A Journal Cover: Let Your Artistic Imagination Run Free

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For years I wondered if coloring outside the lines and not following straight lines is considered art. It so happens, after reading blogs and watching videos (particularly Salley Mavor of Wee Folk Studio and The Textile blogs), I discovered there are many artists coloring outside the lines and letting their artistic imagination run free. I found this to be very refreshing. It was the inspiration I needed to experiment with various crafting supplies to make this journal cover. It is no Pablo Picasso, but it is something I created using my imagination. The idea of making a journal cover came to me after I finished making a lap quilt for my daughter’s birthday. While crafting this journal cover I imagined my daughter wrapped in her lap quilt and writing in her journal. What a lovely vision to have.

There are many basic tutorials you can use to help you make a journal cover, but I do recommend adding your own personal artistic touch. For example, maybe you have some fabric you’ve been dying to use in a project or some costume jewelry such decorative brooches, earrings, or even a necklace. Or you can incorporate some beads, buttons, ribbon, or embroidery floss. The possibilities are endless. The key here is to let your imagination run free and the rest will follow.

 

 

 

Gathering supplies. Oh the possibilities.

Gathering supplies. Oh the possibilities.

 

Use freezer paper to create my dress pattern.

Freezer paper is perfect to create a dress pattern.

A little help with the pinking sheers and I have ruffles.

A little help with the pinking sheers and I have ruffles.

 

The back ground fabric is muslin and I sketched the body with a pencil. I also shorten the sleeves on the dress.

I used a pencil to draw my model on muslin fabric. I decided to make the dress short sleeve.

 

 

 

With a little embroidery floss my girl is born

With a little embroidery floss my girl is born. I used seed beads on the front of her dress for buttons and for the necklace.

I added these cute broach pins that I found  at a thrift store, made her purse and personalize the cover with her name.

Measure your journal book to sew the fabric. Don’t forget the seam allowance. I machined embroidered the name and added lace, and two cute brooch pins that I found at a thrift store. She also has purse. The handle is made with the seed beads. To protect the beads I covered the entire front with a very thin netting.

 

 

My daughter was very happy. I will treasure the smile she gave me when she opened here gift.

My daughter was very happy. I will treasure the smile she gave me when she opened her gift.

 

I hope my little project inspires you to color outside the lines.  Don’t be afraid to use anything you desire to make your art come alive. Just let your imagination run free. I can’t wait to start my next art project. I hope you will share your art with us.

 

Quilting Stars

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A few months ago I posted a Quilting: Show and Tell blog and in this blog I shared some things I learned while doing an applique project.  I also showed a sneak peak of another quilt project I was working on called Twilight Stars from Cheryl Wall’s book “At Home With Country Quilts“. This quilt (a wedding gift for my niece and her fiancé) finally made its way to the couple in Florida and now I can share what I learned while I was making these adorable stars.

The fabric I used to piece this quilt is from Lynne Hagmeier’s KT Favorites II and Sweet Pea fabric line by Moda . This wasn’t a planned choice. It actually came together when I received some charm packs from this fabric line for a birthday gift from my dear sister. I just love pre-cuts.  After purchasing more fabric (a layer cake and a jelly roll) from this fabric line I was ready to begin cutting and piecing the quilt top. I soon learned however, the color way was not of equal parts needed for this particular design. Meaning there were more darks and mediums in the line. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a Missouri Star Quilting Co. (MSQC) tutorial featuring fabric designer Lynne Hagmeier. From this tutorial I learned that this particular fabric line was made of only 15% lights which meant I needed to purchase more fabric from this line in order to complete this quilt pattern.  This is not a bad thing, because a quilter can never have too much fabric, right? So here’s what  I learned from this project; when planning my next quilting project that includes pre-cuts I need to consider the color way within a fabric line, because having this knowledge will help me to determine how much fabric from a particular line is needed to complete the quilt design.

 

It all started with the adorable charm packs.

It all started with the adorable charm packs I received from my sister Angie. She is awesome.

