Friday, October 13, 2017

I Love Fall and a Pumpkin Quilt

It's no surprise that fall is my favorite season. I think this is true for most people. The milder temperatures and gorgeous color associated with the season are very comforting. But, fall eludes Southern Californians. By "milder temperatures" we mean it's not 100'F! We have to go north or east to really see fall color but we can pretend by surrounding ourselves with pumpkins, fall colors, seasonal foods like soup and stews and cozy quilts.

This pumpkin quilt pattern by Allison Harris is the perfect fall quilt. I purchased a fabric bundle kit from SewLux because I did not have enough orange fabrics in my stash. Chrissy did a great job coordinating the orange, brown and green fabrics. I also purchased the background from SewLux. 

For the quilting I resorted to my go to squiggles and swirls and threw in some seasonal words, leaves and pumpkins. I have gotten very comfortable with the quilting process but know that my skills can always improve. The best way to learn is just do it and embrace your mistakes.
I think this quilt represents my first successful all machine binding. It's not perfect but I am getting better at it. 

For the backing fabric I used a print from Cotton&Steel's Lil Monsters collection. I even incorporated a little strip of the selvage into the label.

For the photo shoot I wanted to go to a pumpkin patch but then I saw one of the local grocery stores had a big pumpkin display in the front of their store, so I took advantage of the free location and snapped away. This proved to be a good idea since I did not need to worry about people running through the background.

This quilt has already gotten a lot of cuddles and has a permanent (seasonal) place on the sofa. My friend, Pam, who is my daughter-in-law's mom, told my DIL to steal it when I wasn't looking :-))

My grandson in his pumpkin jammies was too tired to smile for the camera but this photo is adorable, none the less.

I had enough fabric remaining from the quilt to make three table runners, one for me and two to give as gifts to quilty friends. I just added a few more orange fabrics from stash and ended up with three table runners each measuring approximately 16"x58". For each table runner I used Essex yarn dyed linen in the Flax colorway. I used a different background on each one and quilted each one a little differently.

This last table runner is for me. I tried a double sided binding for the first time and I love it. It is a little more time consuming but I love the way it turned out. 

Quilt Stats:
Pattern-Pumpkins by Cluck Cluck Sew
Fabric-Assorted orange, green and brown fabrics purchased as a kit from SewLux
Background Fabric-Moda Crossweave in Graphite
Backing-Party in Grey Lil Monsters collection by Cotton and Steel
Binding-Green from the kit
Quilting-by me on my Bernina 820
Thread-Pieced with Aurifil 50wt. and quilted with Aurifil 50wt.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Socks That Martha Ate

About six weeks ago I came home to find that Martha, my sweet Labradoodle, had gotten into a bag of yarn and shredded it all over our family room. It was over $100 worth of yarn that I had planned to knit several pairs of socks.  I couldn't be mad with her; look at that sweet face; I was angry with myself for not moving the yarn to a safer location.

I decided I wanted to make our daughter-in-law a pair of socks for her birthday, so I began knitting a pair of socks using three different yarns and using the "fade" method to blend the yarns when changing from one yarn to the other. 

I took this project with me on vacation and would knit each night as we sat in the bar and watched the sunset  at our hotel in Grand Teton National Park.

When we arrived home I only had the leg to finish on the second sock. We decided to run out for a quick dinner one evening and, as we always do since the "yarn incident", I picked everything up and put it on the counter, out of Martha's reach (so I thought).

We were gone less than an hour, but that was plenty of time for her to somehow get the knitting bag off the counter and completely destroy the toe and most of the foot of one of the socks. I was so angry and she knew it! We didn't look at each other for two days!

Luckily, Hue Loco still carried the pink yarn and I was able to order it and get it in time to finish the socks for Briana.

I gifted them to her yesterday and was so pleased to know I was able to repair and continue making these socks for her. They turned out beautifully and she really liked them. Because one sock ended up being knit toe up and the other was finished top down the toes look a little different but once they are on her feet I have no doubt I am the only one who would know.

I finished the toe with a kitchener stitch, which I am finally understanding and love how pretty this toe looks. I might be a new convert to knitting top down socks.

I started knitting gusset, slip stitch heels instead of the Fish Lips Kiss Heel. I like the look of it a little more.

These socks will make a perfect fall staple for Briana. The colors are so pretty.

And thus ends the story of The Socks That Martha Ate!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Five Years in the Making

Five years ago my son asked if I would teach his daughter to sew. Makenzie and I started with a simple pair of pull on shorts. We used an old pair of her sweats and cut a pattern to make them. Soon afterwards we moved on to quilt passion.
We decided on the Disappearing Nine Patch pattern. I had two charm square packs of a cute fabric line that she liked so we started with the basic techniques of learning about the 1/4" seam allowance, matching her points and pressing the seams.

Between her schedule and mine we didn't get much accomplished that first summer, so we returned to the same project the next year...

and the next year!

She finally finished the quilt top in 2014 and then we both dropped the ball. Makenzie was not super interested in sewing, although we loved our time together. She is a sporty girl and has a busy social life so sewing was not really at the top of her list. Her quilt got folded up and put away in my unfinished projects box.

This year I decided to finish the quilt and surprise her with it for her birthday.

I knew her small quilt wouldn't get much use seeing as she is 5'8" tall now, so I added a large border on all sides using the Nummers print fabric from IKEA. The black and white words were the perfect addition to showcase Makenzie's work in the center of the quilt.
I quilted it using my favorite method of what I call "Graffiti" quilting; a combination of straight lines, pebbles, squiggles, hearts and words.

