Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It was a very Lego birthday...

The munchkin's big birthday party was this past Sunday, and I think it went really great. He says he had an awesome time at his birthday party and he can't wait to have another one next year. I sure can! Birthday parties sure can be a lot of work, but admittedly, I had a lot of fun working on this one.

Happy birthday munchkin!

The party theme was Legos, so we had lots of fun Lego decorations from the party store as well as a Lego crown that I made for the kiddo, using some fun Lego fabric I found on Spoonflower. I also picked up the Batman Lego minifigure shirt he's wearing in this photo on Etsy from a super fun shop called I Heart Bricks. They had tons of variety, from Ninjago to Star Wars and so on.

Lego cookies

We had the party at a local park, so the kids made good use of their two large playgrounds. We also had a brief scavenger hunt, where the kids searched for five paper Lego guys throughout the area of the park we were in, which was great until my munchkin ended up in tears because he didn't win. He snapped out of it when one of his friends consoled him by saying, "I don't always win, and it's okay," which was wonderful.

Find a Lego

For snacks, the kids had rectangular Club crackers with circles of Swiss and Cheddar cheese, as well as lots of ready-to-go snacks, like Pirate's Booty and Craisins. They also loved the Lego cookies I made, using some simple royal icing. The adults really enjoyed the Funfetti cake dip that I made and paired with animal crackers and Teddy Grahams. It was ridiculously tasty!

Lego Cake

I made the main cake for the party, a Lego cake, using some basic decorating instructions I found on the Betty Crocker site. The birthday boy was especially excited when he saw that the Lego knobs were actually marshmellows! The cake itself was one of my favorite cake recipes, the Barefoot Contessa's Beatty's Chocolate Cake.

Lego Cake - yum!

After cake time, the kids had some crafting time, with great coloring sheets from the Lego site as well as a scrapbook inspired activity, where the kids could glue their own hats, shirts, pants, and skirts to their own paper Lego minifigure. It was a great way to wind things down after all the fun.

Lego Party - Make a Minifig pices

Once we got the party cleaned up and packed up into the car, we ventured down to the beach area of the park and had a bit of fun running around on the sand and inspecting the plants and wildlife. It was gorgeous, until the mosquitoes started to take over.

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All in all, the party was great, the munchkin was a very happy, excited boy, and while it was great fun, I'm looking forward to getting back behind my sewing machine this week and working on my Juki machine cover! I hope you're having a great week so far :)
Friday, February 22, 2013

Modern Circuitry: Now on display at QuiltCon

Checking Instagram the last day or two has been sheer torture. Photos are flooding in from QuiltCon, and gosh, I wish I were there. I am lucky enough to have a few pieces of me there at QuiltCon, but gosh I wish I could be there to take it all in. The next one will be in 2015, and I definitely plan to be there!

One of my quilts on display at QuiltCon is featured in the Modern Quilts Unlimited booth, #308. Modern Quilts Unlimited is a fantastic new modern quilting magazine, and I was super excited when they selected one of my designs to share at their booth. This quilt is something I designed a while back, while dreaming of rich Art Gallery solids, and it was a lot of fun to finally put it together.

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The Art Gallery solids I used for this project are: Crystal Pink, Cabernet, Dark Citron, Light Citron, Cherry Lipstick, Festival Fuschia, Fresh Water, Empire Yellow, Burnt Orange, Tile Blue, Emerald, with Mystic Gray for the background and Caviar for the binding. You can find Art Gallery solids in stock at Intrepid Thread and Stash Modern Fabrics.

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This is also the quilt that I used my Clamshell Loop FMQ design on, the one in the tiny sneak peek photo! This was the first larger quilt that I used that FMQ technique on, and it was really fun and easy to do.

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I love how this quilt came together, and I am so happy that I got to see a photo of it on display in Austin at QuiltCon. Maybe next time, I can manage to have another quilt on display there and actually get a picture of me with it! Have a great weekend :)

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Quilt Stats:
name: Modern Circuitry
size: 48" x 60"
fabrics: Art Gallery Pure Elements solids in Crystal Pink, Cabernet, Dark Citron, Light Citron, Cherry Lipstick, Festival Fuschia, Fresh Water, Empire Yellow, Burnt Orange, Tile Blue, Emerald, with Mystic Gray for the background
pattern: by me for Modern Quilts Unlimited, handed out at QuiltCon and available to download here
quilting: Clamshell Loop by me in white 50 wt Aurifil thread
binding: Art Gallery Pure Elements solid in Caviar
Monday, February 18, 2013

A little fabric therapy

This week, I suspect my sewing machine might just collect a little bit of dust, and no, it's not because I'm going to QuiltCon, because sadly I'm not. Instead, I'm preparing for my son's fifth birthday bash, coming up this weekend, and getting my house clean for some company coming in this week. Cleaning is not my idea of fun, so I've been doing a wee bit of adding to my stash this past week in the form of some retail therapy.

