Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Splendid Sampler Gallery and Peanut Butter Cookies

I'm the only one sharing Splendid Sampler photos this week, so I've added the recipe for yummy peanut butter cookies to the end of this post

The Gallery

In spite of the new pattern and working on my second purse, I actually managed to keep up this week! Three new blocks have joined my collection. One of them was even a bonus block. 

Block 13, "Scrap Stars", is one of my very favorites so far. Once again I had to face those itty-bitty pieces that plague me. I did cheat a tiny bit and used paper foundation piecing for the flying geese to get my points precise. I managed the rest of it the old-fasioned way. the combined techniques worked well for me. 

I loved Pat Sloan's bonus block! It's simple and elegant. With no tiny triangles to make, the piecing was quick and  easy. The designers have thoughtfully balanced the tricky blocks with quick and easy ones.

"Flying High", block 14 appeared in my inbox Thursday morning. The birds are beautiful, but they almost did me in. I was determined to applique these three silhouettes by hand. I've never been successful with hand applique, but everyone says that it only takes practice. I ruined the first three birds with needle turn applique. I'm not a quitter, and I wasn't about to give up so easily. I got out the freezer paper. This is supposed to be surefire. 

Forty-five minutes later another three birds hit the trash. By now half the morning had gone by, six birds were headed for the landfill, and one 7" square of background fabric was beyond repair. I gave up. I got out the fusible web and whipped those babies onto a background in no time.  Thank you, my trusty machine blanket stitch.You never let me down.

After all of that I went upstairs and baked a batch of peanut butter cookies. I ate two cookies while they were still warm. They were delicious, and I'd earned them.

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies


1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Cream the butter for 2 minutes. Add the sugars, cream for 2 more minutes. Mix in the peanut butter and egg. Mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into the sugar butter mixture.
2 Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
peanut-butter-cookie-2.jpg peanut-butter-cookie-3.jpg
3 Preheat oven to 375°F. Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten in crisscross pattern with a fork. 
*4. Bake until light brown, 9 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for a minute; transfer to rack to cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
For chewier cookies, bake at 300°F for 15 minutes.

*Note: After 10 minutes my cookies were still slightly uncooked in the middle. I gave them the full 15 minutes, and they were perfect. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Summer Purse: Part 2, All the Pieces, and a New Pocket Design

I am loving this bag! I like everything about it from the front pocket to the details of the inside lining.   It's a good pattern. Along with compliments I'm being asked where I bought it. Giggle...
I want to share the entire construction process with you, even the recessed zipper but I didn't get every photo I needed when I made the bag. That leaves me no choice. I have to make a second purse. So I can take photos of everything along the way. Besides, there is no such thing as owning too many pretty bags.

I'll be trying to post a new blog for each sewing session I have on the second bag. I'll try to get one or two posts up each week until the purse is finished.

The New Pocket Design
"Summer Swallow" - quilt block, mug rug, purse pocket
The new purse is identical almost every way. Measurements and construction are exactly the same. The fabric is different, of course, but there's also a new design on the pocket. Now my purses will look entirely different from each other. The Summer Swallow pattern is available here, in my Craftsy pattern shop.

In Part 1, we made the front pocket section. It was trimmed to a 10" x 10" square.

10" x 10" Hexi pocket section                                   10" x 10" Summer Swallow pocket section
For the Summer Swallow pocket I had to make one change. Because the quilting lines are so close together, I did the quilting before sewing on the pocket lining.

Prepare the body of the bag, front, back, sides, and bottom.

Cut these pieces from your fabric. Cut identical pieces from your bag batting. I prefer Soft and Stable for making bags.

Pieces are larger than needed and will be trimmed back later.

Note: All seam allowances are 1/2" unless otherwise specified.

Assemble the bag front.

1. Use quilt basting spray to hold the fabric for the front panels to the bag batting. these pieces are narrow enough that quilting won't be needed.