 

Let the piecing begin. I cut the charm pack into strips and made strip sets to piece the sixteen patches

Let the piecing begin. I cut the charm pack into strips and made strip sets to piece the sixteen patches

 

 

Getting a closer look at the sixteen patch. I just love this fabric.

Getting a closer look at the sixteen patch. I just love this fabric.

 

I must admit this was my first layer cake purchase.

More fabric. I must admit this was my first layer cake purchase. I am hook on precuts now.

 

Notice the right corner.  Taking photos during the piecing process helped me arrange my blocks in the right order.

Something else I learned. Notice the right corner. Taking photos during the piecing process helped me arrange my blocks in the right order.

 

 

Machine quilted. That was scary. I love the piano keyboard border. The binding was done by hand. I am very pleased with the finished quilt.

Machine quilted. That was scary. I love the piano keyboard border. The binding was done by hand. I am very pleased with the finished quilt.

 

 

I had so much fun making this quilt. It has inspired to me to tackle several new projects, so I hope you will check back soon to see what’s happening in my quilting studio.  

 

Yoyo Flowers in Bloom

Flowering Yoyos

I’ve never considered myself an artist, but I do like to doodle or sketch and sometimes I surprise myself.  For this project my doodling first began on a piece of cardboard. I’m not sure why; it just did. After I stopped scribbling lines and stared at them a while it occurred to me that these rambling lines could be flower stems. I auditioned some yoyos with the stems and before I knew it a design was born.

Sketch

The next task was to transfer the design to fabric which was challenging since it was drafted on a piece of cardboard. Testing some possibilities, I discovered that muslin fabric makes a great pallet for drawing. I used a number 2 pencil to re-sketch the vines and buds.

Embroidery

I put color or life to the design with some embroidery for the vines and little buds and appliqued yoyos for the flowers. The flower box is a simple square; a solid color piece of fabric. The objective to the design was to show case the stems with their tiny buds and flowers not to overpower them with a decorative vase or large flower box.

I used DMC cotton floss to embroider the stems and buds. The fabric for the yoyos were made from Windham Fabrics a charm pack called Serena by Another Point of View. I used Clover 1-3/4 yoyo maker. Here is a tip to get a tight center. At the beginning leave a tail and when you are done stitching around  remove the yoyo maker and gently pull the tail and the other end of the thread to close the center tight and tie a knot. I added a couple of stitches to secure the closure. I read somewhere that the stitch length can also determine the size of the center closure. “The longer the stitch the tighter your yoyo center will be.”

Flower yoyos in bloom

Now to decide whether to make a wall hanging or a pillow top with my finished piece.

 

Quilting: Show and Tell

My goodness it’s been a while since my last post. I have been so busy with new projects. You know what they say, time does fly when you’re having fun. I decided to do a little show and tell of what I have been doing since my last post. I dusted off my sewing machine and got creative at quilting. Ever since I started watching Jenny Doan’s  quilting tutorials from Missouri Star Quilting Co. (MSQC’s) I have been inspired to learn more quilting techniques. Needless-to-say, my quilt bucket-list is full of quilting projects.

Many of my favorite quilting projects includes needle turn applique in the design. My latest needle turn applique project was inspired by the McCall’s Quilt Along series featuring Erin Russek ‘s applique pattern called Fancy Flowers. I really enjoyed appliqueing this project. The pattern is a great one to learn several needle turn applique techniques. The design has straight lines, points, inner curves, and outer curves. Of course, the prep work is very important to achieving perfect applique stitches. I have found there are many resources for the beginner to learn the art of needle turn applique. For example, there are many books and  YouTube has  tutorials; my favorites are Erin Russek and Jan Patick.

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Prep work.

 

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I love the fussy cut butterflies in the center of the flowers.

 

McCalls Quilt Along

It’s ready for quilting.

Besides learning needle turn applique, I have made a few lap quilts and now I have step outside the comfort zone and started piecing a larger size (70″ x 70″) quilt called Twilight Stars, a Cheryl Wall Pattern. This quilt  will be a gift to a special young lady so I will hold off on the details until I send the quilt to her this summer.

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A sneak peak of my quilting project. I love those stars.

