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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cherished and Cherished for Dolls

Do you all know how incredibly busy I've been? Today is the day that all that work pays off. I'm so happy to introduce to you my two newest patterns: Cherished and Cherished for Dolls.
 A handmade dress can become a family heirloom. Create this one-of-a-kind dress in fun fabrics for any little girls, sizes 2T to 10. It's perfect for school or play. Detailed instructions for every step are included. This is the dress she will cherish.
 Every girl wants to match her favorite doll. This pattern is an easy version of the Cherished dress for girls by Melissa Stramel. Featuring a cute button front and unique pockets, it's sure to please any little girl and her dolly. It's made to fit 18" dolls such as American Girl, Madame Alexander and Our Generation and 15" dolls such as American Girl Bitty Baby and Gotz. Also included are instructions for a miniature market tote from the Bountiful Pattern, also by Melissa Stramel. Make this the one she will Cherish!

Now for the details on how to get them: You can order any of my patterns as paper pattern or e-patterns. These are all now available in my new shop. We are doing some website maintenance and the shop will be linked from there over the next few days. In the mean time, just click the link above to order! I need to mention that the patterns are not in my hands just yet, but I anticipate they will be here next week. Or you can go for the e-pattern option which will be send quickly. Of course, you can also order through This is especially a good place to order from for wholesale and distributor orders of the paper patterns. And coming really, really soon you can order all of my e-patterns at a distributor rate through Patterns Gone Digital! This is also an option for stores. There are a few other places that are selling them -- as I get them I will add them to a new page that tells you where you can buy. Retailers, if you have my paper or e-patterns, please let me know and I'll include you!

I hope you Cherish this dress!

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. 1 Chronicles 16:34


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Can You Hear the Caroling?

Our day-after-Thanksgiving tradition continues. I get a little crazy about after Christmas decoration sales. Usually each kid gets their own little tree in their rooms. It often gets a bit messy. So this year, I put up one of my bargains, a large Christmas tree, in the playroom of our house. Nathan, Anna and Emilie were delighted to decorate it "however they wanted." We still have a lot of Christmas decorating to go, but at least our trees are up! What do you do to get ready for Christmas?

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6


Monday, November 28, 2011

The Very Basics of Quilting Part 3

Welcome back to the Very Basics of Quilting Series. So, we've amassed our supplies, and chosen our fabrics. This week let's pick a pattern.

Now you might love the look of cathedral windows or a double wedding ring quilt. But for your very first quilt, you should definitely steer clear! Whether you're looking online, in a magazine or at quilt patterns in a fabric shop, most should be marked with a level. For example, my own patterns are marked "beginner," "advanced beginner," "intermediate," or "advanced." We are going for beginner. Not only that, but there are certainly levels of beginner. Some beginner patterns assume you have made a few quilt before. Let me introduce you to a few that are great choices for a first quilt. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of a quilt. A queen-sized quilt for your bed may not be the way to start! Unless, that is, you are very persistant. If not, look at wallhangings and baby quilts. Most baby quilts are easily adapted into a wallhanging or lap sized quilt with a few fabric change-ups.

The block used in this quilt is called a 9-patch, because as you can see there are 9 patches in each block. I actually made this quilt when I was 13 years old and it is one of the simplest you can choose. Your blocks are all cut to the same size and then they are pieced in three rows of three patches before sewing them into a block.

A log cabin is another wonderful choice for a first quilt. You start with a center square and then build in strips around it, either using darks and lights to create a pattern or using strips to make boxes.

Of course, I think we can even go a little bit easier. There are several quilts for the modern quilter which are made in a freeform pattern, meaning basically that there are no rules. One such quilt is by my friend Thomas Knauer and you can purchase it from his website.
I think you get the picture. To sum up, choose the following:
*  a pattern marked beginner
*  a pattern made from squares or rectangles
*  a wallhanging or lap-sized quilt
*  if it looks like it doesn't have matching intersections, it will be easier still

Next week we'll go through some of these patterns and talk about sewing techniques.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Free Shipping has free shipping from now through Monday, in honor of Small Business Saturday. That means you can buy patterns, such as the Joy Bag and Bountiful and have them shipped for free, just in time for Christmas sewing!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Pilgrim (and Indian) Style

Anna's kindergarten class prepared a Thanksgiving feast for their families. They made vegetable stew, pumpkin pudding and cornbread muffins. It was delicious! And they really did it all. It taught me that she can do more than stir the bowl when I'm cooking.

