Postage Stamp Quilt-Along Update

I’m a little behind on my post this week. I was stressed out about it because I thought I’d solved all my technology problems from the past few weeks. I was wrong. I think technology hates my blog. I was so mad the other day that I almost swore off blogging. But my husband helped put things into perspective: “No one is wailing and smashing their computer because you haven’t posted in time. They’ll see it when they see it.” Oh, Alex, you keep me grounded in reality. My response was, “Well, they *should* be.”
But, I’m still here, and (dare I say it??) think most of my tech problems are solved.

I’m excited to say I have already completed my February Postage Stamp Challenge! I solemnly vowed to sew all of quadrant 1 into sets of 4.

Sewing is done.

And ironing is done.

It was pretty awesome to iron these out. I started getting a feel for how things are going to look!

There were some sad ones. Several are like the one below, where the seams just don’t quite match. I didn’t have any tragically off-kilter ones, but I’m a little concerned about how it might throw things off. Of course, I’m worrying too much about it..

And I found a fabric I sewed on backwards. It’s the orange in the upper right. I *almost* took it apart to flip it, but I realized that it just doesnt matter and that I may like the backside better anyway.
And then there’s this bad boy… He’s more than a little snaggle-toothed. I am going to see if this block can be salvaged, but I suspect I will have to take it apart and maybe replace a couple of the squares. It might be for the best, all those lines going in different directions make me a little nauseated and anxious lol.

But overall, I was really pleased with how they look. I definitely have some favorites! The one below just makes me really happy for some reason.

A few produced some color combos I’d never really considered. In the future, I may look to these for inspiration:

I really liked this one with the frog.

I definitely have a weakness for aqua, red, and black together. All my favorite blocks turned out to contain green/aqua, red/orange, and black and white!

Now I’m going through and squaring up all my blocks. Does using a rotary cutter make everyone’s elbows burn, or am I doing something wrong??

Bring on March’s challenge, Mary!! I’m ready!

 

Don’t be an idiot (like me…) Part 2

I have a feeling you guys are going to get sick of seeing these squares! Especially since, to the untrained eye, it looks like nothing is happening with them.

While it *is* in fact slow-going… it’s at least going. If you’ll pay special attention to the bag in the upper right corner, you can see it’s well organized while the other bags are in complete disarray. I’ve sewn all those squares into duos and have IRONED THEM. (I never iron anything. Unless I really really really really REALLY have to. And this time I really really really really REALLY had to.)

Which brings me to my point.

I am not at all an expert on fabric. I’m learning a bit at a time, especially as I follow other bloggers. When Mary at The Curious Quilter said there should be no homespuns included in the swap, I literally had to Google it. Now I know what a homespun is (or I at least have a clearer picture), and I went through my swapping fabric and pulled out all the probable homespuns.

But I’d already learned a valuable lesson during my ironing sessions. When I was ironing out my duos, some of my fabrics MELTED. Yes. They just shriveled up into a crunchy mess. So, my assumption is that some of those fabrics were synthetics. I am systematically having to go through my bags of squares and pull out the offenders and test the suspects. I am really excited that I get to personally touch all 3000+ squares at least 20 times each. (Sarcasm.)

So, don’t be an idiot like me. Learn your fabrics. Know what you’re using. And if you’re in doubt, test before you cut, sort, and sew.

So, you fellow swappers out there, I am sorry if you get my fabric!!! I am definitely trying to do this right, and I can assure you that you will not have anything that I *think* is a homespun, and you will not have anything that will melt!


Here’s a sad little shot of some of my swapping squares. I have so many duplicates, it’s not even funny. I am making sure that each set is without duplicates, but I have the potential to create LOTS of sets. 🙂

What NOT To Do When You’re Quilting (Or: Destroying The Owl Quilt)

This is the sort of post that I never ever ever want to make. But SOMEONE (me) thought it would be a good idea to sign the Process Pledge, so I guess I have to chronicle this.