I incorporated the label into the quilting with short phrases like "this quilt made by Makenzie and quilted by Bubbi" and "started in 2012 and completed in 2017" and "Happy Birthday".

I backed the quilt with the Story newsprint from Carrie Bloomston. I found it on Amazon ( and received a discount for buying over 4 yards! I love using this print because it is 108" wide and goes with so many different styles of quilt. The binding is becoming a habit too. Once again I used the black and white mini stripe from Timeless Treasures, available from on Amazon, too.

The finished quilt measures 72" wide and 82" long...I think it will keep Makenzie warm and cozy for many years to come.

Martha had to try it out before we gifted the quilt to Makenzie.

She was so surprised and her smile shows how much she liked her quilt. It holds so many memories of our time spent together.

This video shows her surprise and you can hear her parents in the background, remarking at their surprise of how well she did making the center section.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Making Jam in the Instapot

I have been searching for Italian plums for years. They never have them at my local grocer or fruit stand, but this past weekend I found them at Costco! I was so excited. They are the best plums for baking and jam making and they are delicious just to eat out of hand, as well.

I searched for a recipe and found one in the book Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan. Her book is great for making small batches of jams and other preserved foods.

I decided to try making the jam in the Instapot, mainly because my copper jam pan is huge and is not good for making small batches of jam.

I doubled Marisa's ingredients from the book, yielding three pints of the most delicious plum jam.

I had to try it right away on a slice of sourdough toast. Success! The texture and thickness is perfect and it didn't take much time or effort at all.

The plum jam turned out so good that I immediately made a small batch of fig jam using Marissa's suggested addition of fresh thyme. Another one for the record books. I love making jam.

I headed to Costco today to buy more plums and snagged the last box. I'm making more plum jam today.

Instapot Plum Jam with Star Anise

2 pounds Italian plums, remove pits and chop into chunks
1-1/2 cups/300 grams granulated sugar  (next time I would cut back on the sugar a little)
3 Star Anise

Have ready 3 pint jars with lids and rims that have been sterilized in boiling water. Prepare a boiling water bath for processing.

Place chopped plums and sugar in the Instapot. Mix and allow to sit for an hour for the sugar to liquefy a bit. Add the three star anise pieces.
Turn the Instapot to the saute setting and bring this mixture up to boiling. When it is boiling, place the lid carefully on the pot and turn off the pot. Immediately set the pot to HIGH pressure and set the timer for 2 minutes. 
When the 2 minutes is up, turn off pot and allow the pressure to release naturally. When pressure has released, carefully remove the lid and set the pot to saute again. Stir carefully with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to prevent the jam from scorching and cook until jam is thick; a spatula dragged through the jam should leave a line and the jam should not rush in to fill the space.

Pour jam into three sterilized jam jars. Place lids on jars, screw on rims and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars carefully, allow to cool and check that lids have sealed. 

YIELD: 3 pint jars

FYI: I attempted to make another batch of the Plum Jam using three pounds of plums and it did not turn out to be as easy as it was with only two pounds. I think there was too much liquid. I do not know enough about the Instapot to know why this happened, but be warned to stick to only using two pounds of fruit.

Instapot Fig Jam with Thyme

2 pounds fresh figs (I use brown turkey figs from my tree), chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large ribbons of lemon peel
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Follow directions above.

YIELD: 3 pint jars

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Baby Shower for Lauren

Last Saturday I hosted a baby shower for my son and daughter-in-law. It was a beautiful afternoon to gather with friends and family and shower the parents-to-be and their expected little girl.

My friend, Michele, has a flower design business, so when I am running short on time or ideas I call on her to make the floral arrangements. The "E" stands for the baby's name, Ellison.

The guests were a delightful mix of family, my friends and Evan and Lauren's girlfriends. 

To make it easy on myself I had the shower at a restaurant instead of our home. This also insured that I would be able to completely enjoy myself and my guests.

To combine party favors and dessert I ordered large, decorated sugar cookies and cupcakes from a local bakery. By not making these myself, I sacrificed taste but gained cuteness. These sweet treats were so cute and well received.

This baby girl is going to be welcomed in style. She received so many useful and beautiful gifts.

I started this flowering snowball quilt in May 2016, long before Lauren and Evan were even expecting. With each stitch I said a prayer that their prayers would be answered and they would soon become pregnant. In February, when we found out they were expecting, I kept on praying that the baby would be a girl, so that we would have an even number of girl and boy grandchildren. In May our prayers were answered, once again. Baby Ellison Grey is due mid-October.

I also made the cutest little outfit consisting of a bubble romper, shoes and bib. The fabric by Art Gallery Fabrics is perfect for a baby girl. The pattern can be found on the Upcraft Club website. It is the Carly Bubble Romper.

The matching shoes were surprisingly easy to make. I followed a tutorial on Pinterest. 

There are lots of tutorials for making baby bibs on Pinterest. I used this one.

For the BIG gift, we purchased their stroller from the gift registry. This thing is the Cadillac of strollers. I look forward to pushing the baby on a walk through the neighborhood in this stroller.

I like games at showers. I like games in general. No one plays games anymore. We played two easy games. For one of the prizes I made this cute coin purse. This little squirrel was just begging to be made into a coin purse. This is the UR Priceless Coin Purse. I can't seem to find the link anymore. 

My sister captured the majority of the photos of the afternoon. She did this pretty edit of the mom to be.

I'm sure Lauren is like any expectant mom...she will be ogling all her pretty, new gifts as she gets ready to hold and love their new baby girl. We can't wait to meet her and hold her.