Quilt Finish! Clover & Violet QAL

Yay I finished my first full-size quilt! This was a part of the Clover and Violet Embroidery 101: Stitch and Quilt Along that I started last summer. To be fair though, I didn’t really do much with it until September. I finished the top in October but it got put to the side with Christmas coming up (and no money to buy backing fabric with!). Then, in April, I was inspired by Jenelle finishing her Embroidery 101 quilt and the realization that if I wanted to use Just Wing It (the fabric from the top) on the backing, I was going to have to get a move on it as it was going to disappear from shop shelves pretty soon. I have to say it was tough to find as much as I did!

quilt front

The quilt measures approximately 1.5 meters square, which is a nice cozy couch size. I quilted it in straight lines down the middle of each colored side of the boxes.. I probably should have done a bit more and quilted on each side of the seam – it’s pretty lightly quilted. As I don’t have a walking foot for my machine (yet!), I took it to Sew Over It in Clapham North to quilt it and it took me just over an hour to do it. Side note, if you need to sew something but want to get out of the house to do so, check them out – they’re great! I bound it in the same pink as I used in the sashing squares. It isn’t from the Just Wing It line, I just picked it up at a fabric shop when I finished the top – it was super cheap ;)

I love the back waaaay more than I thought I would. I was really nervous that it was going to be too jarring and bright. Now I absolutely LOVE it! I used the scraps from the top (I can’t believe I still had them!) as well as some of the extra pink from the binding to create the scrappy strip in the middle.

All the embroidery was done with perle cotton, which I now looove! It gives a really nice tactile yet really smooth appearance to the work. Love it :)

Top row of embroidered blocks – bird house, bunting/garden, and flower.

Middle row of embroidered blocks – wishing well, bird, and flowers.

Middle row of embroidered blocks – flowers, wishing well, and picnic.

I think it looks pretty good on the back of the couch – it might be hard to give away, but I know the person who’ll receive it, really deserves it. Plus, it gives me a reason to make another one!

Ooh! I also have a baby quilt that I started on Monday and I still need to finish piecing the top, assemble th back, quilt it, and bind it, all by the 13th! Wish me luck! I’m going to need it!

Linked up here.

Dreaming of summer – Colette Sorbetto and Garden Wall

One of my New Year’s goals (I don’t like resolutions, I just like to live well), was to make an article of clothing for myself. After much hemming and hawing, I have decided to attempt the Colette Sorbetto in a nice summery print.

I chose this lovely bird print from The Village Haberdashery. It’s a little bit out of my comfort zone – large scale print. But I love the color and think the print is really pretty.. I can’t wait to start sewing – the pattern is cut out and tonight the fabric is being cut.. always the scariest part! Hopefully I can have it done in time to bring to the LMQG meeting in May – then I would have 2 things to bring!

Strawberries and Cream Tart

Gavin and I had another couple over for dinner the other weekend and as it was a low-key sort of deal, I wasn’t planning on making a dessert. When I told him that, however, he gave me a sharp look and declared that German’s expect dessert so I better figure something out. Luckily, with some sweet pastry dough in the freezer leftover from making Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Pie Cookies and Julia Child’s Kitchen Wisdom at hand, I decided upon a strawberry and cream tart. Make ahead, serve at room temp*, doesn’t need a lot of ingredients: perfect.

I won’t lie to you, I cheated a bit.. I didn’t actually make an apricot glaze – I just used apricot jam. I also didn’t use a tart pan (obviously) or glaze the strawberries. What I did was create something tasty and satisfying without feeling too heavy. It’s easy as pie. Easier actually.

What you need:
a punnet (or 2) of strawberries
pastry dough, storebought or homemade
thick double cream (Julia used Pastry Creme or Creme Patissere – too much work for me)
apricot jam or glaze

What to do:

1. Roll out pastry dough on a floured board/counter in a rectangular shape until about a quarter inch thick. Place onto a parchment/greaseproof paper covered baking sheet. Spread apricot jam over dough, keeping about 2 inches or so free on all sides. Follow with cream.. I was pretty heavy handed, although Julia says to use up to 1/4 inch! Arrange hulled strawberries in an appealing pattern. I didn’t have enough strawberries so I cut them in half. Not as pretty but just as tasty. If you have enough strawberries to put them in whole, glaze them with the apricot jam.

2. Bake in a on oven pre-heated to 190C/375F for about 30-45 minutes or until strawberries are softened, crust is toasty brown, and cream is bubbling.

3. Eat. You can either serve it warm, letting it sit for a moment to allow the cream to firm up a bit, or, like me, bake it ahead of time and serve it at room temp. Ice cream? Fabulous. Pouring cream? Divine.