I started quilting my sister’s owl quilt. I was super excited to be finalizing the project. I looked into having a pro quilt it for me, but, partially to save money and partially for bragging rights, I decided to just quilt it myself.
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It was going way better than I expected. The top was a little more poofy than I expected, but ok, no problem.
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The stitching wasn’t *great*, but it was waaaaaaay better than my first attempt at free-motion quilting! I’ll just admit… I was pretty proud of myself.

Until I turned my quilt over.

Here’s what I have to “brag” about:
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Don’t really see a problem? Let’s look a little closer, shall we?
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Oh yeah. That’s a foot-long fold in my backing. And it’s not the only one, there are little folds all over the place, this is just the worst of it. I can fit my finger through the tunnel, so I know I’ve got a good two inches folded over. I’m pretty disappointed.

So, the only option I really have is to take out ALL… THOSE… STITCHES. And do it all over again. This is a problem for a few reasons. 1. That’s a lot of work. 2. I’m going to have HOLES all over my quilt. 3. I don’t want to do it.

But Alex and I are going to watch some TV in bed, and I guess I’ll be curling up with my ruined quilt and my new best friend, Seam Ripper.

The Transformation of Mr. Hunny Bear

Dexter has finally chosen a comfort item.

When I was pregnant, my husband sent me a beautiful (and yummy!) fruit bouquet for Valentine’s Day. A soft white bear happened to be attached, so I just added it to the tiny but growing basket of Dexter toys. In the first 21 months of his life, he barely paid attention to it.

Then he became socially  aware.

He now recognizes that his cousins, Ty and Micah, sleep with bears. One day we were talking about it while I was rocking him (Actually, I was singing about it. Yes, we have a Ty and Micah song.) and afterward Dex really wanted a bear to sleep with. I pulled out the girly white bear and he has slept with him ever since.

A few days later, we were having lunch with my friend, Lisa, and her daughter, Alex. Alex’s favorite toy is a bear named Sunny. Dexter was really excited about “Sunny Bear”, and talked quite a bit about her. And eventually he started calling his own bear Hunny Bear.

Since the attachment is growing stronger, I decided I’d risk ruining Hunny Bear early on in order to make him more boyish. And less dorky. Let’s face it, random bears that come with bouquets aren’t made with aesthetics in mind.

Here is Hunny Bear’s journey:

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Meet… Anya.

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I really think my least favorite part is the ugly floral embroidery on the foot. But we’ll get to that. Easiest first step: Lose the bow!

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What I really wanted to do next was get away from the white fur. If this becomes Dexter’s permanent buddy, white is going to look gross fast. I was hoping to warm it up to a honey tone, but a few things were in my way. 1. I know almost nothing about dying. I knew the tone I wanted, and I knew it needed to be child-safe. But I didn’t really know what would work on the mostly synthetic fur. Which leads me to my next point… 2. I am IMPATIENT and I wanted to start dying NOW. So my options were pretty much limited to a tea bath.

I boiled a bunch of tea bags, added some vinegar for good measure, and gave Hunny Bear a bath. Dex enjoyed watching the process from his high chair 🙂

IMG_7994(Ok, so I just took one picture of him, and it only proves that he enjoyed playing with the discarded ribbon and playing with his ears, and that I haven’t cleaned off my dining room table in a while… but I promise, he enjoyed watching Hunny Bear get dyed!)

Poor Hunny Bear really went through a lot. I hope for his sake that Toy Story isn’t true.

The pre-dye soak:

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Into the boiling hot water:

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The “Poor Wet Rat” stage (btw, THIS is the color I hoped he’d be.):

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Rinsing and wringing:

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After this, I realized that the dye was just barely taking and that the tea bits were not going to come out of the fur with a hand rinse. I think Dexter’s favorite part of the whole process was to personally throw Hunny Bear into the washing machine 🙂

While he was washing and drying, I made a tie. If I had to do over, I’d research the actual proportions of ties and plan the length a little better. But remember the impatience we discussed earlier? I decided to just go for it. I cut a folded length of fabric into the approximate shape of a tie.

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I didn’t want to put a lot of effort into it, and I didn’t mind if the tie frayed, so it is just a single layer.

I unfolded the tie and machine-stitched around the edges. I did two rows to help ensure that the fraying didn’t get entirely out of control. I really like the way it looks!

