Saturday, March 22, 2014

Two Quilt Along blocks at once!

As always, nothing really went according to plan, but I need to begin at the beginning.

I asked all of you what you would like to make as the block for April and I received a different opinion from each person who offered an idea. Then, one of our quilt along friends suggested that I should make whatever represents "home" to me.

At once images of children popped into my head. Children playing, children laughing, children chasing through the house and the yard - and toys seemingly everywhere! So I made two blocks - a doll and a tricycle. These were among my favorite toys when I was growing up and they seem to represent children everywhere.

Summer, 1946. My first set of "wheels". 

Early spring 1948. My baby sister was on the way and I got a new baby of my own.
These are the two quilt blocks that came from those memories.

Back to quilt blocks and plans gone awry.

I definitely meant to make a doll and a tricycle, and that part didn't change. I also meant for these to be smaller blocks, 6" x 7". So that's the size I made. They were awfully cute. But....  Oh, my goodness, those tiny pieces were hard to position and fuse!

Time to rethink and redesign!

First attempt: As you can see, the tricycle frame and the fender wouldn't fit together right. The pedal is also looks odd.
Some of the pieces were a bit tricky to zigzag stitch around, too. And, I wasn't really impressed with the doll's dress. The colors looked bland when the appliques were attached.

So, back to the drawing board - actually the copy machine this time around, because there was no choice but to turn these into larger blocks.  I photocopied the finished blocks and cut out the pattern pieces for templates, then I enlarged the pieces onto cardstock and cut them out to make new templates.

A little fiddling with placement, two sunflowers instead of one, and the blocks were redesigned to fit into 10" squares. So much easier to manipulate and sew, nicely user friendly.

This is how the original 6" x 7" block and the new 10" x 10" block compare in size. Quite a difference, isn't it?

I suppose I can use the smaller blocks to make a pair of mug rugs someday. When I find time.

Today's the Day!
Movers are showing up in an hour or two to pick up my twin beds and take them to my daughter's house. Then I will run over to help her with her moving and come home in the afternoon to work on sorting out my new sewing room. Lot's of my "stuff" will remain in the former sewing room, now known as "the office", so I'll be able to spread out a bit more.

This is what my downstairs rooms looked like yesterday afternoon.

The former bedroom and future sewing room.

The old sewing room and future office.

"Stuff" piled in my family room that will need to find a home. 

So excited!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Some days are just plain crazy!

Omigosh! This whole week has been a little bit insane around my house, and it's going to continue for awhile.

Today, for example, I've washed three loads of laundry, organized fabrics, placed and ironed templates onto 2 quilt blocks and a mug rug, and baked two batches of biscotti. It's only 1:15 in the afternoon, and the rest of the day looks to be filled with sewing. And writing this blog.

Why two batches? Who knows. Maybe because I had a huge bag of almonds?

Here's the recipe if you're interested. I absolutely love the crunch and the citrus flavor.  It's "almost Italian" because I've added an ingredient not found in traditional recipes. My addition keeps the biscotti crunchy, but it isn't hard as a rock like most biscotti.

Zesty "Almost Italian" Biscotti

1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup whole unblanched almonds

Beat sugar and butter together until creamy. Beat in eggs, extracts, and orange zest. Mix together flour and baking powder. Add to the batter and beat until well blended. Stir in the nuts. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour (Can be kept up to 3 days). 
Shape the dough into 2 rolls about 10 inches long, and 2 inches wide. Flatten to 1 1/2 inches thick and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350°  for 20 to 25 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and cool slightly.

Transfer baked rolls to a cutting board and slice diagonally into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Arrange, cut side down, on the baking sheet and return to the oven. Bake an additional 8 – 10 minutes on each side to toast. Cool on wire racks.

On to other things. The new California baby has arrived! I haven't seen photos yet, but everyone says she's beautiful, just like her big brother and her big sister, with a full head of glossy black hair. So my package is off. It went our yesterday. This time around it was all baby blankets. I sent these four. 
A simple little fleecy blanket with satin binding.

The soft flannel doggy blanket from my "Doggy in the Window" pattern. 
I often crochet in the evenings. It's so relaxing and I can do while watching television or carrying on a conversation with my hubby. As a result, two crocheted blankets were in the package. (And I have more, both finished and in the works. I'm always prepared when a baby shows up.)

A lovely, soft, crocodile stitch blanket.This one took forever! The pattern is free from Bernat. You can find it through this link:

This is "Wee Ones" from Churchmouse. My daughter bought the pattern and shared it with me, so I don't have a web address.

That's just the easy stuff. I told you that there will be changes coming to my guest bedroom and my sewing room. Here's the scoop. I need more sewing space. My daughter is moving and needs more beds. We almost never use the guest bedroom and it's larger than the shared office/sewing room that I now have. So.... I won't have a guest bedroom, but I'll have a roomier sewing room, my hubby will be able to work without tripping over sewing, and my daughter gets a pair of twin beds. It's a win-win-win.

Furniture moves next weekend, and it's been a busy week. We've gone through everything in both rooms, organized "stuff", taken things off to the City Mission, hauled things out to the trash, and generally turned the downstairs upside down and inside out. Oh, and I've made a couple of fun purchases. Eventually we'll likely get a hide-a-bed, but for now we're just fine.

Nothing will be exactly right overnight. It will take a long time, I'm sure,  but I'll post photos of the progress from time to time.

That's it for now. Quilt along pattern blocks are calling my name! 


Gotta run!