March 18, 2015

Celebrating Quilters


Hello March!  Since it's National Quilting Month I decided to share some of my recent finishes and celebrate the amazing long arm quilters who make my quilts look awesome.  **Warning, photo heavy.

This is Baker's Acres, started a few years ago.  Made using a FQ Stack of Willow by Alexander Henry and a jelly roll of Kona Solids, it just kept getting more cheerful and fun to work on.



Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts has done many of my quilts.  She gets me just by looking at my quilts.  I send them to her and tell her to let them speak to her.  




Love her quirk and attention to detail.


I love patchy backs so I combined Alexander Henry's Farmdale with some olive corduroy, all from my stash.



Striped binding?  Yes, please.  


A new to me quilter is Laura Davies of Tanderwen Quilts.  Carrie at A Passion for Applique has shared many wonderful quilts Laura has done for her.  I've admired Laura's work.


Laura quilted Amish Buggy Wheels using a fun all over design.  


I love how the quilting doesn't overshadow the quilt design.  Laura puts time and thought into her work and shares ideas before she gets quilting.


The center of my Amish Buggy Wheels are cut from a vintage quilt top.  I "designed" or did the math, to continue the feel of the old quilt.   The dots are Avant Garden by MoMo for Moda.


Love this fabric.


This is Long John James, a larger version I made of my Long Johns quilt.  My son is James, he is tall, we have great childhood memories of pirates.  It all makes sense to us.  Arrr!


I love the geometric manly quilting design Laura did on this one.  I combined flannel and corduroy for a very warm and cozy quilt.  The prints are flannel called Quilter's Candy Flannel Neutral Sampler by Connecting Threads.  I love their flannel!  There are some flannel solids as well but the majority of the solids are corduroy.  


I love the richness of these colors.  So I give thanks to the wonderful quilter's of the world.  You're awesome!  I'll be back, one day, to share more finished quilts...once I get the bindings done.

~Piecefully, Stephanie

February 24, 2015

February


It's -11* F this morning so I'll just lay here with thread stuck to my ear.  I'm getting a suntan on my backside from camping on the heat vent.  I wish I was a cat.  Indoor facilities are preferable right now!

Love, Abby

February 18, 2015

Is it summer yet?



Congratulations to Yvonne at Yvonne W Designs.  She is the winner of the AJ Bag.  Thanks everyone for stopping by and taking time to leave your comments.  If you aren't familiar with Yvonne, her handiwork is lovely.  Not only is she talented with needle and thread but paint and brush as well.  You should stop by and see her beautiful hand painted buttons and other goodness.

~Piecefully, Stephanie

February 16, 2015

Soap Making




None of the soap above was made by me.  I just wanted to start off with a pretty soap picture.


Before we begin please know this is not meant to be a "how to" process or a tutorial.  This is just to share the experience and take the mystery out of soap making.  Any questions you may have are probably better "googled" to find the answers.

You need protective gear to include old clothes and/or apron, rubber gloves, mask and eye protection.


The equipment for soap making can come from your kitchen cabinets or can be purchased at garage sales or charity shops such as Good Will.  You need measuring cups, a scale is a must as well as a digital thermometer.  These are fairly inexpensive as you don't need the top of the line.  An immersion blender is helpful.  I found mine at Walmart for less than $20.  And you need a sizable bowl.  I use glass.  Those larger pyrex with handle and spout are perfect.


You need something to hold your soap batter such as silicon moulds or plastic storage trays.  These do not have to be expensive.  


Your ingredients depend on the recipe.  These I purchased at my local Walmart/grocery store.  All came from the food/oil section except Castor Oil.  It is found in the pharmacy section by laxatives.


Other ingredients that I can't source locally were purchased on line.  There are a wide variety of on line shops to order all of your soap making supplies.  I happen to use The Original Soap Dish.


This is lye.  It's a granular powder.


It's the reason for the protective safety gear.  For soap making you need lye, water, and oils.  It's best to follow a tried and true recipe instead of inventing your own for the first try.  Then if you want to experiment you can use a soap lye calculator, also found on line.  


Measuring is important.  Different oil combinations give you different outcomes -- hardness, foaming, conditioning, lather, etc...


