Virtual Quilting Bees

June 2, 2010

I am now in 4 virtual quilting bees!  One is wrapping up in the next couple of months and I will probably not rejoin so I can spend more time on the other 3 bees and the many projects I need to get started/work on.  I also started a virtual quilting bee with my modern quilt guild. I’ve had the chance to make some fun blocks recently using some different techniques so it’s been fun working on all of them.   I still need to finish one bee’s May blocks, I am hoping to get them done today so I can get them in the mail because I am late again!  I think I will be late less when I am not in so many bees.

In April’s Block Swap bee, Paloma wanted tiny random scraps on a white background.  I added a lot of my own fabric scraps, and pieced the blocks improvisationally – one log cabin style, the other just strips.  I like the log cabin one better.

The Block Swap April Block 1

The Block Swap April Block 2

The blocks by themselves don’t really look like much, but you can see how the quilt is coming together here.

For the Bee Pieceful bee, I got to make some old fashioned quilt blocks, one is called shoofly and the other is called churn dash.  It was interesting to use these classic patterns.  I think that they could look very modern depending on the fabric choices.

Bee Pieceful April Block 1

Bee Pieceful April Block 2

For Bee Pieceful May, Andrea wanted wonky stars, which I love to do!

May Bee Pieceful Block 1

May Bee Pieceful Block 2

That’s all I’ve been working on sewing-wise lately.  Next post I will show you the blocks I have received from two of my virtual bees.  They are gorgeous.  I am lucky to be in groups with such talented and creative sewists!

Virtual Quilting Bees

March 29, 2010

I’ve been mostly working on blocks for my assorted virtual quilting bees lately…I just signed up for another!  I’m first in the new bee, so I need to figure out what I’m going to send and what kind of blocks I want so I can get the fabric in the mail by April 15th.   It’s fun to get the mail when I’m doing bees.  I do have a top-secret project in the works, but it will be a long time before anyone gets to see it.  But for now here are some of the blocks I have made for others with their fabric in the bees that I am in.

The Block Swap March Block 1

The Block Swap March Block 2

The Block Swap February

Bee Pieceful February Block 1

Bee Pieceful February Block 2

March was my month to get blocks in my Bee Pieceful group.  They are amazing!  Check them out:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/antijamsect/galleries/72157623728515632/

I haven’t gotten blocks back from everyone yet, but the ones that I have received are beautiful.  I love what they did with the fabrics I sent.

Maybe I should have made my resolution to be more consistent in updating my blog.  I had to take an extended mental leave of absence – the last two months have been so overwhelming.  I have been doing a lot of crafty things while I’ve been away.  Let me show you some:

Terrariums:

I went to this art fair in Irvington at the Benton house a while ago with my friend Jess and while we were there, we went into the conservatory.  I love plants.  They were selling all sorts of interesting little plants, and while I was looking at all of them, I came across this domed glass container.  It was dirty and rust stained, but I knew it would make an awesome terrarium.  I’m not sure what exactly it’s original purpose was.  So, I picked it up and bought some plants – all succulents.  When I went on the internet I found out you can’t keep succulents in a closed terrarium because it is too humid for them.  Oops!  So then I scavenged some containers I had around the house and made two desert terrariums, and got some new plants to go under the dome, I went with a more ferny, mossy, woodsy style in that container.  I love how they turned out.  I added a little ceramic good luck pig from Chile that I got a while ago to my domed terrarium.  Here’s a better picture with the dome off, since there was a lot of glare on the glass.

When I have time, I would like to go looking for some more cool glass containers and make some more.  I will have to start giving them away, because I don’t have enough flat surfaces to display them all.

I like how domed terrariums have an old fashioned-ness about them, and I like seeing the strata of organic materials in the clear glass.  You can pretty much make them in anything – jars, glass ornaments – and there is lots of inspiration on the internet.

Christmas Treats:

I went a little crazy this year with the holiday baking.  I just really love making cute stuff.  Edible cute stuff – even better!  I don’t have a sweet tooth, but cookies and candy are about the most fun thing to make.  I made so much stuff, I mailed boxes of treats to a few friends, and gave boxes to ones locally.  I still had a ton left over to bring home for Christmas.  My cousins’ kids were happy – no one else made cookies this year!

Some of the cute things I made this year.

