Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Ladies are Calling

Of course I am talking about the Downton Abbey ladies. If you read my post HERE, you'll know I have been inundated with glorious fabrics designed to celebrate the ladies of my favorite TV series, Downton Abbey. I continue to build this quilt, enjoying each and every step.

I finished all the Ohio Star blocks I needed and just love the colours that pop from them. Some of my blocks show strong contrast, while others are softer and more muted, just what I was looking for. After all, the Downton Ladies show both strong wills and shyness and timidity depending upon the situation and the character. 


This quilt builds from the centre "Towne Square", so once the Ohio Star blocks were framed on two sides, I started sewing them into rows for the tops and sides.


Luckily, we had a sunny afternoon last week so I could "fly" the top complete with the Ohio Star borders. During that same windy day, my clothesline broke, so until it is fixed, I will use my deck wall as background for my quilts.


Can you tell it was yet another windy day in the Strait area?


The next step is to sew three narrow borders to the top and then begin the outer pieced border that is made of alternating shoo fly and square in a square blocks. I ran out of fabric for my borders so am waiting for the fabric to arrive before I can finish the borders and make the blocks for the outer border. 

When I take a break from machine sewing, I often head to my quilting chair in the living room to watch a movie and do a little handwork. Today is a snow day so I plan to spend the afternoon thinking of summer while I finish sewing the binding onto Summer Leaf, my orange peel lap quilt that arrived from the LAQ before Christmas. 


This quilt is indeed a scrappy quilt, as you can see, constructed from a multitude of bright fabrics I used for the petals, or leaves, and the combination of a variety of white tone on tone  fabrics I used for the setting blocks and border. 

I love the quilting design Ange used. I'm using a green daisy print for the binding, bringing everything together like a flower garden! The quilt isn't very big, a good sized cuddle quilt, or maybe a wall hanging, measuring at 48" x 60". 


Thanks for coming by on a snowy wintry day in Cape Breton! It's a great day for quilting!

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Sunday Snowman Finish

It was a beautiful, crisp winter day yesterday, the perfect day to finish my Warm Winter Blessings quilt and take a few pictures.


I am particularly proud of this quilt, since I made the entire quilt from start to finish myself! Usually I send out my lap/larger quilts to be quilted by my long armer, but this time I wanted to do it myself. 


I used my trusty renditions of loop de loop free motion quilting in the backgrounds and borders and added a little "oomph" with the cross hatching I used in the triple sashings - which, by the way, took forever and a day! There was a lot of handling the quilt and pushing and shoving it around while using my Pfaff, but luckily my appliques were well attached!


The sun was shining through the slats of the fence so you can't see the quilting very well on the blue border. I used the same loop de loop design, just made it a little larger and matched my thread. The quilting doesn't show up that well in the picture, but the texture is just what I wanted. 



Warm Winter Blessings is a quilt designed by Lisa Bongean . This is another one of my favorites ever quilt!




Thanks so much for coming by today. It's a great day for quilting!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Ladies and Designer Car Bags

Downton Abbey is one of my all time favorite TV shows. 


I have followed it from the beginning and was so enamored with it, that when Andover Fabrics produced its first collection of Downton Abbey fabric over a year ago, I immediately ordered a quilt kit featuring the Ladies of Downton Abbey fabrics from the Fat Quarter Shop. ( I don't believe the kit is still available, but they have more recent fabrics from the Downton Abbey line.)


Even before the fabric had arrived in quilt shops across the land, my pre-order was in and I was anxiously awaiting its arrival.  Fast forward over a year, and this luscious fabric that I so adored was still sitting in a tote in my sewing corner. With the Christmas holidays a distant memory, and the beginning of Season Five of Downton Abbey last week, the fabrics have now come to life in my upstairs sewing room.  

Although a pattern called Ladies of Downton Abbey arrived with the fabrics, I liked it, but I didn't love it.


However,  I am in love with a free pattern that I found online designed by Wendy Sheppard for RJR Fabrics called Towne Square. The pattern features fabric designed by Lynette Anderson but I see quite a similarity in the colour families of both collections so I think it will work.


I can just picture the Ladies Mary, Edith, and Sybil strolling along in the Towne Square, of course being chaperoned by Countess Cora and the Dowager Countess of Grantham, all wearing their elegant dresses of blues, greens, lavenders, and burgundies, with Lady Sybil's dress always being a little bit more modern!

I really like this pattern because it is scrappy, uses a variety of quilt blocks including the Ohio Star, the Shoo Fly, and the Square in a Square and is a good size at 77" x 77".

You'll see that the centre of the quilt is a great mix of fabrics, with sashing that features scrappy cornerstones. The fabric includes tone on tones, small prints, large prints, bold prints, and pale prints, perfect for a scrappy quilt.


I have a good start on three Ohio  Stars.


I love how a larger block is then created by adding 3 1/2" strips to the top and sides of the star...


or is the bottom and sides?



The three at a glance...


I have lots left to do, but am enjoying making this quilt so much. 

Of course, I did finish a few smaller projects last week. I made some nifty little fabric trash bags for the cars. Each has a stiff liner inside so you can put a plastic grocery bag or a large zip lock bag inside and fold over the liner to hold in place. 


I used some coffee themed fabric for two of the bags. After all, don't we usually need to find a place for our fill our empty coffee cups? 



I made the smaller middle bag with iron-on vinyl to make the fabric waterproof. It turned out OK, but it lost the look of a brand new project...kind of wrinkled by the time I finished it. I kept this one for me and the others have new homes in Alberta and New Brunswick. The trash bags hang from the gearshift in the car on the passenger side. 

