Monday, September 29, 2014

It's a top!

This is probably the last you'll see of this quilt for a couple of months. It's my Sunday quilt, just for me, not for money, so I pretty much only work on it on Sundays.

I plan on doing some pretty dense quilting, so it will probably take a while. I love the variety of blocks you can get with this pattern!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

I recently made peach vanilla bean jam, and as it was so popular I've decided to post the recipe here. 
I used my standard jam recipe and thought as I was preparing the fruit that the floral vanilla might complement the peaches. I also substituted honey for part of the sugar, since honey and peaches are a favorite combination of mine. I often serve honey-vanilla whipped cream with peach desserts.


Vanilla Beans

1. You may have noticed that there are no measurements. That is because I use a ratio for making jam, rather than a normal recipe. Begin by peeling, pitting and chopping your fruit. Weigh the prepared fruit.

2. Put the fruit in a large heavy pot. Add 75% that amount in sugar, with some as honey if desired. Add lemon juice (I use 1/2 lemon for every pound of fruit)

3. If you are a scum skimmer, wait to add the vanilla beans until after the scum is gone (if you don't, you'll scrape away the vanilla specks!) If you are lazy like I am, split and scrape your beans and add to the peaches. I like to keep the pods in while cooking for extra vanilla flavor. I used 3 beans for a 2 pound recipe, but you can use less if you prefer.

4. Put the pot over medium heat, and stirring occasionally (more as it cooks down) cook until the mixture reaches 220F on a candy thermometer. (If you are significantly above sea-level, check your thermometer by placing in a pan of boiling water. Check what the temperature is, and if it is below 212F, subtract the amount below 212F your water is boiling at from the 220F. Hope that isn't too confusing;) If you like a smoother jam, mash your fruit with a potato masher throughout the cooking.

5. While your jam is cooking, clean your bottles and rings in very hot water. I like to rinse and leave them in the hot water until I'm ready for them. When the jam reaches about 215F, put the lids into hot water

6. As soon as your jam reaches 220F, remove from heat. Pour into the hot bottles, wipe the threads clean with a wet cloth, top with lids and rings.

7. I process my jam in boiling water, 5 minutes for 1/2 pints and 10 minutes for full pints. Make sure your lids all "pop" down and tight. If they don't pop within a few minutes of removing them from the boiling water, process some more, making sure the water covers the top of the bottle.

This "recipe" works with just about any kind of fruit, and is easy to adapt to your tastes. Experiment with combinations, I like nectarines with blackberries, blueberries with lemon zest, strawberries with ginger (peeled and sliced, pull out before bottling!), and raspberry with lime zest and juice. Whole spices such as cinnamon and cloves are great in cranberry jam (use 1:1 ratio for sugar!) with orange juice and zest, chopped herbs can be lovely added at the end of cooking; blackberry with lemon verbena, or strawberry with basil are great combos.

I'm not really a recipe writer, so if anything is confusing, just ask and I'll try to clarify!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The GIANT Plaid Quilt

This quilt was commissioned by my boss for his mother.  It is made of his father's flannel shirts and will be a gift for his mother. This quilt is quite large, 80x96"(I think it's the largest I've quilted on my machine). The top is 10" squares (the shirts were HUGE! 3XL) set on point with red sashing.  It is backed with navy fleece to be extra cuddly, with a stripe of plaid squares pieced into it. I quilted it sparingly so the pockets would still be open, and went with straight lines either side of the lattice sashing to keep the masculine feel and to create a plaid-type design on the backing fleece. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hawaiian Applique

Hawaiian applique is usually made with just two fabrics, one appliqued on top of the other, with a circular repeating pattern. Usually the patterns are organic, representing leaves, flowers, or animals. I decided to try my own updated version of Hawaiian Applique with a completely rigid and geometric pattern. I needle-turn appliqued the design onto the background fabric and then simply echo quilted it. The quilt is quite small, only 24" square.

 I decided to do simple echo quilting because I wanted emphasize the shape of the applique. Once again, I like the back as much as the front!

Here's a detail view of the front. It doesn't really match my decor, but it has a new home above my bed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hexagon Stripes Quilt

I recently finished what is probably my new favorite quilt. It's nearly twin sized, with a navy blue minky back. This is the first blue quilt I've made, which is surprising as blue has been my favorite color for at least the past 25 years. There were a lot of firsts in this quilt; it was my first experience with English Paper Piecing, the first time attempting hand applique (which it turns out I LOVE, look for more hand applique to come!) my first time quilting anything larger than a throw, the first time I used 505 spray baste, my first minky back, and my first time using silicone to reduce friction on my SewSteady table (minky is fuzzy and likes to stick, I used a dimethicone gel because I already had it, but many quilters recommend Sprayway 946 silicone spray).

