My friend Irene

Due to my good friend, Hurricane Irene, there has been a significant lack of quilting/sewing/anything relating to the use of a plug in my house for the past three days. Seeing as how I am currently "borrowing" power at the local hospital (one of the few perks of being the wife of a medical student) I do not know when I will be able to post for real again.

So 'til then folks - hope you and your love ones are dry and enjoying the benefits of working appliances.


Quilting to Help Others

One of the things I love about the online quilting community is the sense of generosity and the "give back" attitude of many people out in blogland. I love the idea that I can spend a few hours to make a quilt square or two and send it off to be made into a quilt to help so many people. There are quite a few projects going on right now that are for worthy causes that you should check out.

1. Sarah over at SoSarahSews is making two purple and pink quilts for two sisters in the foster care system. I know from working with foster children that having something to call your own is really special. The blocks that she chose are really simple and don't take much time to make at all. Head over to her blog to read about her project and sign up to make a block or two.

2.  My friend Caroline blogs at serenity quilts and is in the process of making a quilt to help raise money for cancer research. You can read more about her story here. I know many of us have been affected in some way by cancer and it's nice to be able to give back and hopefully help find a way to beat it. She is making a Hearts Appeal quilt and is asking for blocks with hearts on them. Check out her blog for more information and to see what types of designs others have come up with.

3. Rachel at Stitched in Color has organized an online quilting bee that gives back to the communities called Do.good Stitches. It is through flickr and every month people make blocks that go into a quilt so essentially you are helping to make a quilt a month for an entire year. It is a great way to make friends, expand your quilting skills and help others in the process. Check out the flickr group for more information and to sign up. Even if you don't sign up it is still an excellent source for inspiration.

4. The DC Modern Quilt Guild is sponsoring 100 Quilts for Kids. This is a great idea - you donate a baby quilt to someone in your local area from September 15 - October 14. To encourage people to participate they are offering prizes to people who donate. Check out Kate's blog for more information.

Anyway I hope that you take a moment to check out all these great projects going on right now and if you know of any other ones let me know!


Manic Monday

One of my good friends is having a baby girl soon and since I've been dying to make a plus quilt for awhile now, pushed all sensible thoughts out of my head (like how I have a ton of things to do the next few weeks) and got busy on this baby quilt. After sewing like mad this weekend while my husband studied, I managed to finally get this all ready to quilt today. Here are a few shots of the front and back...and here's hoping I manage to finish it before her shower this weekend (yikes!)

Now the question is, how to quilt it?

I'm linking up to Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Creations...be sure to go check out what everyone else has been up to


Do.Good Stitches August

For this month, Lydia asked us to make 2 blocks for her colorful houndstooth quilt. You should check out her blog - she has some examples of excellent and meticulous piecing. For some reason this block gave me a little bit of trouble and I may or may not have made half a dozen blocks in an attempt to get it right...but all the trouble was worth it in the end because this is going to be such a stunning quilt!


Sew Bee Blissful

This month is Jenna's month in the Sew Bee Blissful group that I am in. You should check out her awesome blog -- she has tons of great ideas and projects -- beware, you might lose track of time looking all all her stuff.

 This is the first month of the bee and I've been so excited to start because it is full of quilters from all over the world and I love meeting new people.

Jenna asked for double pinwheel blocks following this tutorial. It is pretty straightforward...I didn't want to ruin her lovely fabric so I made a test block for myself first...good thing too because I discovered that I might want to cut my half square triangles a bit bigger and then trim them down for perfect points.

Anyway here are the blocks I made with her wonderful fabric -- I especially like the purple fabrics. She asked for some blocks for the back of the quilt if we had any fabric left over so I made a few of those too.

All in all, I'd say the first month of this bee was a success!


A Quilty Weekend

On Friday my husband had a test in medical school which meant that he had a "free" weekend to spend lots of time with me. Of course I have a sewing to do list a mile long, so not knowing what to do with his free time (medical students don't really understand the concept of free time since they hardly have any) he offered to help me out.

First we went to the local quilt shop where we bought some beautiful fabric (efficiently I might add -- my dashing husband's idea of a perfect afternoon does not include spending hours at the quilt store)

Then we cut out of fabric while watching a movie...lots and lots of little fabric squares....