Cooking for Diabetics: Sugar-Free Strawberry Jam Topping

Strawberry Jam

A perfect 4th of July desert topping.

The 4th  of July is a couple of days away, and most families will celebrate Independence Day grilling, barbecuing, sampling some awesome deserts and lighting the sky with fireworks. The holiday also creates challenges for diabetics which is resisting the temptation of holiday sweets. For this reason, I am always looking for diabetic friendly recipes for Randy, my better-half. I was thrilled when I stumbled upon this sugar-free strawberry jam recipe on Taste of Home, original recipe by Rita Christ of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. We tested the jam recipe on sugar-free short cake and sugar-free ice cream. It was delicious, and it was so easy to make. Oh course you can serve the jam on toast or just about anything you desire. You be the judge. Make a batch and share your thoughts. You are going to need 3 key ingredients and a container. Take a look.

Ingredients

¾ Cup of diet lemon-lime soda (I used Sprit Zero)

1 Package (.3 ounce) Sugar-free strawberry gelatin

strawberries

Fresh strawberries

1 Cup mashed fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries

1-1/2 Teaspoons lemon juice

1 Pint or 12oz  jar with lid or plastic container

Directions:

Prepare strawberries and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring soda to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly stir in gelatin until dissolved. Add strawberries and lemon juice. Pour into a canning jar, or if preferred a plastic container. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Keep refrigerate. Yields: about 28 servings give or take. Hint: If you use frozen strawberries, drain the juices after thawing the strawberries. Extra liquid could hinder the gel process.

Diabetic exchanges: 1 Free Food.

DIY: Quick And Easy Way to Make A Sundress

DIY SundressI love DIY projects, especially when they are successful. I did not plan my latest DIY project. Perhaps this is why it worked; I did not have time to over-think it. Anyway, a few months ago I purchased a cotton skirt at a local thrift store.  I love the beautiful blue floral print. The skirt had side seams with in-seam pockets, an elastic waist band, and a layered hem. Although I was not sure what I was going to do with it, I knew it was plenty fabric for any type of sewing project. Well yesterday, I finally gathered the courage to cut this skirt and repurpose it into a sundress for my daughter. I wished I had created a photo journal of the project; it would have made it easier to describe.  Nonetheless, this is what I did.

First, (after I washed and ironed the skirt) I removed the waistband and the in-seam pockets. Then I used one of my tank tops (as a pattern) to trace armholes where the pockets use to be.

Waistband and pockets

Waistband and pockets

To cut the armholes, I recommend folding the skirt in half; this way both armholes will be symmetrical.

Next, make a casing (for 1/4 inch elastic) at the top of the skirt for the front and back. You can also sew on some lace; follow the same stitch used for the casing.

Insert 1/4 elastic in the casing, careful to secure the elastic with a safety pin, (just saying) until you are ready to sew.

Finally, I added bias tape to the unfinished edges of the armholes, making the bias tape long enough to use as ties. The ties can be used to adjust the dress length. I will shorten the ties a little after my daughter tries on the dress and the length can be determined. Like magic, the skirt is now a size medium sundress.

This was a fun and easy DIY project; it took no time to make. Next time, I will “attempt” make my own bias tape and perhaps add pockets or make shoulder straps instead of ties. In case you are wondering, I did not discard the pockets or the elastic waistband. I am sure they can be repurposed into another project.  I am pleased with the outcome, and I think my daughter will love it too.

Peach Coffee Cake with Vanilla Icing

Peach Coffee CakeI could not resist purchasing some fresh peaches yesterday and as luck would have it, the weather was cooler this morning compared to the last few days, which made it a perfect time to bake a peach coffee cake.

It is believed that coffee cake originated during the 17th century and introduced to America by immigrant settlers. Most family recipes were passed down from one generation to the next; with each generation putting their own spin on the recipe by adding fruit, sour cream, or other delicious toppings. Personally, I think the spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon makes the cake a genuine coffee cake. Researching the history, I learned that the cake was more like bread typically made with yeast. However, there are different opinions as to whether the coffee cake should be dense or light and crumbly. I suppose it is a matter of preference.