Thank you to Mrs. Donley for the beautiful pictures. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalm 100:4-5 NIV


Monday, November 21, 2011

The Very Basics of Quilting Part 2

Hi there. I know this is quite late, since it should have been posted Friday. Thanks for waiting on me! I've been finishing up some new patterns that should be out really soon.

This week we're going to talk about fabric.

 I certainly recommend quilting-weight cottons when you are quilting. Avoid fabrics like polyester and knit, especially for your first quilts. Also heavier weight cottons would not be suitable. Quilting weight cottons come in a variety of colors and prints. The ones sold in quilt stores are by far the best. Discount store cottons tend to be a looser weave with lower thread count, prone to raveling and fading. My opinion is, if you're going to spend all the time it takes to make a quilt, then spend the extra dollars for better fabric.
 Now let's move on to color choices. Quilt stores generally group fabric in one of two ways: by color like the top photo or by collection like these bottom two. Shopping by collection is pretty much a foolproof way of combining fabrics. After all, a designer made them to go together. The above photo contains thirties prints which is another nice way to choose fabric: by era. Generally speaking, using fabrics made to look like a certain time period will match each other. If this is all too matchy-matchy for you, let's look at another way to choose fabric.
Here's a little lesson in art, just like I teach my students each year. As you can see, there are primary, seconday and tertiary colors. A great way to choose colors is to choose complementary colors, those that are directly across from each other on the color wheel. These colors will always appear more vibrant when they are used together, such as yellow and purple. Or you can use two complementary color groups in a quilt, such as purple and yellow, red and green.

Too wild for you? How about a split complement? Again, if you choose yellow, the split complement would be red-violet and blue-violet. This would be a little less vibrant than a direct complent and you also get an extra color. Adding white or black can ground these colors.

Of course primary colors or secondary colors can also be used as a color scheme. These are called triads and can be any three colors equally spaced on the wheel.

For the least amount of contrast, choose an analagous color scheme, or those colors next to each other on the wheel, such as red, red-violet and violet.

Adding white to the color is called a tint (red to pink), gray is called a tone and black a shade. All of these variations create a myriad of different colors. And even though I am scrappy, scrappy, scrappy, I always keep the color wheel in mind. I often play complementary scraps off of each other in a small part of the quilt.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to play with it. If you love fabric, you know that you can spend hours sorting through it and making combinations. Just give yourself permission to play.

Finally, before you start your quilt, decide whether or not you want to prewash your fabric. I seldom do unless it's red. Red fabric tends to bleed. I love the look of a washed quilt and the effect washing has on a quilt after it has been quilted.

Next up, choosing a pattern.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creamy Enchilada Topping

Enchiladas are probably my favorite food in the whole wide world. I recently ate an enchilada that had the yummiest sauce, instead of the same-old red stuff. I tried to recreate it and here is what I did. Try it, you might just love it too. This recipe makes enough for 7 or 8 enchiladas.
First put one package of cream cheese in a half cup milk and slowly melt them together. Just use medium-low heat.

When it looks like this, we're ready to proceed.
Chop a half cup of cilantro and shred 3/4 cup of monterey jack cheese. Add to the pot and stir.
Next stir in a half cup of frozen corn.
Add cayenne pepper to taste (a little goes a long way) and a couple of teaspoons of hot madras curry powder. This one can me omitted if you don't care for curry, but it gives a really nice flavor. Stir in another half cup of milk and reheat until bubbly.

Serve with homemade refried beans and salsa. Delicious.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Meet Squirt. He has stolen our hearts. He is the tiniest little thing but still able to boss around the barnyard. Born in an unusually late litter. The only survivor. His mom is seldom around. And yet here he is. He sits in a large cat food dish and growls at anything that dares to come close to his food. I'll have to get a picture of that for you. It's SO cute.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Very Basics of Quilting Part 1

I decided to write a few posts up about quilting how-to for the very beginning quilter. This may not pertain to most of you, but people always tell me they would love to quilt but don't know where to start.