Unfortunately, it is not easy for my to photograph what I am making when my hands were constantly covered in sugar and flour, so not everything got it’s picture taken.  That box has quite a few though.  There’s chocolate cherry mice, chocolate covered pretzels, sugar cookies (tree and snowflake), cornflake wreaths, plain ol’ chocolate chip cookies, and potato candy.

Yes, potato candy!  It’s very rich and sweet.  My dad was talking about how his grandma used to make it every year when he was a kid.  I made a mental note to try making it, and I surprised him when I came home for Christmas.  It’s easy – 3 ingredients – a potato, 2lbs of powdered sugar, and peanut butter (creamy).

mashed potato

Boil and mash a small potato (trust me, a 1/2 c. of potato makes a ton of this candy).

potato - sugar chemical reaction

Now take the HOT mashed potato and put it in a mixing bowl.  Add sugar a little at a time.  I don’t know why but when you first add the sugar, it liquefies to potato and you get this strange colored, glue – like mess.  Don’t worry – just keep adding sugar and stirring.  You will get a ball of white “dough” that is play-doh consistancy.  Split it in half and put one half between two sheets of wax paper to roll out.

ready for pb

You need to work fast.  You have to get this done before the dough gets too hard to roll.  Roll out to about a 1/4″ thickness.  Looking back, you should probably make it shaped like a rectangle, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time because it was the first time I did this, and really didn’t know what I was doing.

the hardest part.

Now, spread your candy with a thin layer of PB.  If there is too much PB, then it all squishes out the ends when you roll it.  Take the bottom piece of wax paper, and use it to help you roll it up.  Its kindof like doing sushi, if you’ve ever made that.  Take your log and wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for it to firm up.  Repeat with the other ball of dough.  Then you can cut it into slices and enjoy!

finished candy

I also made some cornflake wreaths. During that same conversation with my dad, my brother said his favorite Christmas cookie was a cornflake wreath.  After my inital “seriously?! WTF” reaction, I decided to surprise him as well.

It’s basically a rice krispy treat with cornflakes instead of krispies and lots of green food coloring.  This is another beat the clock recipe, because you have to get them all made, shaped and the candy “berries” stuck on before it cools and they wont stick anymore.   I think help from a friend would make this a lot easier.

I also made some old fashioned sugar cookies.  I think they tasted better than the frosted ones.

I also made some marshmallows and dipped them in chocolate.  I dont have any pictures with them dipped.  Marshmallows are really easy to make if you have a kitchenaid mixer.   Once you get everything together, you have to beat it on the highest speed for 10 minutes.

just beat it

Pour it in a greased glass pan, let it sit overnight, and the next day turn it out and slice.  I used a pizza cutter, it worked really well.

marshmallow mountain

one 9×13″ pan makes about 50 1.5″ square marshmallows.  roll them in powdered sugar so they wont be sticky.  Quick side rant:  I went to the Indy Winter Farmer’s market last week and they had a new vendor there selling nothing but marshmallows.  Apparently they got a best of Indy award from Indianapolis Monthly magazine for best artisan marshmallows.  They were giving free samples so I tried one.  Mine were WAY better.  WAYYYYY better.  Granted theirs were flavored, and I just made vanilla, but flavoring cant change the marshmallows that much!  They were just really dry and chewy and looked really ugly.  They were all lumpy and uneven and ugly dull colors.  Mine are relatively square, bouncy, light and fluffy.  Anyway, I couldn’t believe these people were charging 3 dollars for 4 of their crappy marshmallows.  And people were buying them!  I called my mom and ranted to her (like I am now)…she said I should start selling my candy.  Coming from my mom, who can find something wrong with anything, that is a huge compliment about my candymaking skills.  That gave me a lot of confidence I can do this.  Next year.  I swear.  I will be at that Winter Farmer’s Market, and I will be selling my marshmallows!  And other candy.  I am really into this idea.  I like sewing, but not for profit.  I tried and wasn’t that successful, because the time and expense of making sewn goods rarely makes it profitable to sell.  Non-crafty people don’t realize the amount of time and skill and money it takes to make really nice baby quilts or cute bibs from imported japanese fabric or designer fabric from someone like Heather Ross.  With candy, it’s relatively cheap to make, even if you are using all organic ingredients, and you can make a large amount in a comparatively short amount of time.  And people don’t think about spending a couple bucks impulsively, whereas they are going to think long and hard about spending 75 or 100 bucks on a handmade quilt.  I think I can do this and be successful. And I have like 8 months until the next season of the winter farmer’s market to practice and plan.  I am really excited about this right now.  You may be seeing a lot more candy making in my blog in the near future.