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A tiny party dress for a sweet baby

My boss and his wife welcomed their third child, Astrid, to the world a month ago. I knew I had to make something for them as they the reason why I’m here in the UK. Seeing as this is their third child, I figured they had everything practical that they could need, so I decided to make them something they would want. So I made a little party dress :)

I used this pattern from Made by Rae. There are two sizes in the pattern – newborn and 0-3 month. Since she was a month old, I decided to make the larger one. Too bad little Astrid is so tiny she still won’t fit! I think I may have also made the skirt too long.. Oh well. She can wear it this summer.

I’m not sure what the material is on the bodice, but the skirt is some Liberty print I had left over from making little Noel’s baby quilt. I love that it’s girly without being pink. The skirt also has French seams to give that little bit of extra luxury and class that Liberty prints deserve ;)

I would like to make it again, but I think I would make the lining of the top be a different print to make it really stand out. I’d also buy pre-made piping and bias tape! I also have a little proto-type going around in my head to make one with a onesie/babygro bottom inside so that it won’t ride up. We’ll see if I get around to that though!

Since I couldn’t give something just to baby, I gave this with some homemade blackberry jam for her parents and siblings. It was all wrapped in kraft paper and topped with some hand-painted hearts as tags.

Pink Castle Blogger Bundle Competition

I love the idea of building my own fabric bundles and if I didn’t have to work and I had endless money and storage, I could do it all day long! So when I saw that Katy from i’m a ginger monkey has teamed up with Pink Castle Fabric to run a contest doing just that, I knew I was in.

The question was asked, “if you were chief bundle maker what would you choose?”

This is what I would choose:

Rows, top to bottom

  1. Wild Flowers in Blue, Wall Flower in New Day, Vines in Green
  2. Punctuation Dot in Black, Calico Cactus in Piney Woods, Meadow in Green
  3. Sundae Stripe in Gray, Herringbone in Lake, Rose Bouquet in Gold
  4. Heath in Chartreuse, Coreopsis in Sugar, Prairie Rose in Piney Woods

So what are you waiting for? Go make yours and post it here!

Slow-cooker Mexican Chicken

A slow-cooker is a funny thing, something I never thought I would want/need. Just another unitasker that takes up precious counter space. Boy was I wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it! This thing is great! I use it to cook stews and lovely braises while I’m at work. While it is hard to find recipes that a.) can be cooked for 10+ hours, and b.) don’t inlcude “cream of whatever” soups, I have found some recipes that are amazing. This is one of them. It’s even one of the kind that doesn’t require anything other than dumping and mixing. My favorite. It does include taco seasoning (fajita in the UK) though.. So my homemade credentials are blown!

I pinned this from my friend who got it here. I’m actually making things I’m pinning so go me! Pinterest Challenge success all the way!

So without further ado, the recipe.

Slow-cooker Chilli Lime Mexican Chicken
adapted from Pip and Ebby

You’ll need:
chicken (breasts or thighs, I uses boneless, skinless breasts)
jar of salsa
packet of taco/fajita seasoning
2 limes
tortillas (I prefer soft corn, but whatever you prefer)

Step one: Put 4 chicken breasts or 6 thighs (defrosted) in slow cooker. Dump in a taco seasoning packet or if you aren’t lazy like me, mexican spices like cumin and coriander, etc. I added that anyways… Then dump in a jar of salsa (mine was small). Mix that all up til it’s all coated. Then chop up some garlic, a chilli (or 2 depending on how hot you like it!), a big handful of coriander/cilantro and add that along with the juice of a lime. Cook for 10 hours on low (or less, it’s not crucial)

Step two: When you get in, make some chilli garlic lime rice. Yeah buddy, this stuff is good! Make rice as usual but add a chopped chilli, garlic cloves and the zest of a lime. Once cooked, fluff up and add the juice of the lime. Prepare the tortillas by either microwaving in a damp towel or (like microwave-free me) put it on the burner and move it a lot til it’s hot.

Step three: Assemble! Put the tortilla on a plate and add rice and a chicken breast – careful, they fall apart! Top with scallions/spring onions, tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream (or plain greek yogurt, like me!). I also served some red cabbage cole slaw with it which was sooo tasty! To eat the leftovers at work, I put the extra rice, chicken and sauce in a container, cabbage, tomatoes and yogurt in another and ate it more like a saucy rice dish. Mmmm…

Overall, this bad boy is going to be a keeper and a regular in our household. If this sounds like a lot of work, it totally isn’t. Easy peasy. And super delicious. And healthy! No added oils or fats (other than the sour cream/yogurt).