This week we're talking equipment.
 These are what I would call the essentials. First off, you will need a sewing machine. However, if you're just starting out, please don't go buy one. Borrow Grandma's. Or a friend's. Or go to your local quilting store and see if they will let you use one before you decide to buy. Sewing machines can cost as little as $100 and as much as several thousand. A good beginner's sewing machine probably should cost around $500 although there are people who would argue that the less expensive ones are fine. The most imporant thing is that you get one you can try out first and then buy. And by all means, please don't buy one if you're not sure you love to sew yet!

In the top left corner, you'll see a little tin of pins. I like long pins with a flat head, but any sewing pin will do, especially if it's a quilting pin. You should be able to pick these up for under $5.

You will need a small pair of scissors for snipping threads, also around $5. And a pair of sewing shears, which are only used to cut fabric. Again, please borrow someone's if you're not yet sure this is for you. And when you're ready, buy the best you can afford. A good pair will cost $50 or a little less.

Every sewer needs a ripper because mistakes do happen. This is another item which will cost under $5. Extra needles are also a must have, because they break from time to time and also need frequently replaced. A package of 5 needles costs about $5.

The next tin is from Gutermann and contains thread. You don't have to buy this brand, but do buy a good quality thread. I normally piece with a polyester thread although cotton is also acceptable.

The final little silver thing on the right is a quarter inch foot. It shows you how to guide your fabric perfectly so that you always get a quarter-inch seam. This is the standard sized seam used in quilting. This foot cost about $15. Most machines have a similar foot available. You can also place a brightly colored taped at the quarter inch mark on your machine to accurately mark your seam allowance. An accurate seam allowance is possibly the most essential secret to good quilt piecing!

 The next things you'll need is a cutting mat, as big as you have room for. These are expensive, but they are a one time purchase. If you can't store it where you use it, make sure to store it flat on the ground as they do warp. A big cutting mat can get pretty expensive, so borrow one if it's your first time.

A good ruler follows the mat, and I recommend one that is 24" x  6" or a little bit bigger. Mine is 8 1/2" wide. Rulers can also get pretty pricey, but a decent one can be purchased for under $20 although you may have to shop around.

You will also need a rotary cutter. Scissors will work, but a rotary cutter is SO accurate. And accuracy makes beautiful quilts. I love the clover brand rotary cutter. You can buy one for around $20.

And finally, make sure you have a measuring tape as this will be essential when you apply the borders of your quilt. These cost around $5.

Maybe the most important piece of equipment in the sewing room is an iron. Don't go all out on this -- the discount store ones work fine. Or use the one you already have for clothes. And ironing board will also be needed.

Hope this helps you get a good start! Next Friday, on to fabrics.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Think Christmas

It's hard to believe it's almost time for Christmas again. For those of us who sew, we had better get busy! Now this is not a Christmas present, but while I was making it I thought, pajamas are always great for Christmas. My Anna grows so fast! I know I've said that before, but I think she might be a super model someday. And where does this come from? Certainly not my 5'5". She is very tall for her class (kindergarten). And suddenly she needed pajamas, pretty much right now. She had nothing warm. And we only have WalMart in our little town, so I thought I could do a little bit better. I made these a very large size 8 so hopefully they will fit next year too. She wears a 6X.

The pattern is See and Sew from Butterick, number B4896. I had picked it up last summer because it's really cute, but honestly, not the best written. I could have used some more details and I'm pretty sure it told me to baste a few places but never to go back and sew them. I did go back, but still I like A LOT of detail. Now that I have it down, I may lengthen the top and make a nightgown. Maybe flannel. Probably pink. The pants fabric is Jennifer Paganelli and the shirt is something Timeless Treasures for breast cancer awareness. I honestly just used what I had on hand as it was really cold yesterday and I decided to stay home.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Really Late Halloween Post

So while I was at market, my husband really took over Halloween. He did so awesome! I got home at midnight on the day of Halloween, so the costumes had to be ready to go before I left. We went really simple this year.

I was home for the trick-or-treating but the Jack-o-lanterns were all Todd.
 He even took pictures!
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

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