Tuesday, December 4, 2012

diy rag quilt

So, my life has become complete mayhem! I know that we all feel a bit crazy and a bit overwhelmed from time to time and I am there 110%. My husband and I recently bought our first home. We are starting to hit the thirty-something mark, so it isn't as if we have rushed into anything. Though I could say the same things about many aspects of our relationship! We did get married on our 8th year anniversary of dating (though we knew each other even longer) and I love our story and our relationship as a result of the choices we have made. We went into the process having chosen a single neighborhood essentially. We have been living in an apartment in the same area and we just love being able to walk to so many things, including to the park, library, movies, and several restaurants. This meant purchasing a ranch style home in an older neighborhood. I adore older homes. I am not sure that I would quote this particular time period as my favorite... I generally would shade more towards Victorian or Bungalow style. However, that wasn't really in our price range or in the neighborhood we were interested in. So, we started this hunt with the concept that we wanted a 3 bedroom, at least 1.5 bath home with original hardwoods at least in some parts of the home, with decent energy efficiency, and at this time in our lives not too far from move in ready. Well several months down the road and a gutted kitchen later... here we are sleep deprived, creativity taxed, and now only a couple weeks from D-day (move out/in day) and our kitchen is still not quite complete (pictures to follow). Needless to say I am thrilled about owning our first home with gorgeous mature trees, no updates pretty much since it was built in 1970, and lots of charm (read 'imperfect' here), but we have probably bitten off more than we could chew. This concept is so difficult for me, because I am someone who likes to have things completed, but let the lessons in home ownership begin! However, after going in and out of every for sale house in this neighborhood I am happy to have my own mess of choices, rather than inheriting those of several people before me. But, enough said on that subject- I am sure there will be a lot more to come later.
This blog is about my little sister who is having her 3rd baby and 1st little girl, Taylor Alexis. She and my mom picked out a ton of fabric for bedding, receiving blankets and the like, so I stole some of her facebook posts of fabrics and made her a rag quilt. It has become a bit of a tradition, since I made animal ones for both of her boys (turtle pictured). Caution these colors are bright, but that is my sister, as you will see from photos of the nursery she is decorating. (Have I mentioned that Taylor Alexis will not be here until the end of January?)

 Rag Quilt
instructions taken from The Wonder
1/2 yard each of 4 patterned flannel fabrics (yeah for 1.50/yard fabric at Joann's on Black Friday!)
1 1/2 yards of white flannel
1 1/2 yards of flannel for back
thread, scissors (though I wish I had a good rotary cutter), tape measure, pins, sewing machine

1. wash and dry your fabrics!
2. Cut the 4 patterned fabrics into strips ranging from 3-5", then cut a white and back to match.
3. Sandwich them together with right sides visible, pin, and stitch right down the middle
4. Lay out your strips in the pattern that you desire, then pin and begin to stitch rows together with rough edges facing up towards the top of the blanket and backs together leaving a 1/2" seam allowance (I did this 2x2, then just kept going)
5. Trim edges to be even around the sides of the blanket, then cut rough edges on top of blanket into strips being careful to not cut stitches
6. Bind edges, by either making a blanket binding from scraps (what I did, though it was booger) or by stitching all the way around with a 1/2" seam allowance and cut the edges in strips the same as the rest of the blanket
washing it will make it just that much softer and more finished looking, I however have not gotten to that step yet!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DIY shopping cart cover

Finally back to blogging! How I miss having free time. What is it about today's lifestyle that completely depletes fun and free time? Crafting and blogging are some of the first things to go when I feel depleted, especially since I am incapable of letting go of reading. This fall I have enjoyed reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, among several more. I wish that I could read many of the books soon to be represented in the Oscar buzz worthy movies coming out as well. I guess I really can't complain too much since I have really been enjoying the fall weather by going hiking and in general trying to be outside as much as possible.

But now on to crafting! Both my sister and my sister-in-law are expecting babies within 2 weeks of one another, which means a great excuse for a lot of crafting, starting with this DIY shopping cart cover for my sister and brother-in-law. They are obsessed with classic toys and are decorating their future little boy's bedroom with a Mickey Mouse theme.

I used a McCall's pattern, since it was on sale for a $1 at Joann Fabrics.

