Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hot Cuppa Cinnamon......

I suppose I've come to all this business of latte's and smoothies and all that rather late. You're all up on it already, I guess. But I thought I'd share my favorite warm, refreshing drink of the moment.

I start with my favorite mug about 1/3 full of 1% milk. You could use any milk, even....ahem.....heavy cream; but this is what I had on hand today.

Add 1/2 t. cinnamon, 3 t. sugar or Splenda, 1/4 t. vanilla and heat in the microwave for about 50 seconds until it is hot, but not boiling.

Meanwhile, make your favorite tea with about 2/3 of the amount of water you need to fill your hot sipper. I'm using a chai de-caf tea bag and I steeped it about three minutes.

When the milk is hot, froth it with a frother or a hand-held blender. My little frother runs on two AA batteries and does a great job. The milk should fluff up to about 1/3 more than when you started out.

Keep frothing until it's how you want it.

Remove the tea bag and pour the frothed milk into sipper.

Stir well.

Isn't that lovely? Just lean back, sip, and enjoy.

You can make this without any tea; with just hot milk, if you like.....and try other flavorings like almond or maple. It's wonderfully refreshing and comforting on a cool evening when the day is done.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Erin Go Bragh - Free Pattern

St. Patrick’s Day Quilted Greeting Card 
or Mug Rug

Erin Go Bragh

In the Irish, Éirinn go Brách, is used to 
express allegiance to Ireland. 
It is most often translated as "Ireland Forever". 

You will need:

6 to 8 different green print fabric scraps about 4” x 4” each
9 ½” x 6 ½” piece of pale background fabric
12” x 12” piece (approximate size) of 2-sided fusible web or freezer paper
5” x 5” scrap of red fabric  
9 ½” x 6 ½” piece of (color of your choice) backing fabric
9 ½” x 6 ½” piece of thin batting or stiff interfacing
Fray Check
Embroidery Thread or Fabric Pens

Directions (for fusible web & freezer paper):

  1. Right click on the pattern images and choose "Save Image As". Save the images in a place in "My Documents" where you can find them again. Go to the images in My Documents and double click on the file name or icon. It will open in your Windows graphics program. Uncheck "Fit to Page" and print. You can resize these on a copy machine or in a graphics program, if needed. Trace the reversed pattern pieces to the paper side of fusible web or freezer paper and cut out
  2. Place on wrong side of fabric and fuse according to directions, usually 5 to 8 seconds with a dry iron on cotton setting.
  3. Cut out pieces along the edge of the fusible; treat edges with fray check
  4. If using freezer paper, proceed as for that kind of applique’
  5. When fray check is COMPLETELY DRY, remove paper backing
  6. Fuse all the pieces to the background using the pattern as a guide for placement
  7. You may buttonhole stitch the edges by hand or machine or leave raw (Directions for "needle turn applique" may be found here.)
  8. Using the pattern, trace your St. Patrick’s Day message to the right of the shamrocks
  9. Go over the traced letters with your fabric pen or embroidery thread stem stitch
  10. Layer the pieces: batting, front (right side up), backing (right side down) and baste together
  11. Stitch all around using a ¼” seam allowance beginning at the lower right 1” above the corner and continuing, leaving a 1 ½” opening to turn the piece right side out
  12. Turn right side out and poke out all the corners carefully, finger pressing the edge; press lightly with a hot dry iron; hand quilt around the bouquet and the outside edges. You’re all done!

We hope you'll be wearin' the green on St. Patrick's Day and enjoying a lovely green drink
 on your new mug rug. Let's see now. What is your idea of a "green drink", i.e., your favorite Irish drink? Please write and tell me!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quilter's Tea - To Raise $ for Donation Quilts

Odessa Quilt Club's "Quilter's Tea"

Each year we need to raise money to buy batting for our donation quilts. Last time, our Quilter's Tea raised enough for an enormous roll of the important stuff (or stuffing).

