work as does any kind of shredded cheese to equal about 1 cup.  So here's what I used.

Carrots, broccoli, onions - all chopped but since I was sauteing all together I chopped the carrots smaller so they would be tender in the same time as the larger pieces of broccoli and onion.

So I had shredded cheddar cheese and I shredded a small block of pepper jack cheese to make 1 cup of combined cheese.  I knew my hubby would like some meat so I chopped up some Virginia baked ham to mix in also.  I had a small amount of chopped turkey bacon from last weekend so I figured I would throw it in also.

I used an 11 inch skillet that can be placed in the oven for the last minutes of baking.

I sauteed the vegetables in 2 tablespoons of olive oil till tender, about 4 minutes.  Then I stirred in the ham and cooked for a few minutes more.  Lastly I added the bacon bits and 3/4 cup of the cheese.  I stirred all together and then used my immersion blender to mix the 10 eggs.

I really like the immersion blender as I can use it in hot mixtures as well as cold. It is the perfect instrument to blend lumps out of your gravy.  You just have to remember to keep it on the bottom of the pan or pot when it is in motion.              
So when my ingredients were tender and all heated through, I poured in the eggs.  Then I sprinkled the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on top.  I also added a few twists of ground pepper over it all.  I usually add some salt but did not this time because I used ham and bacon and there would be enough salt.

I kept the pan over medium heat for a few minutes until the eggs were getting dry around the edge of pan.  Then I pop in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.  The frittata is a perfect meal with some fruit or a small salad.  It can also be eaten cold later in the day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Embroidered Gifts

I was asked to monogram a canvas tote bag as a birthday gift.  It is for an 80th birthday so I figured the recipient would like a classic font.  I used a font from Embroitique the Fancy Monogram 1. 

I also wanted to give some kitchen towels as small gifts at dinner on Mother's Day, so I made a design using The Fancy Monogram 1 for a 4 inch initial and then for the full name used the Embird Alphabet #23.  I used a small coffee cup symbol that I had downloaded from somewhere in the past.  I will use this combination again because I really like it.