I used: 2.25 yds of 45" flannel fabric, 2 yd of contrast cotton fabric, 2 yd of natural cotton batting, 1.5 yd of  1/2 " elastic, plastic safety buckle, 2 yds of webbing (I used a natural rather than nylon which was called for)

1. This shopping cart is first layered batting and flannel and stitched but not locked in place. 2. Then with right sides together the flannel and cotton contrast are stitched together leaving a hole to turn it right side out. 3. Once turned the circumference is restitched 3/4" from the edge to allow for the elastic to be fed through the hole following the next steps. 4. Stitch around the circumference of the leg holes. 5. Next the pattern allows for fabric to create a bias tape and this will be done at this time, by stitching the ends together of a parallelogram like shape only meeting up at the middle 2/3rds. (sorry for the lack of pictures!) Then cut bias tape for one continuous length at the 1/3rd width. Pressing wrong sides in 1/4 width of the bias tape on both sides then press in half. 6. Bias tape is used to finish leg holes, tops of pockets, and top of bag. 7. After finishing leg holes and reinforcing with two seams around the circumference, create buttonholes at the back from the buckle and strap in the traditional manner. 8. Next the pockets are created with both contrasting colors, then binding is attached with 1/2" loop at each end for the attachment of pacifiers or toys, finally attached to the cover. 9. Create storage bag in much the same way, except that it is only attached to cover by the binding at the back of the cover. It called for use of the same two colors, but I ran out of fabric and used a black knit which worked out very nicely. 10. Attach the webbing to the buckle then thread into the buttonhole. 11. Finally thread the elastic between the outer seams of the cover (I like to use a safety pin to make it easier to hold when threading it through), stitching the elastic together once complete with a zigzag or locking stitch. Sew the exterior hole closed.

Ps It was so awkward taking pics of this at a grocery store when I don't have any children yet! lol

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Memphis in May with diy picnic blankets

For some reason it is ingrained in me that I should not go to anyone's home without bringing something to offer them and I simply love doing it! This time we went to our friend P's house in Memphis to visit and enjoy the concert series Memphis in May. MiM had an amazing line up this year, some of the highlights being Florence and the Machine, the Civil Wars, Alison Kraus, Evanescence, the Cold War Kids, and Bush. MiM doesn't allow any lawn chairs, food, or drink to be brought in though. So, I gifted P a homemade picnic blanket. I have now made several of these for friends. This time a cheated a bit by purchasing vinyl tablecloths from HomeGoods, then purchased flannel from Joann's. To make a larger blanket I purchased the flannel at a length that is twice the width of the table cloth, cut it in two, then sewed the long right sides together. You then cut the flannel and the table cloth. The flannel should be 2" shorter in length and width. Lay wrong sides together with the flannel on top. Fold the table cloth towards the flannel by one 1/2" then another 1/2" and pin to flannel. Before stitching down I also added two lengths of ribbon equally spaced at the top 1/4 of the blanket's length t act as ties. I was also able to use extra vinyl to create 'rock pockets' on one of the blankets so that you could weight the blanket down to prevent the wind from flying away.     


Saturday, June 30, 2012

more baby shower fun with a diy pendant banner, burp cloths, and recipe for peanut butter buckeyes

Thanks again to Leslee for letting me participate in a small way in this baby shower. I really was fortunate to help a talented bunch of girls and cannot take credit for half of this adorableness!

Pendant banner

Adapted from Craftiness is Not Optional

Materials: Fabric (I purchased a charm package and muslin for back, bias tape, thread, pinking shears, etc.

1. Decide on a triangle size and make a template. I didn't have a great rotary cutter so just cut them out by hand in a 4.5 x 5 inch triangle.
2. With wrong sides together, pin and stitch a muslin and colored triangle together on two sides, leaving the top open.
3. Pin and stitch bias tape to top of the triangles after making sure to measure the size of the space and draping required.

DIY burp cloths Adapted from Petite Lemon

Materials: cloth diapers, fabric, notions (ribbon or bias tape), thread, etc.

1. Pre-wash all fabrics. Measure each cloth diapers middle tri fold section then cut fabric an inch bigger in width and length.

2. Fold and pen fabric to middle section with a 1/2 inch fold. I found the edges of the burp cloths to be very uneven and rustic looking just to warn you!
3. Stitch and press burp cloth.
4. Add any notions and stitch them down as desired.

Peanut Butter Buckeyes
Courtesy of smitten kitchen

Oh how I could wax and wane on the attributes of peanut butter and chocolate combined. It is a serious affront to me that my husband doesn't really love either! Fortunately other circumstances continue to arise that give me opportunities to make concoctions involving both. My most recent being making baby shower favors for a couple who are Ohio state fans. The baby shower also had a nest theme so I chose to pack them in my leftover pots with crinkled paper and paper bows.