These lovely squares are then being sewn into fun blocks like so:

And then we laid out a variety of arrangements for another quilt I'm working on, and finally settled on a plan for it.

All in all it was a successful quilting weekend.


Sometimes I despise ironing

Well I have this lovely stack of half square triangles that are in desperate need of ironing. And if you ask my husband you'll quickly discover my dislike of ironing. If anyone has any tips on how to make this lovely task more bearable, I'm all ears.

Now don't mind me, I'm off to tackle the triangles.


Sewing To Do List: Week 1

I have quite a lot of quilting projects on my plate these days. Since I love lists, I thought I'd make a list of what I've been working on.

Summer Sampler Quilt. I've finished all my blocks and thanks to the advice I got from other online quilters I've finally settled on a final quilt top design. All that remains is to actually piece it, get it ready for quilting, quilt it and bind it. Yikes when I put it that way, it seems like it might be more work than anticipated.

Super Secret Quilt. I am so excited for this project and can give you a peek of my fabrics:

Citrus Sails Quilt. July was my month for the do.good.stitches inspire circle. I'm just waiting for a few final squares from my fellow bee members and then I need to piece the top, quilt it and do the binding this month so I can give it to our charity.

Do.Good.Stitches August Blocks. I've pulled my fabrics, started cutting and now need to sew them together. I made one block but it turned out a little small so now I need to redo it.

Sew Bee Blissful Blocks. I am beyond excited to be part of this international sewing bee. Jenna sent some great fabrics all the way from England (and a fun postcard from Bath!) and a straight forward tutorial for what type of blocks she want. I'm looking forward to making these blocks.

Wedding Quilt. I've been married for over four years now so it's about time I finish up our wedding quilt. (We used it in place of a guest book). I still need to finish the top (add the borders), quilt and bind it.

Super Secret Project # 2. This is a surprise but I'm almost finished - just need to quilt and bind it. No picture because it is a secret.

So that's my list for this week. What's on your sewing to do list?

linking up to freshly pieced for WIP Wednesday


Choices Choices

Too many ideas are floating around my head as to how I want to sew together this dang summer sampler quilt top. It's driving me insane...I even dreamed about it last night. Using my trusty illustrator/photoshop skills (see my college degree wasn't for naught!) I made a few mock ups of potential quilt tops. Do you have a favorite? Or perhaps another idea that isn't even here yet?

I'm linking up to Fabric Tuesday at Quilstory


More Summer Sampler Fun

Well I finally finished piecing all the summer sampler blocks. It certainly was time consuming but I am liking how they turned out. I have been playing around with layout ideas in my head and just need to decide what type of sashing to do. I'm leaning towards purple or gray sashing (does anyone else think it would be slightly strange since I don't have any purple in the quilt) but making my blocks different sizes and randomly placing them around the quilt. Haven't decided on that yet though.

Anyway here's a rundown of the blocks I finished up this weekend.

Block # 7: Six Pointed Star. Now no offense to anyone out there, but I hated making this block. Sewing all those triangles together annoyed me for some reason and I'm not sure I like how it looks with the solids. All in all, I'm not very happy with it and am seriously contemplating making a new one. Although I think I might make one that uses one inch string pieces like the Rocky Road to Kansas and maybe even uses paper piecing to avoid sewing all those triangles if I can figure out a template to use that avoids y seams. We'll see how ambitious I feel later.

Block # 8: Lucky Pieces. I had a hard time deciding on the colors for this block. I sat stumped for a little bit before deciding to create a mockup of this block in Illustrator and played around with the colors until I got to a combination I liked the best.

Block # 9: Minnesota. When I first saw this block I really struggled with the color placement because I was trying to go with an all white background for my squares and the original minnesota block has hourglasses instead of the diamonds on the sides. I finally decided to change it up a bit and after experimenting with different color placement, decided I liked this version a little better. 

Block # 10: Evening Star. This is one of my favorite blocks in the entire series and one of the many reasons I decided to make this quilt in the first place. It was a breeze to put together and I think an entire quilt with a variation of this might be in my future 

Block 11: Rocky Road to Kansas. Making this block was super easy...the hardest part was sewing all those one inch strips to the paper...luckily I had an episode or two of Mad Men to keep me company (Holy cow have you ever seen that show?! It's so good.) Maybe next time I'll choose strips that are a little wider and cut down on my work.