2. Sew the side panels on either side of the front pocket section.

3. Press the seams open.

4. Trim the ends of the panels so they line up with the pocket sections. The front will be 10" x 13".

This is a strange photo. The bag really is cut straight all across. The sides lean up, so it all looks crooked.
Quilt the sections.

1. Quilt the bag back, side sections, and bottom as you like.

On the back of the hexi bag I quilted the same diamond design I had used on the pocket. On the blue bag, I stitched straight vertical lines about 5/8" apart.
The sides and bottoms of both bags are stitched with horizontal lines about 5/8" apart.

2. Square up and trim the back down to 10" x 13".
3. Trim the bag sides to 4" x 10".
4. Trim the bottom of the bag to 4" x 13"

Prepare the bottom of the bag for a plastic canvas insert.

Plastic canvas is the product I use for giving the bottoms of my bags strength and for maintaining their shape. I like the bottom to remain flat and squared off, even when filled and weighted down. The plastic canvas does a very nice job, but be sure to get the stiffest piece you can find. You will need a piece about 11" x 2 1/2".

1. Cut a piece of scrap fabric 4" x 12" for the insert.
(I used a leftover piece of my main fabric this time, but this will be hidden by the lining, so anything will do.)

2. Turn the short ends under 1/2", press and stitch down.

3. Center this fabric on the wrong side of the bag bottom and stitch the long sides in place. Use a 1/4" seam for this.

That's it for today. The pieces are ready to be put together.

Next time, we'll make the straps and assemble the bag.


"Summer Swallow": An Experiment in Thread Art

The Experiment

 It was just a thought. A bird, a swallow in blue, and a different approach to applique.


The idea of thread play and raw edge applique has intrigued me for a very long time, but I didn't have the courage to try it. That fear of failure thing can get in the way of so much. Finally, this past week, I took a deep breath and decided to just go for it. If it was disastrous, no one need ever know, but I would never find out if I didn't at least attempt something scary.

Oh, my goodness! This was so much fun! I only had to relax and let the stitching flow. Around and around the bird, I stitched, ignoring every rule of precision I'd been holding myself to. Just sew. Free motion stitching in it's most free form. As long as the bird was securely sewn to the background, the details didn't matter.

So what, if it gets a bit messy. I'm new to this, my stitches wander all over the place. Even so, if you step back just a bit, there is a lovely elegance and artistry to the finished bird.

I'm hooked!

I'd started with a 12" square of fabric, so I decided to add some more elements to the sketch. A branch, a few leaves and berries.

Prettier and prettier.

First lesson

Scribble! Your kindergarten teacher was wrong! Scribble inside the lines, outside the lines, or anywhere your crayon (or thread) may want to travel. It's all good.

Second Lesson

Practice first. Draw any shape on a scrap of fabric. Now scribble. You'll get the hang of it before long. Find you comfortable speed, relax, and stitch around your shape. Over and over. Draw another shape, and do it again.

Third Lesson

Use a sturdy stabilizer!

I used my regular stabilizer behind the bird. Even so, all of those scribbling stitches pulled the fabric in and caused horrible puckers. With lots of ironing and stretching, I finally got it smooth.

When it came time to do the branches and all, I place a medium weight, fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the background fabric, and I added the stabilizer, too. It helped so much!! When I was finished with my free motion stitching, I cut the interfacing and stabilizer away from the lines. It still needed a good press with steam, but it was so much better.

Stabilizer and interfacing cut away from the outside of the shapes.
Now, the question remained of what to do with my pretty swallow. It would look lovely as a wall hanging. A pretty border around a 10" or 11" square would do the trick nicely.

It can also be cut down to 7 1/2" x 9 1/2". That's mug rug size!

Wait a minute ... I'm making another new purse because I need more photos for the summer bag tutorial I'm writing on my blog.  I need a design that fits an 8 1/2" x 10" piece of fabric for the pocket. Problem solved! On the purse it goes.

The Pocket

A graceful, blue swallow will be singing on my bag this summer. 

The Tutorial is here on my blog:

I'm a happy, happy camper, and I'll most certainly be playing more with thread art scribbles in the future