This is a terrific recipe to make when entertaining guests, take to a church function, give as a gift, or whatever you choose. The smell was delightful with the aroma of brown sugar, cinnamon, and peaches lingering throughout the house. The prep time took about 30 minutes and about one hour to bake. It will last about two weeks in a sealed container. Although the original recipe did not require well-ripe peaches, I decided (after testing the recipe) that using well-ripe peaches would be better, or you could pre-cook the peaches until they are tender. I do not recommend frozen or canned peaches unless you remove all the liquid as the liquid could make the cake soggy. All-in-all I am pleased with the recipe. I will add this recipe my favorite recipe journal.

peaches

Peach topping ingredients

4 cups of diced peaches (5 or 6 large well-ripe peaches)
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1-1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
4 tbsp. flour

Directions:

Wash, peel and dice the peaches. In a large bowl, mix diced peaches, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Set aside. Follow the instructions for cake batter ingredients.

Cake batter ingredients

2 large eggs
4 tbsp. butter
1-1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Directions:

Step 1 – Prepare 9 inch springform cake pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°.
Step 2 – In a small bowl beat eggs.
Step 3 – In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla, and sour cream or yogurt. Add eggs, and mix well. Set aside.
Step 4 – In a separate medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and sugar.
Step 5 – Combine dry ingredients in with the liquid ingredients. Do not over mix. Pour into springform pan. Gently spread the mixture evenly in the pan.
Step 6 – Add the previously made peach topping, gently spread the topping evenly on the cake mix.
Step 7 – Bake in a preheated oven for 50 – 60 minutes. (Make the icing while the cake is baking)
Is it done? Test by inserting a butter knife in the cake. If the knife comes out clean, your cake is done.

Icing ingredients

1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup powder sugar
*3-6 tsp. heavy cream

Directions:

In a small bowl, mix butter, vanilla, and powder sugar. *Add heavy cream until you reach the desired texture. Hint: you want to drizzle the icing on the cake; therefore the texture should be creamy. Set the icing aside until the cake is done.  Cool cake to warm to touch and drizzle icing on the cake. Let cake cool completely before removing the spring-form pan. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8 – 10 (small to medium slices)

Canning Blackberry Jam

Suzy Mathews:

Time to share the blackberry jam recipe again.

Originally posted on Everything But The Kitchen Sink:

I like simple recipes and lately I have tried a few recipes that really deserve mentioning. Life can be complicated enough without adding to the mix. So when I find an easy recipe everyone likes I add it to my favorite recipes list. Blackberry season is in full swing here in Northwest Arkansas. This year I decided to can a few jars of jam. Canning is not something I do often, so I am off to Pinterest (my newest hangout) to search for an easy recipe. The recipe I was searching for needed to be low in sugar and of course easy to make. With a few key words and a couple clicks I found the recipe, it was easy to make. So easy that (with my lack of expertise making jams) if I can do this, anyone can. The best way to begin is to read directions carefully.For this recipe…

View original 690 more words

Rose of Sharon

Rose of SharonRose of Sharon 1

Before heading off to work yesterday morning, Randy and I took a walk around the back yard. We noticed our Rose of Sharon is in full bloom. As we got closer to the shrub we could hear the bees buzzing happily. Not missing an opportunity to practice his photography skills, Randy snap some photos using a Nikon wide angle lens. The Rose of Sharon also known as a Hibiscus syriacus, is easy to grow and an ideal shrub for the garden, because the flowers attract the bees needed for garden pollination. These hardy shrubs can get as tall as 8 to 12 feet and they do multiple quickly, so you may need to transplant the new growth. They do well in full sun and light shaded areas. The flowering shrubs come in a variety of colors; we have white and purple.

The Bird Watcher

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On occasion, our backyard is frequented by wild animals such as deer, ground hogs, possums, and of course birds. While we do not intentionally feed the animals, some never miss an opportunity to sneak a morsel of our cat’s food. Sometimes we are prepared to snap a few photos during their visit. On such a day, Randy watched a blue jay feasting on the cat food. With camera in hand, Randy photographed the feasting in action.

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