I've snagged a fun stack of prints from Sweetwater's Noteworthy collection. I love the doodle-y feel of these prints, and the birds on the wire print is just gorgeous. Can't wait to use it. You can find Noteworthy in stock at Fat Quarter Shop.

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I couldn't resist picking up a few prints from Aneela Hoey's latest line, Posy. It's just perfect for low volume junkies, and there's a few fun stash builder prints in the line as well. You can find Posy in stock at Intrepid Thread.

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I also picked up 10 yards of this fantastic print from Ikea called Britten Number. I've been hunting for it ever since I saw Kelly use it in backing a quilt, and somehow my local Ikea was always out of stock. Thanks to a good quilty friend, Bree, who tipped me off to our local Ikea having some in stock, I scored big time. Now if only I could find a place to put it ;)

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I've been doing some intermittent fabric shopping on Ebay lately - hunting for out of print stuff mostly that I'm running out of, like this fun print from Wordplay. I'm going to be pretty sad when I reach the end of this print, because it's getting harder and harder to find!

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I do need to finish up this simple little applique t-shirt this week, however, so perhaps my machine will get a little bit of use. I found this super fun Lego inspired fabric on Spoonflower, and knew it was perfect to make the birthday boy a fun birthday shirt. And I've got some more fabric on its way, so stay tuned for some more stash additions later this week! Have a great Monday :)

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Fun: With a little help from my friends...

Last star for the Juki cover (December Lucky Stars block)

I'm pleased to tell you that I managed to finish up my third block for my new Juki cover yesterday, and it might be my favorite of the three. All three of these blocks come from the Lucky Stars BOM club, and the one in the center is next month's block, which just happens to be one of my favorites in the whole series.

Three Lucky Stars block for my new Juki cover

The problem is that now I have to commit to a background fabric for my cover. I'm postively torn, I just can't seem to decide...so would you please tell me which background is your favorite? Maybe some advice will help me make a choice! Please tell me which letter is your fave :)

Help! Which one of these background fabrics should I use for my Juki cover???

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for your help!
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One of my paper piecing secrets

At the TMQG sew day over the weekend, I chatted a good bit about paper piecing, and in doing so, I realized that I've never shared here about one of my favorite tools for paper piecing - my telescoping Ott-Lite.


On a whim, I picked it up at Jo-Ann's one week when they weren't on sale and I had a killer coupon, and I haven't regretted it a bit. My sewing room does get a good bit of natural light during the day, but I don't always get to sew during the day, so if I'm working at night, a super bright light is absolutely necessary for helping me see where I'm lining up my fabric.

nighttime paper piecing, thanks to the Ott-Lite

I also really like to use it when I free-motion quilt, because it really does give off a lot of light. I remember when I first saw these things at Jo-Ann's, I positively scoffed at them. I thought they were totally unnecessary and that the light couldn't be that different from a regular old light, but it truly is. If you are a blogger who likes to do tutorials, these lights are great for lighting any step-by-step photos you want to take in your sewing room, because the light doesn't look artificial, it looks very clean.

Do you have any unexpected tools that you swear by in your sewing room? I'd love to hear about them! Have a great day :)
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A little bit of paper piecing

The Tampa Modern Quilt Guild held its February meeting and sew day over the weekend at Inspire Quilting & Sewing. Thanks for allowing us to use your fantastic classroom space, Inspire! Between shopping and sewing and sharing projects, we had a fantastic time. I couldn't help picking up a few low volume stash builders, like this fabulous black and white How to Iron a Shirt print from Timeless Treasures.

My Feb block in progress

I brought a few different projects to work on, not sure of what I'd be in the mood for, and I wound up working on some blocks to make a cover for my Juki, with Olivia, who's working on a cover for her Viking. I'm using a few 6" Lucky Stars BOM blocks (the February, practice, and March blocks), and managed to get through two of the three blocks at the meeting.