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After failing to understand several diagrams, I used a tutorial video to learn how to tie my necktie. I stitched at the knot so the necktie wouldn’t come off.  I think, since I made a weirdo little tie, that it almost looks more like a scarf than a necktie. But it’s way better than that purple bow.

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After he was dry, I could tell the dye was just *almost* a waste of time. But at least now he is a gentle vanilla shade instead of stark white. So ultimately it was worth the effort.

Dexter was happy to see Hunny Bear again and didn’t seem to mind the new changes.

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Phase Two involved covering all traces of purple. I used scraps of chocolate brown fleece to patch over the nose and feet. So so cute!!!! This was my favorite change!

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One last step… Goodbye forever, Anya!

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And officially hello, Hunny Bear!!

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Training Pants Prototype & Tutorial

I’ve had a hard time finding training pants for Dexter, and because I like to make things, I decided to give training pants a try :). I browsed a little for tutorials before deciding to just do my own thing.

I will preface this by saying they didn’t fit very well, so I’m going to make some changes. However, I think this tutorial will be a good one when I work out the kinks. I deliberately chose a knit fabric that had very little stretch… I was worried they’d become floppy. It turned out to be a mistake because I had to work really hard to get the pants over his chubby legs and booty. Next I’m going to try a knit with more stretch, and make the cuts a little roomier. Since the center panel is non-stretch I now know they do have to be cut bigger.

Onward!

Supplies

Undies to use as a template (until I upload a pattern) {UPDATE: Amber at Mom Road has created a printable pattern using this tutorial! There are a few modifications with her pattern, including a PUL layer!}

Prefold diapers

Knit fabric (I used an old t-shirt)

Cutting

Step 1: Choose undies to use as a template. (After I perfect my pattern I will upload something printable in case you have no undies to work from) I used 2T-3T undies.IMG_6056

Step 2: Lay undies on folded diaper, centering undies on the thickest part. Cut diaper so that when folded it’s as tall as the undies. I chose the width by cutting about a half an inch past the thick part of the diaper. (BTW how CUTE are those undies???)IMG_6063

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Step 3: Put the folded and cut diaper inside the undies to determine leg-hole cuts. Mark about a half an inch from the leg-hole for seam allowance. Do this for the front and the back.IMG_6070

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Step 4: Make leg-hole cuts. One of mine looks a little sloppy, just focus on how pretty the one on the right is 🙂IMG_6074

Step 5: Make the stretchy side panels. Fold knit fabric vertically. Lay undies on top with the side against the fold. Lay diaper on top of undies, letting the edge overlap the the edge of the knit fabric. This takes care of your seam allowance. (Does that make sense? If this step is horribly confusing and/or the picture doesn’t make sense, leave a comment and I’ll try to do better!!) Cut 2 of those.IMG_6076

Step 6: Make the waistband. Fold vertically, line one size of your undies up with the fold. Cut the waist band about 3-4 inches wide to allow for folding over and the seam allowance. (I think I prefer a wider waist band, and next time I will cut closer to 4 inches.)IMG_6078

Step 7: Create the leg bands. I forgot to take a picture for this step. but basically I flattened the leg-hole of the undies to get the length of my strip. I cut to a width of about 2 inches.

Here are all my cut pieces to give you a reference for how big each one is and where they they should go:IMG_6080

Sewing

Step 1: Sew side panels to the back of the diaper, right sides together so that the seam will be on the inside (unless you want the seam on the outside. I considered that, it might be more comfy for your toddler). Line the top of the diaper up with the top of the panel, leaving the extra fabric at the leg-holes. We’ll trim that later. I also used a straight stitch for this step.IMG_6081

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Step 2: Sew side panels to the front of the diaper (also right sides together, seam on the inside).IMG_6086

Step 3: Trim excess fabric to shape the leg-holes.IMG_6089

Step 4: Sew ends of the waistband together to create a loop, seam on the inside.IMG_6091

Step 5: Fold the waistband in half, wrong sides together.IMG_6094

Step 6: Turn your pants right side out. Pin your waistband to the outside of the pants with all raw edges together. I also made sure I pinned the seam of the band to the back of the pants, because it would have made me crazy if I didn’t 🙂 IMG_6095

Step 7: Sew on waistband. IMPORTANT: USE A ZIGZAG STITCH!! If you use a straight stitch for this step the threads will pop when stretched… boo, we no likey.