Block # 12: Kansas Dust Storm. Making the last block was quite exciting -- not only because it was the last block in the series but also because it involved a lot of thought (on my part) to get the colors arranged properly...I may or may not have accidently sewn an orange square to a blue square and had to unpick it...twice. Don Draper might have provided a distraction at the point though so who knows.

Linking this up to Sew Modern Monday


Sunday Sewing

Happy Sunday everyone!

I've been a busy little sewing bee this weekend, although more on that later. I've finished piecing all of my summer sampler blocks and even have plans in motion for a new quilt. All that remains for the summer sampler quilt is to tear off the paper from the pieced blocks, stich up the quilt top and figure out a quilting plan. Since my busy husband has managed to tear himself away from the books for a few hours the plan is to watch Iron Man 2 while tearing paper off the backs of my blocks.

How are you spending your Sunday? Did you get any sewing accomplished this weekend?


Flickr Friday: Back to school

This week a lot of stores have been having their back to school sales and I LOVE school supplies. Forty cents for crayons? [for a funny story ask me about the time my mom, sister, and I bought ten cent Crayola crayons] A dollar fifty for markers? Heck yes! Sign me up!

1. Calculator 2. Eraser 3. Lined Paper 4. Sharpies 5. Colored Pencils 6. Crayola Crayons

What is your favorite memory/part of getting ready to go back to school?


Summer Fair 2011: Brick Quilt

Design: Based off Rachel's colorbrick quilt-a-long
Fabric: Various aqua/red prints from Just Wing it by Momo and other stash
Quilted: Machine quilted in the ditch
Completed: March 2011

I made this quilt for my sister's friend who had her first child. I thought this was a perfect quilt for a baby because it is so simple and cheerful. I chose to go with a simple stitch in the ditch style of quilting so it would emphasize the brick pattern on the back...and I adore how it came out. In fact the back might just be my favorite part.

I am linking this up to the gen x quilters summer quilt show.

Summer Fair 2011: Peach Pie

genXquilts is hosting a virtual quilting and recipe show this week on their blog. I'm excited because it combines 2 things that I love - quilting and cooking. I spent a lot of time thinking about what summer recipe I was willing to share and finally settled on Peach Pie. There's nothing that says summer to me like a fresh peach pie. It seems like a lot of work but trust me it is totally worth it.

Fresh Peach Pie [adapted from the Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum]

2 crust 9 inch pie crust (most people have their own recipes for this -- if you need one let me know and I'll post it)
6 cups (2 3/4 lbs) peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 16ths
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1.  Put the pie crust into the 9-inch pie pan as follows -- roll the dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap until it's 1/8 inch thick or less and 12 inches in diameter (I usually use a bowl to check the size). Transfer it to the pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, no longer than 3 hours.
2.  Place the sliced pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle them with the lemon juice. Sprinkle on the sugar and salt and toss gently to mix evenly. Allow them to macerate for at least 30 min but no longer than an hour.
3.  Transfer the peaches and their juices to a colander suspended over a bowl to capture the liquid. The mixture will release almost 1 cup of juice.
4.  In a small saucepan (nonstick works best) over medium-high heat, boil down this liquid to about 1/3 a cup or until syrupy and lightly caramelized. Swirl liquid but do not stir it. Meanwhile, transfer peaches to and toss them with the cornstarch until all traces of the cornstarch have disappeared.
5.  Pour the syrup over the peaches, tossing gently. Transfer the mixture to the pie shell.
6.  Roll out the top crust large enough to cut a 12-inch circle. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water and place the top crust over the fruit. Tuck the overhang under the bottom crust border and press down around to seal it. Make about 5 evenly spaced slices in the center of the crust about an inch from the center and radiating towards the edge. 
7.  Cover pie loosely with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for about an hour.
8.  Preheat oven to 425 F. Put oven rack on lowest level and use a baking stone before preheating if possible. Also place a large piece of foil on top to catch any pieces that will fall through (this will save you from having to spend hours cleaning your oven...just ask me how I know that)
9.  Put pie directly on the foil topped baking stone and bake 40-45 minutes or until juices bubble thickly through the slashes. After 30 minutes, protect the edges of the pie with some foil to help them not get burnt
10.  Cool the pie on a rack at least 3 hours before cutting to allow juices to settle...trust me this part is important. Cut and serve with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!