May 13, 2015

Spring Petals Table Topper QAL - Color Me Retro

Hello, Friends!
Have you been quilting along

This quilt along came along at just the right time for me!
I was ready for a new table topper for my kitchen table,
and I had just the right stash of fabrics on hand.

The Crafty Quilter did such a great job planning this
quilt along. The pace was just right - a new lesson each week,
with extra time to add linky photos at the end.
All stress!

I took this opportunity to use my fat quarters of
Color Me Retro fabrics by Jeni Baker for Art Gallery.

{They have adorable names...Florette, Kitchenette, and Dulcette.}

I've had these prints since they were first released,
and it's about time I used them to brighten my kitchen.
I had some fun positioning the background prints
in a directional design.
For the triangle edges, I chose the violet floral stripe.

Here's how my table topper looked
with the background stitched and petals fused into place.
I think my favorite step in this project
was deciding how to place the petals!

Next I appliqued my petals using my Pfaff's blanket stitch.
I love that stitch, and it's the reason I chose my machine 14 years ago.
After all of the petals were stitched, I added the petal centers.

What a difference those centers made...they brought out the lime.
This was such a pleasant surprise, because I'd already
planned to use a lime polka dot for the binding.

For the quilting, I decided to go lightly.
I stitched around each petal,
plus added a right angle to echo the violet triangle shapes.

{I forgot to take this shot before the project was finished.} 

{You can see the overall design best on the back.}

Let's do a bit of time traveling...back in time from the photo above!
After the quilting was completed, I carefully trimmed the table topper.

So, what about binding all of those corners, including the inverted ones?

Oh, The Crafty Quilter has a tutorial for that!
I'm not gonna was a bit tricky,
and it took like.for.ever to handstitch the binding
to the back, but it was really worth it!

I love my finished table's something I'm keeping,
just for myself. It will make me think of my friend Julie,
The Crafty Quilter, and all of my friends who quilted along.

I bet I'll make another one someday!

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May 11, 2015

Welcome, Summertime!...Strawberry Cheesecake Pie Recipe

Hello, Friends!
Who's ready to welcome summertime with
a delicious homemade dessert?

{How about some strawberry pie?}

I thought it would be fun to share my own recipe
for Strawberry Cheesecake Pie.
It's got a pie crust on the bottom,
a layer of creamy cheesecake filling,
and it's all topped off with fresh glazed strawberries. we go.
First I'll show you how I made mine, with photos. 
The entire recipe is available in the PDF link,
and also at the end of this post.

First make your pie crust.
I just used a refrigerated pie crust,
but you could make one from scratch if you prefer.
Once it's in the pie pan, make the edges as pretty as you can.
Then poke holes in the crust with a fork, to reduce shrinkage.
Bake it at 450 for about 9 to 11 minutes.

The crust should be very lightly browned. Put it aside to cool.

For the creamy cheesecake layer,
blend cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla.
{To keep the mixture white, you could use clear vanilla.}
Fold in the Cool Whip, then spoon the filling into the pie crust.
While the pie chills, prepare the berries and glaze.

Clean the strawberries. Choose some of the ripest ones
to use in making the glaze. You can leave the rest whole,
or cut them in half.

Mash enough berries to make about 1/2 cup.
I like to add the sugar now, and let the berries soften.
Then put the pureed berries and sugar into a small saucepan.
Add the cornstarch and a pinch of baking powder.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

After the mixture thickens and turns clear,
add a little dab of butter and the vanilla.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Arrange the berries over the cheesecake layer.
This step can be as plain or fancy as you like.
I kind of wish I'd taken time to make a fanned design,
but it's still very pretty.

Oh, boy...the last step really glams it up.
Spoon the glaze over all the berries and cream.

Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

1 9" pie crust, from a box or from scratch

Cheesecake layer:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Cool Whip, thawed

Strawberry layer:
3 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
pinch of baking powder
1/2 tsp.vanilla
small dab of butter

Prepare the pie crust first. Lay the unbaked crust in a 9" pie pan.
Pinch the upper edges of the crust to make an attractive design.
Prick the crust with a fork to prevent shrinking.
Bake the crust at 450 degrees for about 9 - 11 minutes,
until just delicately browned.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Prepare the cheesecake layer.  In a small bowl, blend the cream cheese,
powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip.
Spread evenly over the baked crust and chill.