I should have blogged about all this Christmas baking when it was actually Christmastime, but maybe it will inspire someone to try something new next year.  And I like posting pictures!

Sewing:

I FINALLY finished my poor bee member’s blocks for November.  I am ashamed! They were sent out the Monday before Christmas.  I am happy with them, it was my first time paper piecing.  I liked the technique, I will have to try it again.

I still need to finish my Dec. blocks.  I have one done, but I am only halfway done with the other one.   Then January!  I will finally catch up this month.  I need to start thinking about what I want to send out…my month is coming up in March.  I am really looking forward to seeing everyone else’s blocks with my fabric.

I also made a reversable quilted tote bag for my mom for Christmas, but I forgot to take any pictures of it.  It turned out pretty well, considering I didn’t have instructions on how to finish what we started in the class I took!

So Happy New Year everyone, I hope you had a nice holiday season.  Let’s see if I can keep that blog writing resolution!

October Bee Pieceful Blocks

October 23, 2009

Poinsettia Block

Poinsettia Block

Morning Star Block

Morning Star Block

I mailed these out on Monday to this month’s bee, Kim.  She sent us Christmas fabric and asked for “traditional” blocks.  I looked around online and settled on these two patterns, Morning Star and Poinsettia.   I think I have finally gotten over my mental block about this virtual quilting bee – I think you are able to see the  vast improvement I’ve made over August and September’s blocks.  The seams and points all line up (almost) :).  But where they don’t it is not that obvious.  I like how I arranged the fabrics, and for the first time in this bee, I was happy to send these out.  Hopefully I will be able to keep it up.  Next month’s fabric is going to be sent soon, and she wants string piecing, something else I have not tried yet.  I want to get it done as quickly as possible, so I can send it back before I move.

I am moving!  I finally found a new apartment that has almost everything I wanted, and its only about 1/4 mile from where I am living now!  I finally got lucky, I had almost given up because I had been looking since May. It is a duplex in a neat little neighborhood called Cottage Home, and has a really cool loft area that I am going to make my sewing room.  I can’t wait to move in and get settled.  Moving Day is only a few weeks away.  I’m moving on Friday the 13th!

After next month’s quilt block, I only have one more project I need to get done before the move.  It’s the Poky Puppy quilt my mom wanted me to make for her.   I will have to post about that later.

on point

October 16, 2009

I just wanted to share this.  Its one piece of a block I am doing for this month’s bee.  The points match!  I’m glad I am getting better at this.  Lets see if this block will be the one where all the seams line up for once.

Bee Pieceful October Block

October 6, 2009

I also managed to get my block done for my virtual quilting bee.  This month’s bee wanted stars, any way we wanted to do them, as long as they were stars.  I decided to do a maverick star, because after the disaster of trying to do triangles in last months block (which I still feel horrible about), I thought this would be the best way for me to do something that would turn out halfway decent.

my wonky star

my wonky star

As you can see I still messed up matching a seam in the upper left hand corner.  But it is still definitely better than my last one, so I will give myself credit for that.  It’s just so hard when everyone else can do these beautiful and complex blocks, and I’m struggling in the proverbial kiddie pool.  I had been watching the bees before I decided to join ones, and the blocks I saw in the pools made me feel like it was something I could do to improve my skills but within a group of people who were entry level to intermediate ability.  Somehow I ended up in a group of super-quilters.  I feel so bad, because even if this block is an improvement for me, and looks pretty ok, I go to add it in the pool and look at what everyone else has done…I hate being the weakest link.  Maybe next time around, I’ll find a group that makes me feel less inadequate.

deer valley project

August 25, 2009

keeping blocks in order

keeping blocks in order

This is the start to the wedding gift for my cousin who requested something “maroon”.  I’m using the persimmon colorway of Joel Dewberry’s Deer Valley line and Oh Fransson’s mixtape quilt tutorial.  I am really like how this arrangement really shows off the fabrics.  I am using a neutral (not white!) sashing, and I think it really brings everything together.  I’m excited to finish this top.  Its outside my normal color choices, so it has been a fun challenge trying to get it all to work.  I pinned the blocks up to keep them in order, and also to give me some perspective, it really helps!  My “design wall” is actually just my living room wall, between the couch and my sewing area.  I need a bigger place to live so my sewing stuff can have its own room!

Closeup

Closeup