Olivia's block on the left, mine on the right
Olivia's block in progress on the left, mine on the right

Olivia's blocks are going to be gorgeous, too. I had a lot of fun helping her get started with paper piecing, and she got the hang of it really quickly. I can't wait to see how all of her blocks turn out, I just love the whole pink and black color scheme!

Olivia's Feb block done!
Picture by Olivia

Just one more block to go for me, and then I can work on making the whole cover, so maybe by our March meeting, my Juki will show up fully dressed ;)

6" Feb and March, side by side

I hope you're having a great week so far!
Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Fun: A little bit of fabric, and a little bit of bagels

Thanks for all your lovely comments yesterday about my trek to preschool to talk about quilts - it was a lot of fun, and the children were just adorable. And they all went ga-ga over my munchkin's superhero quilt, which was really cute. Definitely put a smile on my face!

Speaking of putting a smile on my face, this little fabric bundle I put together for Sew Lux Fabrics puts a smile on my face. I'm calling it Preppy Sophisticate and it's on sale this weekend, through Sunday. I love mixing hot pink and green together, it absolutely reminds me of the preppy 80s, and also Jen Lancaster's super sarcastic memoirs. I also love the little pop of two low-volume gray prints from one of my all-time favorite collections, Half Moon Modern. What would you make with it?

Preppy Sophisticate bundle from Sew Lux Fabrics


Last but not least, I want to share a little recipe with you guys today for super easy bread machine bagels - that my friend Amber just made and has been enjoying immensely with her new bread maker. These bagels are incredibly tasty, make the house smell great, and can be customized to be whatever type of bagel flavor you like best.

photo by Amber/One Shabby Chick

Super Easy Bread Machine Bagels
source: can't remember - I've had it a long time, and I jotted it down on notebook paper, so who knows??
makes 9 bagels

you'll need:
1 cup warm water (between 108-112 degrees)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 T white sugar
3 c bread flour
I envelope of active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp if you're measuring from a tub)
3 q boiling water
3 T white sugar
1 T cornmeal
1 egg white
toppings: Usually I turn mine into everything bagels, sprinkling them with minced onion flakes, garlic salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

1. Place warm water, salt, sugar, flour and yeast in the bread machine pan in the order your instruction manual indicates. Select Dough setting.

2. When Dough cycle is complete, take out pan and let dough rest on a lightly floured surface. Meanwhile, in a large pt, bring 3 qts of water to a boil. Stir in 3 T of sugar.

3. Cut dough into 9 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a small ball. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand. Poke a hole in the middle of each using your thumb. Twirl the dough on your finger, or thumb, to make the hole bigger, and to even out the dough around the hole. Cover the shaped bagels with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

4. Sprinkle an ungreased baking sheet 1T cornmeal. This will prevent the bagels from sticking, so it's important, don't skip it! Start preheating the oven now, to 375. Carefully transfer the bagels, one by one, to the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, turning halfway. Drain briefly on a clean towel. Arrange boiled bagels on baking sheet. Glaze the tops with egg white and sprinkle any toppings you'd like on top.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375, until well browned. Let cool before eating - trust me, they are super hot!

Have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend!
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Q is for Quilt

I'm heading back to school today...to my son's preschool, that is, to talk about quilts. It's Q week at school, and well, are there really any better words in the alphabet that start with Q? I don't think so! My kiddo is so excited to have mommy come to talk to the kids about what quilts are and how I make them, and I'm excited too, because I know that I won't always get that kind of a warm reception from my kiddo.

Q is for Quilt

I'm bringing some fabric for them to pet, some simple patchwork in progress, a finished quilt or two, and some fun coloring pages so they can get in touch with their inner quilter! Later on today, they'll be making their own paper quilt as a class, which is pretty cool. I can't wait to see how it comes together. He's bringing in his baby quilt (my first quilt) for his turn for Show and Tell today, which he's awfully excited about.

