Monday, April 25, 2022

{Post 1,762} Juicy Fruit Quilt

We went to south GA this past weekend. We haven’t seen my oldest son’s family in about a year. I drove all the way down, and my husband drove all the way home. It was about 8 hours in the van one way. As usual, I gave much thought to what I should spend my time on while he drove. It was going to be daylight the whole time, which makes a difference. 

I never travel w/o my iPad. Between Kindle, email, blogs, etc., I can keep happily busy for hours. But I never pulled it out once. 

This box of shirt scraps was accumulated when I last cleaned off my cutting table. I am blessed to have a big pressing station as well as a big cutting station in my sewing room. I found bits and bobbles of shirts all over my sewing desk as well as the other two flat surfaces. I kept throwing them into a plastic tote box.

Often I get questions about how I get so much sewing done. Well, I sew every day (just about). Having pieces precut is something that I don’t do often. In this case, I was cutting down the shirt leftovers for two different quilts. They are both blocks I made up and both are pieced onto old phone book pages. That is for stability and to make sure they get up to the size I am shooting for. 

The first one is named Shirts and Selvages. I save selvages from all my fabrics. I have made many different items from them. I am using cash register tape (I got 4 rolls for $1 at a local thrift shop) to piece selvage strips, then I trim it down to 2-1/2” wide. I put that diagonally on a 6-1/2” square paper and use strips of shirts to finish the block out. I got this idea from Bonnie Hunter originally. If you’re new to upcycling shirts or string piecing, check out her blog. It’s I cut strips as small as 1” wide. Nothing over 1-3/4” on these small blocks. Here are my first ten. I use up a strip until it’s all gone. As I finish the blocks, I will spread out the heavily-repeated fabric.

 The second quilt I am calling Juicy Fruit, after the stick gum sold when I was a child. I don’t know if it is still sold. The block shape is gum-like, and the colors made me think of the multi-colored zebra in the commercials. I cut paper and muslin 3” x 6”. The paper is covered with shirt strips. The finished blocks are alternated with the muslin.

Here is where I am so far with that one as of a few minutes ago. This will measure 49.5” wide and 45.5” high when the blocks are sewn together. I have them sewn into groups of 18, 3 across and 6 down. That way I can move them around to distribute the eye-catching colors before sewing the final layout.

Each new quilt is my favorite, and when I’m sewing two at once—that’s a lotta love!

So my cutting strategy? I pulled out one piece (I figured it didn’t matter which one since I was going to try to cut up the whole box…and I did). If I could get a 3-1/4” long piece out of it that was at least 1” wide, I’d cut some rectangles for the Juicy Fruit. I stacked them all so that they weren’t in a jumble when I went to sew. If the piece was fairly large, I cut a 3-1/4” wide strip then subcut it into various widths for Juicy Fruit and cut the rest into strips for the sides of Shirts and Selvages. If the piece was too small, but big enough to matter, I matched it with a similar width piece to piece later. I laid those in my husband’s baseball hat which was beside me in the van. When we got home, after I put things to rights, I pieced and trimmed all those. I. Could. Not. Wait. You can see the pieced ones in the picture above. I also had those pieces at the very top of the shoulder seams of the yoke that have the diagonal edge. Two of those fit perfectly together. Waste not, want not! That’s pretty much my theme for everything. Here is a picture showing the difference. The top went into the very neat strings pile, and the bottom went into the trash. Even I have my limits.

So, do you like one quilt more than the other? I’d love to hear what you think about them. Using upcycled shirts makes the quilt seem loved and antique from the start. They are more lightweight than using quilting cottons well. I simply love them.

I bought an old wooden lap desk years ago at a thrift store in town. We always take it on trips because my husband usually works if it’s a weekday (while I drive). I use it if it’s a weekend. My iPad, practice sheets for machine quilting, and other items work fabulously on it. I sat behind my husband in our van on the way home.That way I could spread out my things beside me (our second row of seats fold into the floor, so we folded the other one down).

Here are a few pictures of my trip home. Not only did I get all the fabric cut, but I also cut up all the selvages I took with me. I stored those in a plastic bag so they wouldn’t get mixed up with the shirt scraps. I am messy, but neat. LOL!!

Years ago I cut up a badly-scarred cutting mat, and I take one of those to portable sewing opportunities. 

This is the box I started with…the styrofoam cup was from lunch. I used it for a trash can. Only the tiniest bits didn’t make the cut, so to speak!

This is what I ended up with…the rectangular leftover container was laden with neatly stacked strips, and I had row upon row of pieces for the Juicy Fruit quilt. The cup held just a smidgen of trash. 

Back to sewing for a bit! 

Friday, April 22, 2022

{Post 1,761} Popping In

 I am hanging out with four of my grandsons, age 6 down to 1. They live about 7.5 hours’ drive from us. Got here last night and will be driving home Sunday AM. I don’t see the boys often, so I wanted to make and bring them something a little special and specific for each one. So I thought about it long and hard and decided to make them string backpacks.

Each boy’s outer fabric is special for them. The inside lining is all Thomas the Tank Engine fabric. I used black paracord tied with double fisherman’s knots. That is the most secure knot for slippery ropes according to Google. It’s tricky to learn, but I practiced ;)

Jeremiah is 6 (left). His bag was made from dark blue with Americana words on it. He got a game of Spot It, Two new books, a sticker book, cookies, and fruit snacks. Samuel is 5 (middle). He got a paint with water book, a sticker book, cookies, fruit snacks, and a block set. Lyndon is 3. He got a Water Wow book, a squishy light-up toy (big hit with everyone), a puzzle set that makes 6 different puzzles, cookies, fruit snacks, and a number learning book. Baby got cookies, fruit snacks (of course), a ball, and several tiny books. 