Step 8: This is actually a lot of steps combined. Follow steps 4-7 for each leg-hole. Don’t forget to use your zigzag stitch!!!!

And now you have a pair of training pants!IMG_6099

They look a little funny here with all the threads and stretched-outedness. In theory, you’d clip the threads and be done. But in reality, I tried them on Dexter and they just didn’t fit. Sure, I managed to get them on him, but, as I said before, there was just not enough stretch. But they sure are cute!!!IMG_6117

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Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Bars With Cream Cheese Filling

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This is what happens when you see someone else is having lemon raspberry cake (thanks Kaedra!!) but you don’t usually like cake AND you don’t have a recipe for anything lemon-raspberry-y.

Using a basic cookies-from-cake-mix recipe, I came up with this delicious monstrosity:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350.IMG_6033

Step 2: Soften 1/2 stick butter.

Step 3: Start telling your husband a story and accidentally melt the butter entirely.IMG_6010

Step 4: Add an egg.IMG_6013 

Step 5: Add dry lemon cake mix. Use organic, so your dessert will be inherently better.IMG_6005

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Step 6: Stir until you realize there is absolutely not enough liquid to moisten the dry cake mix.IMG_6016

Step 7: Soften another 1/2 stick of butter. Correctly this time. Feel pride.IMG_6018

Step 8: Decide there is STILL not enough liquid and add 1 Tbsp milk at a time until it seems right. This takes 2 Tbsp milk.IMG_6020

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Step 9: Fold in 6oz of beautiful raspberries.IMG_6024

Step 10: Decide to pulverize the raspberries instead of gently folding them into the batter. IMG_6028

Step 11: Find a clean  pan. If you don’t have one, wash only one pan. You wouldn’t want to do any extra work. Dollop batter onto the pan in heaping spoonfuls. If you have extra batter, just put it into any other cooking apparatus and be done with it. IMG_6032

Step 12: Bake for 9-12 min. IMG_6034

Step 13: In the meantime, prepare filling/icing. Combine 8 oz spreadable cream cheese, 1/4 c powdered sugar, and about 1/3 tub of leftover store-bought butter cream icing.*

*Not all butter cream icing has streaks of green in it, but you can achieve this at home by sticking a knife with already tinted icing into your nice clean icing. Just throw the rest of that tainted icing back into your cabinets and save it for a rainy day.IMG_6037

Step 14: Blend filling/icing ingredients until smooth.IMG_6041

Step 15: Note a burning smell. Confirm that your haphazardly dolloped batter is now spilling over the sides of the pan and landing on the heating element of the stove. Yum! You’re almost done!IMG_6044

Step 16: Realize that during baking, your batter became a cookie conglomerate.IMG_6045

Step 17: Decide to make a cookie-bar casserole. Chill filling/icing while cookie mass cools, then stack cookie-filling-cookie into a casserole dish.IMG_6049

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Now, despite how horrendous this thing looks, and all the trouble I had while constructing it, it tastes really really good. Especially that filling. It taste almost like cheesecake. I will use it in the future with other desserts. Also, if I ever make this again, I am just pouring the batter into a casserole dish, baking it as cookie bars, then icing it after it cools. But you learn as you go 🙂

Progress Report: Pink/Blue Owl Quilt

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I’m both excited and frustrated… I’m extremely happy because I completed all 12 of my squares!!! But I ran across lots of problems. Namely that I apparently cut my sashing strips too short, boo, and I can’t find my scrap material to add to the strips, extra boo. And by the end, I was having a lot of sewing trouble and I’m going to have to rip some seams. A break was called for.

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I am LOVING the way it’s looking with the sashing. I can’t wait til I work out the kinks. I added a little plain chocolate brown to the length , hopefully it won’t be too distracting. I’ll have to do this on every wide strip and at the end of all the border pieces.

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It’s really coming together! The tree on the back will be the next challenge 🙂