SMBQ - Zoology Baby Quilt

In other news, I've been working hard on a few deadline projects that I can't share at the moment, but the good news is that one is nearly finished, and here's a sneak peek of it. Playing with these gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics has been a lot of fun, as always. If you haven't tried Art Gallery fabrics before, you absolutely must. From the fantastically soft hand and drape to the gorgeous colors you'll find in their collections, you will be a very happy fabric hoarder/quilter once you give them a try! You can find Art Gallery Fabrics at Intrepid Thread, Stash Modern Fabric and soon at Pink Castle Fabrics as well. Have a wonderful Thursday :)

Phew, one deadline project nearly done

Monday, February 4, 2013

Time for a winner!

Happy Monday to you all! I hope you had a great weekend :) I spent most of my weekend teaching at my local quilt shop, which was a great deal of fun, and also teaching my munchkin how to do some various chores around the house. He's got a knack for dusting already!

I had a great time reading your wonderful comments over the weekend about your favorite FMQ stitches, and your experiences with FMQ. I hope to do more tutorials and tips when it comes to FMQ throughout the year, because it truly is one of my favorite parts of the quilting process. I owe you all a winner this morning, so drumroll, please...the winner of the Orange You Glad It's Friday bundle from Intrepid Thread is....


Lucky #204 (even though this photo only shows the #4, she's truly #204.) Melanie!! Congratulations! I'll be emailing you momentarily to get your address information.

What are you up to this Monday morning? I'm heading out to the UPS store to send off some quilts to QuiltCon. I'm still bummed that I can't make it out to QuiltCon myself, but at least some of my quilts will be there in my place. I spent the weekend adding labels and hanging sleeves to these three, which are headed to the QuiltCon quilt show (eek!!)...


And there's two more quilts that are headed to the show floor, so keep your eyes peeled for them, if you're headed to Austin in a few weeks. Have a wonderful Monday!
Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Fun: The Clamshell Loop Tutorial

Happy Friday! One of my goals this year is to try to share more tutorials with you guys - it's the least I can do to thank you for all of your support here on my blog. Today's tutorial is a free motion quilting one - I love free-motioning, and I absolutely love teaching it to others as well. This FMQ stitch is a simple continuous line design I'm calling the Clamshell Loop. It's an easy and pretty fun to boot.

Clamshell Loop FMQ on solid

This is a linear design, so you'll either need to mark your quilt top for this design, or FMQ this design on a quilt with lots of patchwork that you can use as your lines. For the photos in this tutorial, I created a small quilt sandwich, and drew lines with a ruler and a Frixion pen. Frixion pens are handy for marking because they disappear when heat is applied, like from an iron.

Before I try any new FMQ style, I always doodle it a few times with a Sharpie to get the hang of the motion of the stitch. A quick warning: I doodle the opposite direction the I stitch in. I doodle from left to right, just the same way that I write. But I quilt from right to left, so just keep that in mind when following this tutorial. To doodle this design, simply follow the arrows on the diagram below.

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Now, when I sit at my sewing machine to FMQ, I make sure to begin by placing my needle in what will become the binding area, and stitch a few stitches in place, to create a knot, then begin to stitch in an arc to the left, as shown below.

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I sew the first arc, moving from right to left, and creating a loop that moves counter-clockwise, leading into the next connected arc, and so forth. I then continue into the third clamshell, the fourth, and so on, until I finish a row.

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Then, I begin all over again, moving my quilt sandwich so that I'm back on the right edge of the quilt again, and stitch another row. This stitch gives lots of great texture to a finished quilt, even when you look at it through a print, rather than a solid fabric.

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You can experiment with the width of your clamshells, with the size of your loops, and create a lot of different looks with this one stitch. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you follow this tutorial, I'd love to see your progress in my Flickr group, Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy.

Clamshell Loop FMQ on solid

Clamshell Loop FMQ on a print

I recently used this FMQ style for a project that's headed to QuiltCon, but I can't show you much more than this just yet. Very soon, I promise!

Can't show you more yet, but I promise it's pretty!

Let me make it up to you - the fantastic Julie of Intrepid Thread is giving away a super fun fat quarter bundle that I've put together, which would be so amazing in my new Wheel of Fortune pattern - this bundle is called Orange You Glad It's Friday. To enter, simply tell me about your favorite FMQ stitch. Never tried FMQ before? Tell me which FMQ stitch or style you'd love to master. This giveaway ends Sunday 2/3 at midnight EST. A winner will be announced on Monday. Have a great weekend! THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Friday Fun Giveaway thanks to Intrepid Thread
 hello

Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy six year old boy and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?

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