Some oils are liquid and some are solid.  Shea butter, cocoa butter, as well as palm and coconut oil are solids.  After the oils are measured they are heated, microwaving is perfect, so there are no solid clumps.  This is my second attempt at soap making.  We had clumps the first time.  You will cool the oil to a room temperature.


While the liquid is cooling (ours got pretty hot) you measure the water and lye.  You should work with lots of ventilation.  We had windows open. 


You add the lye to water and not the other way around.


 Stir to dissolve the lye.  See the steam on the glass bowl?  This lye/water mixture heats up very quickly and gets really really hot.  It sits until it gets to a room temperature.


Once oils and lye are at the desired temperature you pour the lye/water into the oils.  This is where you can also add essential oils if you want scented soap.  Because there is an outlet in the small bathroom in the basement where we make our soap, we used the sink for mixing.  I bought a plastic microwave cover and cut it to fit on the mixing bowl.  The immersion blender fits in the opening that I cut.  Although not required I just wanted a splash guard while working with lye.  You give it a whirl and as you can see, the mixture looks white and creamy.  You want it cake batter consistency.


See how nicely it pours.


 The recipe we used makes 32 ounces and filled 2 trays.  Now we have loaves.  These got covered with plastic wrap and will sit for several days.  Then they are un-moulded and sit uncovered for approximately 4 weeks.  Different recipes may require different curing times.  If the soap is too soft it "melts" quicker and won't last as long.  You want the soap to be hard.  The loaves will then be cut into bars.


This was our first batch of soap and we used silicon moulds.  It was a learning experience and we "over mixed" our soap.  While still useable, certainly not as pretty.  Instead of a creamy cake batter consistency we got a muffin consistency and had to scoop instead of pour.  This is the reason for the imperfect look of the soap.  

Below are some links for recipes, online supplies, and lye calculators.

The Soap Dish -- this is where I buy my supplies


Vicki's Soap Recipes -- these are the recipes I've tried


How Soap is Made -- informational, interesting, helpful

Will you give soap making a try?

~Piecefully, Stephanie

February 12, 2015

Palm Springs


This is Palm Springs.  I grew up near this quirky desert city. 


These Modern Home prints by Monaluna are a perfect representation of the favorite mid-century motifs.  I like the combination of split stars and atomic starbursts.


Shopping my stash, I discovered the perfect backing.  Palm Springs is a pattern-in-waiting.  



 Yep, I used corduroy!


I received my AJ Bags back from Connecting Threads, post photo shoot for their catalog.  The fabric is the fresh, fun and happy Birchtree Lane.  I'm offering this lovely blue and white version to one of my faithful readers.  No rules.  I'll ship internationally.  This is not announced on Instagram or any other form of social media.  I just prefer sharing with those who stay in touch on a regular basis.

COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED

~Piecefully, Stephanie

February 11, 2015

Happy


I've been machine quilting.


Lots and lots of straight lines.


Cotton.  Corduroy.  Flannel.  Rick Rack.  LOVE!  Oooo...and striped binding from Mom's stash.


I know there are rick rack haters.  I feel sad for you.  This is such a happy quilt and it's name is also Happy!  This was a quilt for my book that I decided not to include.  Tough decision!


I grew up with a little tan and white dog named Happy.  She lived to be 18.  This adorable Sherbet Pips by Aneela Hoey for Moda has little brown and white dogs on it.  Perfect!  

~Piecefully, Stephanie

February 5, 2015

Bread is a Beautiful Thing



“How can a nation be great if their bread tastes like kleenex?” – Julia Childs

Can't you just hear Julia saying that!  I've dabbled in bread baking the last 35 years.  I don't do it often enough to be really good at it.  I've done the rise, punch down, rise versions.  I've had a bread machine that does everything for you.  Then my daughter discovered and shared a no knead recipe that you mix, cover and let sit for 12 - 18 hours then put it in a cast iron pot and bake in the oven.  I used the recipe from Simply So Good.  She also shares a bread movie that is quite helpful.  The smell of baking bread will draw sleeping children and hungry dogs to the kitchen drooling.

There are similar versions by Lake Lure  and one from The New York Times.  

~Piecefully, Stephanie