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Weekend project – Quilt top

OK… I lied a little bit.. this actually took two weekends to finish. But it was surprisingly fast to put together (I went out for dinner and drinks on Saturday and I still got it done!) and I’m really happy with it. Happy enough to show you a little sneak peek I took with my phone.

Oh yeah, see that massive basket off to the left? That was supposed to be my laundry basket. I apparently got my metric mixed up and what I thought was millimeters was actually centimeters. When it arrived at work, I got some serious laughs. And I made Gavin carry it home for me. On the Tube. During rush hour. We were not popular. Anyways, the quilt:

I clearly am too excited to wait until the weekend when I can take better photos to show you this bad boy. You’ll get a double dose with better photos next week. Potentially, even with a back made.. I’m making that next weekend. Yeah. I’m serious about this guy.

The story with this guy is last year, I bought a fat quarter bundle of Riley Blake’s Hoo’s in the Forest from Stitch Steals. I was planning on using them for a quilt for Kitty, Gavin’s niece, for a Christmas present, but time (and money) got away from me so I decided it would be perfect for this year’s present.

I used Fresh Lemon’s Quilts Kaleidoscopic Kites pattern but didn’t use the rainbow theme – obviously. It was fun, but a bit of a mind-f**k to figure out the layout. Quick to sew up, no bias cuts, and really dramatic when it’s done!

Don’t forget to sign up for the Pay it Forward fun!

**I just realized that I pinned this quilt top onto my “make this” board so it’s eligible for the Pin Addict Challenge! Woo! Having this stuff “finished” makes me feel so accomplished!

Linked up to Sew Happy Geek and Canoe Ridge Creations

Valentines Coasters

I am not really one to decorate for (or even celebrate) “minor” holidays – Valentines Day, Easter, etc.. but this year I decided to break the mold. It also helps that my Quilt Guild is having a February challenge. And I needed coasters. I have a TON of fabric with iron on transfer left over from Suzanne’s baby shower. So I made these bad boys:

They have a heart in (cheater) reverse applique on the front, and then a four-square patchwork on the back. They came together pretty quick and I’m super happy with them. I think I like the backs the best :) And check me out.. using fabric that could be x’s and o’s.. so cute!

I’m thinking of maybe hand-quilting around the heart on the front to reinforce the ironed on fabric and to also add the cut out hearts to the back.. Not sure yet though! Any ideas or input are welcome!

I’m pretty happy with the fact that they fit our mugs! Go me and my measuring!

Don’t forget to enter in the Pay it Forward! I’m linking this to Sew Happy Geek and Lines Across my Face

Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread

Success! I actually completed my first ever Pinterest Challenge! I joined a bit late, so I only had a weekend to make it so I made food. Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread.. Tasty. I actually ate some for breakfast. It’s pull-apart so I couldn’t eat too big of a piece ;)

It was pretty simple to make, I’m not sure if I’ll make it again though.. I bit too white-bread-y and dry for me.. Maybe I just didn’t have enough garlic or butter! If I do make it again, I’m going to at least double those.. If I’m to splurge on fat calories, I’m going to splurge on the fat calories – you know? The Pastry Affair version that I pinned, used a bundt pan, which I don’t have, so I used a baking dish. Worked fine. We dipped in oil and balsamic.. yummy :)

PS… Do you want to join in the Pay it Forward fun?

Want to Pay it Forward?

Apparently my specialty in life is procrastinating… I signed up a while ago at Jenelle’s blog, Echinops and Asters for a Pay it Forward (PiF in bloggy/sewing speak!) and I hadn’t yet put up my post that gets the ball rolling. Read the rules (full disclosure, I borrowed these rules from Jenelle. She had put them so perfectly! Jenelle, if you mind, I’ll take them down/change them!) and if you are still interested, comment!

1. I will make a crafty gift for each of the first three people to comment on this post. This little gift is a surprise, and will arrive to you anytime within the next 365 days.

2. To sign up to pay it forward, you need to commit to the project yourself… so you can pay it forward too! Just post this, or something similar on your blog so others can get involved.

3. You need to have an active blog of your own…(or some other way to post up your PiF info like a flickr, pinterest, or facebook account. Basically you’ll need a place to announce your own PiF and to post some pics of the process.)

4. After commenting on this post, post something similar on your blog…so you can spread the pay it forward love. I will email you asking for your mailing address (and the online address where you are posting) so I can get your little treat in the mail. (Please make sure that your email address is visible on your profile or leave it in the comment.)