Prepare the strawberry glaze. Puree enough berries to make 1/2 cup.
In a small saucepan combine berry puree, sugar cornstarch and baking powder.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened and clear. Add butter and vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

Arrange remaining berries on top of the cream cheese layer.
Keep the berries whole or in large pieces.
Spoon the glaze over all and chill the pie well before serving.

Serves 6

A picture is worth a thousand words...

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April 26, 2015

Do You Want to Build A Snowball Block?

Hello, Friends!

Buds are blooming,
birds are singing,
but I'm in the mood for making
SNOWBALL blocks!

You know what I'm talking about, right?
When you take a quilt block
and round off the corners a bit,
by adding half-square-triangles,
it becomes a "Snowball" block.

It's a fun design element that is seen
all over quiltland.

These are some blocks I've made,

If you're short on sewing time,
like I am, you might enjoy some tips
for sewing snowball blocks.

I love to precut my precuts...
if you follow that I've got a couple of blocks
ready for sewing.

{I've been able to stitch 2 of these Jump Ring blocks in less than 30 minutes.}

As you can see from the off-white pieces above,
as well as the tiny squares below,
I like to use an iron to "mark" the sewing lines.
I just press the pieces diagonally,
right sides out.
They are ready for stitching in no time.

When I begin my stitching,
I always use a fabric scrap at the beginning
and again at the end,
stopping with the needle down.
This eliminates loose threads that need trimming later!

{It also makes the stitching nice and even, start to finish.}

Another time-saver is chain-piecing.
Just keep the needle down between pieces,
and butt the next set up against the last one.

For snowball blocks,
it helps to alternate the direction of each block.
See the photo below.
I've started stitching the corners
from a different direction each time.
The pieces line up perfectly this way.

I like to snowball all four corners,
before trimming and pressing the finished block.

{Because I've already pressed the sewing line,
there's less distortion of the block.}

Have you ever made "bonus" half-square triangles...
a.k.a. HST's...
from your snowball blocks???

If your corner squares are at least 2 1/2" square,
this is a really cool tip to try!

BEFORE trimming away the layers
that are not needed for the finished block:

You can use a ruler to mark 
a SECOND line of stitching parallel to the first,
in the part of the square that will be cut away.
I make my second stitch line about 3/8" from the first,
to maximize the size of my bonus HST's.

Stitch this second line along all of the corners of the block.
I usually "eye-ball" the 3/8", to save even more time.
Just be sure the seam is parallel to the first stitchline.

NOW it's time to trim away the excess,
cutting in the space between the two stitchlines.

Take those formerly wasted edges to the ironing board,
and now you have a set of little bonus HST's!

Trim them to size,
and you've got a headstart on a new project.

I trimmed these to 1 3/4",
but you could make them into 1 1/2" HST's if you like.

I hope you'll stop by again soon
for more sewing tips and projects.
Wouldn't you like to see what I'm making
with all of those snowballs?

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March 28, 2015

Elementary Needle Book

If I could make whatever I wanted,
on any given day,
I would probably choose to create one of three things:
a pillow, a pincushion, or a needle book.

{My blog is mostly made up of those projects, if you notice.}

Here is my latest indulgence...the Elementary Needle Book,
made for my sweet niece who loves math and linguistics.

I started with this little mound of scraps and trims.
It was fun to organize them into something
so dainty and practical.

Once again, I turned to the fabulous free tutorial
I've made quite a few of these needle books,
and more are in my future, I'm sure.

From the first needle book I made,
I wondered why all of those patchwork squares
should be hidden away.
I featured mine on the front this time.

I love the bit of quilting detail.

Inside I decorated some of the pages with ricrac...



and even a tiny butterfly label.

The finished project was a cheery surprise
when it arrived in my niece's mailbox.

Handmade gifts are such a joy,
for all of us who make and receive them.

Have a great week, and enjoy something handmade!

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