We held it in our meeting room last time and it was so popular, we were bursting at the seams. So, this year, we opted to rent the local meeting venue, Any Occasion, on Odessa's main street across from our lovely quilt shop.

Here you can see the lovely main, big, room. We set up about 12 tables and marked them alphabetically from A to L. Each of us brought a UFO or a book, or fabric, or a pattern, or notion to donate, with a cup for each item. Each item was marked numerically as it came in with a number on the item and one on the cup.

We started at about 9:30 AM and quit about 3 PM. There were over 200 items raffled off during the day with drawings each hour or so.

Here you can see some of the items on Table D: some fabric, a pattern and a notion or two.  Each visitor bought tickets (25 cents each or 5 for a dollar). I bought more than $15 worth of tickets, not that I needed a lot of new stuff (new to me) but because I wanted to make that contribution to our guild.

After we  bought our tickets, we put our names and phone numbers on them and walked around to look at the offerings. Here are some nice books and patterns.

When we found something we liked, we put one of our tickets in the cup corresponding to the item. Sometimes, if we REALLY liked something and wanted it, we stuffed the cup with our tickets.

See that lovely block roller in the center of the picture? I won that. Our guild president made it to carry applique' blocks in while working on them. It holds quite a few blocks, keeping them clean and wrinkle-free, while you work on them. I REALLY wanted that and I was lucky enough to win it.

Table-by-table, quilt guild officers, drew names from the cups, almost hourly. Throughout the day,  lots of quilters moseyed through, looking for that special something they could not do without. The place had a busy buzz going all through the activity.

Any Occasion venue has a nice setup with a table and bar for drinks and such. We set it up with coffee and hot water (for tea, cider, cocoa) and bottled water, too. Guild members baked cookies to serve. All the food and drinks were free.

Some of us ordered in lunch and some went out for lunch. There were comfortable chairs and tables and lots of chatting going on. It was very pleasant.

 There was something for everyone. 

It took a little contemplation to see the possibilities......

.....and there were a lot of possibilities.....see that little old sewing basket on the right? I won that! So, now I have a block carrier and a sewing basket to carry around. I'm set! many of these projects can one finish in a year?

A great time was had by all, I think.

Next month:  Quilt 'Til You Wilt!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sugar Free Oatmeal Raisin Bars

Baking up a Storm....or....
Baking IN a Storm......

"The weather outside is frightful....but the fire is so if you've no place to go....let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....."   Hear the whole song as only Eydie and Steve can sing it.

Snow event after snow event have rolled through these past few days.

Baking helps keep things warm, don't you think? We had to bake a lot of cookies for the upcoming "Quilter's Tea" our guild is having on Monday, the 10th, here in Odessa. My DH is the baker in the house and he nicely made up a batch of sugar free bars for the benefit of those with no tolerance for sugar.

Don't they look yummy? They do taste really good.

Here's the recipe -

Sugar Free Oatmeal Bars

Cream together:

1/2 c. plus 6 T Butter, softened
1/2 c. Splenda Brown Sugar
1/4 c. Truvia Baking Blend (white sugar substitute)

Beat in:

2 Eggs
1 t. Vanilla

Combine in a small bowl:

1 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
1 t. Baking Soda
1 1/2 t. Cinnamon
1/2 t. Salt

Add to wet mixture, gradually, mixing slowly.

Fold in:

3 c. Rolled Oats
1 c. Raisins

Press dough into a greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

If you'd like to make cookies, instead, drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool about 1 minute before removing from sheet. Makes 4 dozen.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Making an Applique' Valentine Banner

This is our newest pattern

"Be Mine" Valentine Banner

I've been working on the sample and I thought I would share the mechanics of it all - working with 2-sided fusible web. You could use freezer paper or needle turn techniques as well. You can buy the pattern on Etsy today and download it instantly.

You can make as many heart elements as you want for the banner. Here's one completed. Hang them horizontally or vertically. Here's how to make the banner.