Each backpack is constructed differently. I was working through 4 different tutorials on Pinterest. Oddly enough, the one I like best is the easiest to make. It’s the dinosaur print one.

I purposely brought things we could do with them. Worked like a charm with their cousins recently!

Sunday, February 13, 2022

{Post 1,760} Remainders Quilt

 As I have mentioned, this quilt pattern was in a book I have, then I saw someone making it on their blog. It is so pretty in person. I finished up two large sections that are 7 x 24 blocks, giving me a total of 14 x 24 blocks. The blocks are set 24 x 30 in the quilt, so I need another section of 16 x 24. I have a 7 x 7 section pieced, so I will add to that. I am anticipating one more contribution of fabric, and will use every speck of my nearly non-existent willpower to wait for it. This has been so fun to make because you can start with any size HST and bring it up to 3” square unfinished size. The slight difference in the colors and sizes of the HSTs make it that much more attractive to me. I just found and pinned another block that is similar. Here is that one:

This one has all different background pieces. That changes the look quite a bit. In reality, I probably won’t make this soon because so many projects catch my eye. I have quite a few quilt tops of my own to machine quilt. 

Here is my quilt on the design wall. The extra 7 x 7 is just slapped on there so I don’t lose it in my “there appears to have been a struggle” sewing room. The long sections measure 60”; that will be the width of the quilt.

Enjoy the process!

Sunday, February 6, 2022

{Post 1,759} Remainders and Travel

 I just realized I have not shown pics on here of the beginnings of my Remainders quilt. I actually have quite a bit finished. I have half of the blocks pieced, and have these large sections to show for it. The following pictures show a little bit of everything. I am using up small triangles I already had and added in scraps from Paulette. The beauty of this quilt is that you bring your HSTs up to size with units added on the right and across the top. Then they are trimmed to 3” square. 

A few pictures from this AM. We are at my daughter’s house for her birthday, which is tomorrow.  Welcome to what the natives here are calling Iceland. A look up into the diamond-covered trees. It is much more spectacular in person.

Meanwhile on the ground…

Hope you are enjoying some of whatever makes you happy.

Monday, January 31, 2022

{Post 1,758} Lasagna Recipe ~ the New One

 This looks like a lot of work, but it isn’t really. First, get a 9 x 13 glass Pyrex baking dish that is 50% taller than a standard one. Otherwise, have oven cleaner on hand and prepare to open some windows at the end of the baking time, LOL!!

Ingredients first:

8 oven-ready lasagna noodles (these are available at Walmart and don’t have to be boiled before baking lasagna)

1-1/2 lbs ground beef

1 lb pork breakfast sausage

Sauce ingredients (in first paragraph)

3 cups cottage cheese

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (extra for sprinkling on top before baking)

1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced

I am going to break this down into stages. First, brown 1-1/2 lbs ground beef and 1 lb breakfast pork sausage. Drain fat. Add a 29-oz and a 15-oz can tomato sauce, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp dried basil, and 3/4 tsp dried oregano. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes.

In bowl, mix cottage cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and 2 Tbsp dried parsley.

In your lovely deep baking dish, put just enough tomato sauce mix to just cover the bottom of the pan (I try to avoid getting meat in this layer). Put 4 lasagna noodles across, overlapping slightly (boil noodles al dente if not using oven-ready noodles). Spread half of the cottage cheese mix over the noodles. Layer half of mozzarella cheese slices over top evenly (I buy a one-pound brick of cheese and slice it with my shredder/grater/slicer Kitchen Aid attachment). Put less than half the meat sauce evenly over that. Repeat layers one time (noodles, cheese mix, mozzarella cheese, and rest of meat sauce). Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. I often make this ahead and store it in the frig. I have to add about 15 minutes more baking time because it starts out so cold.

Once it is out of the oven (push a fork through all the layers to make sure the noodles are tender enough—the fork should go through very easily), let it sit, covered with foil for about 10 minutes. This makes the serving easier and the remaining lasagna in the pan doesn’t shift as much. 

Report back if you try this!

{Post 1,757} Better Than Christmas

 I got a box of scraps from a blog reader today (Hi, Paulette!). It was better than Christmas. I loved sorting and ogling the fabrics while I ate a quick lunch. I am so eager to add her scraps to mine. This AM I was not feeling very energetic. I did not sew at all Saturday or Sunday. I was going into withdrawals. I usually sew a little every single day. I was preparing space and then food for company. Whew—it was exhausting. 

Here is a peek of my goodie box. It’s not too late to add your scraps. Little pieces (at least 2” wide) are usable.

In other news, I have a new lasagna recipe. I only made it twice before yesterday. Both times it overflowed my pan while baking. I put in less sauce the second time. I guess those noodles plumped up more than I anticipated. I am not sure it’s obvious in the picture, but this is a 9 x 13 pan that is 50% taller than the usual ones. I etched “PARKER” on both the long sides (that helps at pot lucks!). I used oven ready noodles, too. It was a big hit yesterday, and I am so happy with my new baking dish.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

{Post 1,756} Send Me Your Scraps

There is a new book in my Kindle library called “Leave No Scrap Behind”. It is the theme of my quilting life. I am making the quilt called “Remainders”. I saw Jo from Jo’s Country Junction made it. Here is hers…

The quilt needs 720 3” square blocks. I made all the ones I have finished from the triangles cut off 2-1/2” wide strips when I make binding. I have been putting them all in a plastic canister. I pulled out all the cream,  brown (every shade from paper bag to dark chocolate) and ever shade of blue from teal/aqua/turquoise to navy. If you have some of this size triangle (they all actually vary a little in size), I would love to have your cast-offs. Let me make them into something beautiful! Email me for my mailing address.