Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quilting With Fourth Graders

This year I am the room parent for my son's 4th grade class, which also meant that I was in charge of coordinating the class art project for the school's annual auction. So this is what a group of very enthusiastic 9- and 10-year-olds created:


We started with a layer cake. This was one I had in my stash, one of Aneela Hooey's early collections called Sherbet Pips. We then took 5-6 squares at a time and cut them into strips of various lengths of 2 to 4 inches. The kids then selected three different prints and sewed them together. It was a great project for novice quilters, as there was no concern about keeping a quarter-inch seam allowance (or sewing a straight seam, for that matter). Most of the kids had never used a sewing machine before, so again, it was a very doable group project.

Each block was trimmed down to 9.5" x 6.5". We used a 5 x 8 setting, so we needed a total of 40 blocks. There were only a few strips of fabric left over at the end, so it was a great project using a layer cake. I then used 3.5" x 6.5" blocks for the sashing in between each block, and then 3.5" strips between each row.  The border also used 3.5" strips. The quilt turned out to be a relatively good-sized quilt, 63" x 75".


For the quilting, I used a longarm quilting pattern called Jade. The pattern reminds me of puffy clouds and flowers, so I thought it would add some nice texture to the white background.

These kids should be proud of their work. I think it turned out pretty spectacular! We've already had a few parents expressing interest, so hopefully the quilt will raise some funds for the school.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

DIY Laundry and Dishwasher Detergent


I have read many different posts and discussion threads about the merits of making your own laundry and dishwasher detergent, that I had to give it a try too. And yes, both detergents really work. In fact, they work really well. I can't say that  have done the math to see if making your own detergents is as cost-effective as people say, but it is kinda fun to make.  And it's satisfying in a way I can't really describe.

After trolling Pinterest, the common ingredients seemed to be borax and washing soda, with variations for laundry versus dishes. Many recipes had you using entire boxes of borax (76 oz.) and washing soda (55 oz.) at once, but I wanted to come up with recipes that I could whip up easily depending on need.  So, here is what I came up with:

LAUNDRY DETERGENT - 2 tablespoons or 1/8 cup per load

1 bar Fels-Naptha soap (grated in the small holes of a cheese grater, or pulsed in a food processor)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 cups Oxy-Clean (optional)
1-2 cups Downy Unstopables or Purex Crystals (optional)

DISHWASHER DETERGENT - 2 tablespoons or 1/8 cup per load

2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 cups citric acid
1 cup kosher salt
* use white vinegar as a rinse aid

Be sure to mix well before using, and store your detergents in an air-tight containers. As a last note, many recipes called for using only 1 tablespoon of detergent per load, which I think would work just fine. I only happen to use 2 tablespoons, because I have extra 1/8 cup measuring scoops handy.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On the needles

I've been trying to squeeze in some knitting this winter break. Knitting is great for those times when I'm with the boys and have a little free time, but can't get to my sewing machine or the cutting table.

This is Traveller's End, a cardigan pattern by Stolen Stitches. It's knitted top-down, my favorite method of construction. The collar and button band are knitted on at the end, so it's also seamless. The yarn is also lovely to work with (as with all Debbie Bliss yarn) and has a soft but substantial feel.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Printable Notecard

I'm always writing notes to the boys' teachers (yes, I'm one of those parents), and it seems that the only paper I can ever find around the house has been written on, cut up, or glued. That started me thinking, wouldn't it be nice to have notecards that were cute but not too fancy for everyday use?

So I created these little postcards to look like loose-leaf notebook paper that we used to have in school. It's printed on a sheet of 8.5" x 11" cardstock, and then cut into four. I then used a little corner punch to make the rounded corners.


Here's what the PDF looks like. You can download it here for your own personal use -- enjoy! Shoot me a comment if you end up downloading and using the postcards--it always tickles me to know if something I've made appeals to someone else!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Handmade Holidays!

For my 5-year-old niece, to whom we gifted last night on Christmas Eve.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas day. Happy Holidays!
The Louisa Dress - Pattern: Compagnie M; Fabric: Up Up & Away by Skinny laMinx for Cloud 9 Fabrics.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Block 2 - Dutchman's Puzzle

Block 2 - Dutchman's Puzzle
Block 2 - Dutchman's Puzzle
The Dutchman's Puzzle has always had a certain appeal for me, but I haven't had the opportunity to make one up until now.  I was fooled by its simple, clean lines.  It actually takes a bit of focus and precision.  It's all flying geese and triangle points that have to be lined up just so.

Anyhow, I love this block.  It's the second block in my 16" block sampler series.  If you would like to read more about the sampler, my first first post about the sampler is here. If you would like to sew along with me, you can download instructions for the first block (X-Quartet) and this block by clicking on the following links:

Block 1 - X-Quartet
Block 2 - Dutchman's Puzzle


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Over-Sized Four/Eight Grid Sampler Blocks

X-Quartet
Fabric: Shelburne Falls by Denyse Schmidt
X-Quartet
I started working on a new sampler quilt. The blocks are based on blocks from Judy Hopkin's 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks. My plan is to make between 12 to 16 blocks and end up with a queen-sized sampler quilt.  In order to make a quilt this large with a relatively modest number of blocks, I'm super-sizing the blocks I'm using to 16 inches. Anything beyond simple math befuddles me, so I stuck to 4 and 8-grid blocks, because they translate easily into 16-inch blocks.

So this is the first block, X-Quartet. I'm using Denyse Schmidt's Shelburne Falls, and I've roughly calculated needing 10-12 fat quarters, plus about 2.5-3 yards of a background solid, for all the blocks. I haven't decided about the sashing and border(s) yet, but I have a rough idea of what I want to do. But I still need to do the math (ugh) to figure out yardages. 

If you are interested in directions for the block, I've created a PDF with fabric requirements and cutting and piecing instructions.  You can download the PDF here.