The blue hexagons are cut from shirts that belonged to my grandfather. The red, grays, and whites are scraps from other projects, and the red silk with the three-legged-llama-dogs are from a tie that my brother got as a gift. The hexagons were thread basted to paper patterns, then whip stitched together into the stripes, thread basted to the gray fabric (a brushed cotton bed sheet from Target) then appliqued. I then spray basted the top, batting (my usual Warm and White) and minky, rolled it up and started quilting. The quilting on this one was kinda crazy, the echoes are a 1" zigzag, which means quilt an inch, stop, lift, pivot, repeat. I marked the peaks and valleys of the hexagons before quilting, which made it easy to eyeball the distance from the previous row of stitches.

Binding the minky made me nervous, so I ran it through my serger after I squared it up. I auditioned a few bindings, and wasn't really happy with any of them, so I asked my sister. Katie suggested red, so I went digging in the stash (it's in milk crates under the bed) and found this red solid. I don't know what it is, but it was the perfect color for this project.

It is by far the cuddliest quilt I've ever made. Something about the minky makes it drape so wonderfully. Any other quilt I've made with this much quilting has been so much stiffer than this. In the week since it's been done I think I've found Katie snuggled with it almost every day, unless I get to it first!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

First Finish of 2014

Last Saturday, my sister and I went to Target and saw all the Valentine's Day decorations. I immediately wanted to make a pink sparkly quilt, so I went home and made one. I used fabric from Tailored by Annette Tatum mixed with several pink and aqua bits I had under the bed.

I backed it with pink penguin flannel and quilted it with hearts and wavy lines. It's fun and cozy.

I stopped at the library to take pictures of the quilt yesterday and finally got pictures of my Christmas quilt and Katie's 12 Days quilt.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sunnyside Cookies

Yesterday was my sister's birthday so I had to send cookies! (of course). She and I are both fans of fabric designer Kate Spain, especially Sunnyside (and all the Christmas collections!). She sent me Sunnyside fabric for Christmas, so I made matching cookies for her birthday.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Quilts

If you just looked at the blog, you might think I didn't finish many quilts this year, but you would be wrong. Turns out I wasn't good a documenting quilts as I finished them. Here are a few, there are a couple more I don't have pictures of yet, but that's a goal for the new year: document my quilts (also, put labels on the backs)

The next quilt I started was made using this pattern by Camille Roskelley. The quilt isn't finished (a project for 2014!) mostly because it's massive. The matching pillows are finished with straight line and pebble quilting. I decided to try free-motion quilting last year, and will continue to work on that this year. So far these pebbles are the only project I've free-motion quilted.

There are two of the 14" Lucky Pillows with straight-line quilting

but only one 16" Lucky pillow with pebble quilting
 My next project was a Christmas quilt for my sister. I might have to call 2013 the year of the Christmas Quilt, since I finished three and started two more!

Katie's Christmas quilt featured a panel from an older Kate Spain Christmas collection. The majority of the blocks were a paper-pieced block called Arabic Lattice. This was a really fun block to piece. To make the quilt easier on the eyes I put borders on all the blocks. The back is the red floral print and is bound with a white-on-white swiss dot.
This is the blocks laid out to assemble the top

Next I finished a project I'd started a few years ago, one of the first quilts I started, and the only one to sit in pieces in a box while I worked on other quilts. The original blocks were poorly done, with uneven seams, poorly sewn bias seams, etc. It was overly ambitious for my skill level at the time, but with a lot more practice and even more study I decided it was time to take them out of the box and have another look. I ended up cutting them into triangles and re-assembling them. One I put the new blocks together I liked it.

I quilted with diagonal lines of various widths.

It moved to my mother's house at Christmas, and her furry friends seem to like it alright.

My next quilt finish is not my usual style (very little white!) but is a very happy quilt. The fabrics are Riley Blake and were provided to me by the Modern Quilt Guild for the MQG Riley Blake Challenge. The challenge rules allowed the addition of more Riley Blake prints or solids from any source. I added a second fat eighth of each of the challenge prints as well as Kona White and Michael Miller Orange. I backed the quilt with really fun fabric from Technicolor by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller (not challenge approved, but I went looking for fabric for the back and sashing after I had cut the tumblers, so I couldn't not pick it! 

I quilted it with circles I traced from dishes and candles. I stitched over the lines using my walking foot. It's the happiest quilt and I think it might be my most favorite quilt ever (so far) I finished it Thanksgiving weekend.

As soon as the happy quilt was done I pulled out some red and white fabrics I'd had for a while to make another Christmas quilt. I don't have pictures of it, but I did finish matching pillows as well. It's a standard star block made with squares and half-square triangles. 

I finished it about a week before I left for California for Christmas with my family.