My DD had pinned the bag on Pinterest and I was able to find the tutorial with the instructions HERE. Designer Stephanie Hughes also sells her finished Designer Car Bags in her Etsy shop, Green Goose, right HERE, if you'd rather buy than make. Thanks, Stephanie, for a great tutorial! 

As always, it is a great day for quilting!






Monday, January 5, 2015

A Year of Angels

Happy New Year to everyone! We had a wonderful Christmas with family, friends, and lots of Face Time that helped a little bit in erasing the miles. Our DS was home with us and actually counted my Santas, including collectible Santas, cookie jar Santas, salt and pepper Santas, and the Santa quilts that I have around the house. He counted 93 Santas, so when I say I love Christmas, I guess this is the proof!

During the holidays, I let my computer time slide so I could enjoy each and every day of Christmas, but when the tree came down earlier today, I knew it would be a good day to  reconnect!

I made a few quilty items as Christmas gifts so thought I would share a few of them with you. One of my good friends is an angel collector, so last February I googled "angel quilts" and found a pattern called Redwork Angels by Beth Ritter. Throughout the year, I worked on the 12 redwork angels, designed for each month of the year. In early December, I managed to sew the blocks together, machine quilt it, and then gave it to my friend just in time for Christmas.


I changed the pattern just a tad and quilted it with stitch in the ditch and some cross hatch quilting with my Pfaff. Here are a few close-ups...



I think the December angel is my favorite...






I cross hatched up to each design, without going through the angels, which managed to hold everything fairly flat as I didn't want the angels to puff out.




The quilt finished at about 36" x 44" and is now hanging in my friend's house. I had just as much happiness in making this quilt and giving it to my friend as she says she felt when she received it. I love making a quilt for someone special! 

I made a few smaller items to send out West, including a little Minnie pouch. I picked up the fabric last summer and decided to quilt it and make it into a little bag for my DD, a perfect size for any teacher to use to hold pens and markers. I filled it with a huge assortment of new Sharpies so I know it will be put to good use! 






I also sent DD and DSIL a table topper for their new round table which they got just before the holidays.  


I used some Christmas/Winter charms I had on hand, machine quilted it with a  loop de loop design, added a few snowflakes, and made half a dozen cloth napkins to coordinate.



Over the holidays, Woodworker Hubby helped me make an upstairs sewing room in  one of the spare rooms. That way, I can FMQ my Snowman quilt in my sewing corner in the basement, but still work on some other quilty projects upstairs with my Janome and Featherweight. 

WH gifted me, after a little hint, with a Sewezi portable table which I absolutely adore!  

With the table,  we chose to purchase an additional insert so I can use the table with both my Pfaff and my Janome. I have already found it to be such a perfect height that my back does not get sore like it does in my sewing corner. The table is small enough to fit under the window so I can watch the world go by while I sew and is light and portable to take to a friend's, a quilt class,  or a retreat.

WH has also created a customized cutting table for me, adapted cupboards for storage, and added even more open shelving to the closet so I can store so much more.  Since I took the picture, he has raised the cutting table seven inches higher, a much better height for me.

So as you can imagine, I am having lots of fun in my two sewing rooms. Hope you are enjoying the New Year as much as I am!

It's a great day for quilting!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

IMO, The Best Christmas Cookies You Will Ever Eat

Yes, I know I told you I was taking a break from Blogland, but while I was making my annual batch of Andes Candies Cookies today, I thought it would be a wonderful recipe to share with you! I started making these about 20 years ago. The recipe, which I found in a magazine, produces a yummy, soft, chocolate chewy cookie with a hint of mint!  The recipe called for peppermint wafers and I wasn't sure what they meant, so I found a box of Andes Creme de Menthe Thins, used them, and have never looked back. 

Over the years, I have gifted many batches of these favorites and the recipients always ask for the recipe after they have tried them....so trust me...these are that good that you can never eat just one! Many of my friends, and even my children's friends,  now make the same cookies every year as part of their Christmas traditions. Of course, they always look better on a Santa plate!



I bought the Andes candies this year at the local grocery store, but they are also available at our dollar store. They are a seasonal candy and over the past years, I have found them during the Christmas season at Shoppers Drug, Canadian Tire, and department stores. I would imagine any mint wafer would work just as well.

Here is the recipe. 

Chocolate Mints-Andes Candies Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen.
350 degrees for 12-13 minutes.

3/4 cup margarine.
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
2 cups chocolate chips. I always use Hersheys Semi-sweet Chipits.
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 packages Andes Creme de Menthe Thins



Before I start the cookies, I prepare the mints. I unwrap them and divide them in two bowls.

One bowl has mints that have been shaved with a potato peeler to create little swirls.



The other bowl has unwrapped candies cut into thirds and the bits and pieces that were too small to shave.

Heat margarine, sugar and water in large saucepan over low heat until margarine melts.

Add Chipits, stirring until partially melted.  Remove from heat and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted.

Pour into large mixer bowl and let stand about 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Beat in eggs, 1 at a time.

Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating just until blended. Batter will be very, very thick!



Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with foil.

Scoop out a teaspoon of cookie dough per cookie and roll into a ball. The cookie dough will have the consistency of soft fudge.





I usually cook mine for the full 13 minutes. They will be cracked when they come out of the oven. I leave them on the cookie sheet while I "ice" them with the Andes mints. I place a 1/3 of a mint on each hot cookie. 



Let soften and use a fork to swirl the melted mint. Decorate with shaved swirls.

  
The magazine said that each cookie is 100 calories, but I dare you to eat just one!

If you would rather print out the recipe rather than follow along on your computer, just send me an email at lcarruthers3@gmail.com and I'll email you the recipe. 

I turned off my comments so you would have more time in the kitchen!


Again a very Merry Christmas! It's a great day for quilting!