Adapted, just a little, from Baked Explorations

Yield: 64

1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (I used smooth)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 14 graham crackers)
Salt (optional, see note up top)
3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped (I cheated and used chips)

Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat for 10 seconds. Add the sugar and butter, and mix on the lowest speed until it stops floating off everywhere, then increase the speed until the ingredients are combined. Scrape down the whole bowl well, then mix again. The mixture will be quite sturdy and a little dry — perfect for shaping. Set it aside while you prepare the coating.

Make the coating: Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, stirring until it is completely smooth or in a microwave in 30 then 10 second increments, stirring before you start it again until it is completely smooth. Let it cool to tepid (about 100 degrees, though I’d go a little cooler next time for a thicker coating; I had a few ounces of chocolate leftover) while you shape the peanut butter centers. [Alternately, you can temper the chocolate (fairly simply instructions here) for a perfect showy finish.]

Assemble the candies: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out slightly more than one tablespoon’s worth of filling (their suggestion; I used a scoop that made them a little smaller) and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared sheet and repeat the process until all of the candies have been shaped. They can sit close to each other but make sure they are not touching.

Using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate and roll it about so that almost the entire candy is coating, leaving a small circle uncoated. Play around with a few practice pieces; I found it easiest to stick the skewer in the side, angle the bowl I was using towards it and make sure it became submerged as I rolled the candy around. But don’t fuss too much; even the “ugly” ones won’t go to waste. **I had far too many ugly ones and was completely terrible at this!

Chill the buckeyes until they are set, about 30 minutes.

Do ahead: Buckeyes will keep in the fridge for what the book says is 3 days, but I’d say at least a week, should you keep them in a lockbox and hide the key.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

burlap Christmas tree skirt tutorial

Materials:                                                               a square of muslin fabric (44x44), a square of contrast cotton fabric (44x44), a yard of burlap, 10 yards of trim, 1 yard of ribbon, 1 yard of heavy weight iron-on adhesive if same width as burlap, otherwise compensate, thread and other sewing notions 
1. Wash and dry cotton fabrics. Iron if necessary to ensure accurate measurements. 2. First iron adhesive onto burlap to stabilize and prevent burlap from stretching as you sew it later. I would also recommend requesting that your burlap is cut into an even square at the the cutting counter by having them pull a strand from both ends to create a straight line, as burlap is not rolled evenly onto the bolt. 3. Fold your burlap into quarters. Using a pin, pin the end of your measuring tape to the center of the burlap. Draw a circle evenly using the measuring tape (my radius was approximately 17).

4. Repeat this process with the muslin and coordinating fabric, but make larger (mine was approximately 21).  

5. Cut coordinating fabric to have a one inch overlap with burlap then pin with wrong sides together and sew with a quarter or half inch seam. 6. Trim seams and press open if necessary to reduce bulkiness.  
7. Pin muslin and tree skirt top with wrong sides together with trim in between. 8. When full circle has been stitched, cut radius of circle on one side and cut a small circle from the center (mine was 4 inches across and a measured once again with tape measure).              
9. Pin sides and center circle together, leaving a small whole half way up one side spanning at least 4 inches. *Don't forget to pin ribbon to tie tree skirt closed I chose to make ties at 3 different spots (you can vaguely see their shadow in picture) evenly spaced. My ribbon measured approximately 6- 6 inches pieces. I also made sure to not place the whole where one of the ribbons was so that they would be neatly locked in place.  10. Turn tree skirt right side out, then whip stitch opening closed. I cheated and stitched with the machine really close to the edge.

I am so obsessed with brown craft paper and its many uses. Not to mention this ribbon was leftover from my DIY picnic blanket projects.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting recipe

What nicer way to treat your mother-in-law than by baking her something sweet. Here's hoping she enjoys and appreciates them, though I am certainly wishing that I could be spoiling my mom in AK instead! I feel as if I really lucked out by having amazing parents, who put my siblings and I first to a fault. There really aren't words or time enough to describe all the wonderful things that she has taught me about being a strong, independent, resourceful person. Simply the value of the fact that she is someone who truly listens when you talk to her, no matter who you are. She would generously give everything that she has to her friends and loved ones, and does. And, despite having siblings, she never failed to make each one of us feel special in our own way. I loved her motto throughout our school years that 'as long as you try your hardest I will always be proud of you.' I love you mom!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Taken from the brown eyed baker 
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 20 minutes
For the Cupcakes:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons red food coloring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar (I had to add more powdered sugar to stiffen up frosting enough to use 1M)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin/cupcake pan with liners.
2. On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.
5. Again, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda and vinegar. Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.
7. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
8. To make the frosting: Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.
*Note: This recipe can be doubled to make an 8 or 9-inch layer cake.
(Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbookhttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=broeyebak-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1845978315)
Here is a good reference for cupcake decorating: Decorate This!. I used the 1M tip!