I made 14 hearts from red cotton in order to make seven elements for the horizontal banner. I traced them with a Frixion pen and cut them out with scissors.

I treated the edges with Fray Check. Be sure to work on a covered surface - this is a little messy. I worked on the back of a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 scrap copy paper.

Trace the shapes for the applique from the pattern onto the paper side of the fusible webbing.... this. I used a piece about 8" x 12" to make six applique figures.

Using paper scissors, cut them out. I stacked them in two stacks: one for figures which would be facing LEFT and on for figures which would be facing RIGHT.

Lay out your fabric (wrong side up) for dresses, hands, feet, bonnets on your ironing surface.....

Place the fusible web, paper side up, on the fabric and iron it down.

For WONDER UNDER, which I used, a hot iron (cotton) is best and I fused them about 8 seconds each.

Cut them out right along the edge of the fusible.

You'll want to treat the edges, although this is optional. Using Fray Check will help your banner look nicer, longer. To do that, I pinned each piece to my ironing pad through a piece of scrap paper. It looks like a bug collection!

 Then, go around each piece, carefully. NOTE: when you open your Fray Check cut only the inciest bit off the top of the nozzle, or, take the nozzle off and put a pin through from the inside out. You want it to have a very thin opening.

Let the pieces dry completely. This is important.

When they are dry, take them up, one at a time. Insert a pin into the hole made when you pinned the piece down. Only, insert the pin between the fusible and the fabric. 


Rotate the pin. It will loosen the paper from the fusing layer, which is now stuck to the back of the fabric. Lift the paper away from the fabric piece.

Soon, you'll have a stack of paper, and a stack of applique pieces with the fusing layer stuck to the wrong side of the fabric. 

The pieces will look very crisp and clean, with hard edges. Even with the fray check, though, handle them as little as possible to keep fraying from breaking out all over the place. 

Lay the fabric pieces out on the heart according to the pattern. Adjust everything to match the layout picture just so.

Using the same hot iron and 8 second timing, iron all the pieces down at once.

I made six hearts, total, like this.

Add a layer of batting to the wrong side of the heart front. Tack it down with fabric glue or run a line of basting around the edge of the batting. Don't use pins. You'll regret it, as they are such pokey little things. I prefer the thread basting although I used glue on the first one. The glue slipped. The thread did not.

If you want your banner to last a good long time, treat the edges with a button-hole or blanket stitch all around, using matching or contrasting thread. I used a little of each, according to what "felt" good.

The pink blends a little.....

....the ivory thread almost disappears and the blue emphasizes the blue in the fabric.

I used a milliner's or applique needle for the buttonhole stitching and an embroidery needle for the embroidery. The edge with the Fray Check on it is rather hard, so on small pieces, like the hand and the sleeve, where I was dealing with several hard layers, I had to put the needle straight down through and then come back up in a separate maneuver (rather than being able to take a sewing stitch from the applique piece to the background in one movement). Also, I used a 100% polyester sewing thread instead of cotton. I felt it would stand up better to the sharp edges than cotton.

Try to have as many stitches as possible go through both the fabric and the batting. The back won't show, so don't worry how it looks.

I drew the lines for the overskirt tie and the bonnet ribbon and used a stem stitch with 2 strands of floss for them.

Here's a detail of the drawing and the stitch.

Here are the two embroidered items finished.

Mark the opening on the wrong side of the front of the heart where you will begin and stop stitching to put the two sides of the heart together.

Using a fairly fine stitch, begin about an inch from the point and go all around, using a 1/4" seam allowance. I've used a contrasting thread so you can see it. Otherwise, you should try to match the fabric.

Clip the "cleavage" of the heart and all the curves, turn it inside out and give it a good pressing. Then, on to the next one. With my work schedule and home duties, I can do about one of these in a couple of hours, after the initial prep is done. Put the pieces in a ziplock bag with thread, needle, scissors and sew on the go, when a few minutes here and there present themselves.

 Happy Valentine's Day, Sisters in Stitching!