Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Next Stages

Picking up where I left off last time, here are the next phases of my first quilt! Again, to get more information about the source of this pattern and tips about starting your first quilting project, see my previous post: Adventures in Quilting

Last I wrote, I had laid out my plan for my freshly cut squares. Below are the pictures of working on sewing and ironing my front and border to my quilt (in my craft room pre-makeover!). 


The first few rows all sewed together and the seams on the back freshly pressed.

 

Look at it grow!! All the inner-rows all pieced and sewn together!



Now the border has been added. I just LOVE that deep, bright orange around the lighter yellows, creams and sherberts!
All ironed and ready to be "sandwiched," basted and quilted!

















The next step was to "sandwich" the front patchwork fabric and solid backing fabric around the cotton batting. I used curved, quilter's pins that I bought from Jo-Ann's. As pointed out in the video I listed in my previous post, you can also use basting spray adhesive to baste the quilt.

I laid out my backing fabric and then layered my Warm & Natural Crib-Sized Batting (again from Jo-Ann Fabrics) on top of it.












Then I laid the front of the soon-to-be quilt on top of the batting to complete the "quilt sandwich."











After that, I trimmed the back fabric and the batting to leave about a 2-inch border around the edge of the front (this will help account for any accidental shifting of the fabric during the quilting process).










After trimming the fabric down, you're ready to start pinning all three layers together. It is best to start from the center and work your way outward towards the edges of the quilt.



Once I reached the edge of the front's fabric I stopped pinning, since I would not be sewing over the edges of the batting.











Now, it is all set to go and start preparing for the actual quilting in the sewing machine!! This was probably the most exciting part of the process (next to the cutting... and the arranging... and the sewing, ironing, sandwiching, and basting! lol ok so EVERY part was my favorite part).

Next, I added painter's tape as a quilting guide to help make straight, even lines.

Again, you can refer to my previous post to see the resource I used to learn this trick.


Once the tape is centered and in place, just roll the sides in so that the quilt will fit through the machine.



So, the first row I completed just using my regular foot... MISTAKE! I FINALLY understand why a walking foot is SUPER important for quilting. It guarantees even, consistent stitches by gripping the bottom AND the TOP of the fabric as it feeds through the machine. Since my machine was a special "Millenium Edition" from White and is no longer in production, I ordered a generic, low-shank walking foot from Amazon. It has really saved my butt in this project! If you need a walking foot, and your machine is older or doesn't have a walking foot specific to your model here is a great link that will show you how to determine the shank/shaft size of your machine so you can order a generic one.


Then, sew on either side of the tape!
Front after quilting
Back after quilting (again, the "uneveness" of stitches due to lack of a walking foot is pretty obvious here)
  
Then just move your strip of tape and add another strip to either side of the rows just stitched and build your quilting outwards.



















Exciting, right? Again, I STRONGLY recommend investing in a walking foot! If you have one or have bought one and are not sure how to properly install/use it then use this video: Installation and Use of a Walking Foot by SewingPartsOnline.

I have a decent amount of quilting done thus far, but I want to make a little more progress before posting any more updates! Wish me luck!! :D

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Adventures in Quilting

This past summer and fall have just been filled with adventures for me! Not only have I been redecorating, but I also decided to add another, new fiber art to my personal repertoire: Quilting!

Quilting has been something I have been interested in attempting for YEARS, and this summer I finally decided to go for it! This urge to attempt quilting came about because I had busted out my old sewing machine to mend some tears in my jean shorts using lace patches (mega-cute, by the way). Playing with my sewing machine and cutting/sewing fabric re-sparked the my excitement about sewing. I thought to myself, "it's time to take this machine and my sewing skills to the next level!"

So, I started researching beginner tips, tricks and patterns for quilting. I found some great YouTube videos (see list below) and then started the fabric experiments. I had a bunch of old scrap fabric from years past, and started practicing my cutting and measuring skills. After some playing around with my basic fabric shears and a ruler, I realized that if I was going to seriously attempt this, I would need the actual tools of the trade. I started shopping on Amazon because, quite frankly, I can almost ALWAYS find things cheaper there than in any store (plus I have a Prime account, so the two-day free shipping is UNBEATABLE)! :)

When I got my self-healing cutting mat (pink of course), Fiskars rotary cutter, and fabric pencils I couldn't be more excited!


I started practicing my cutting skills again immediately! Once I was satisfied with how I was shaping my scrap pieces, it was time to hit the nearest Jo-Ann's to stock up on supplies for my first official quilt. To prepare my first quilting pattern, that was both pretty AND possible for me, I utilized several great tutorials I found online. Since I am the type of person that prefers to use multiple resources when learning, rather than depending on one, sole source of information, I have lised the different sites I used to create a pattern/learn how to quilt. :)  Check them out: 

I was lucky enough to have the Husband accompany me to Jo-Ann Fabrics AND have the patience to help me pick out fabric for my first quilt! He is just TOO good to me! :) I was immediately drawn to this bright orange fabric with subtle, small swirls. I decided this first quilt was going to be somewhat monochromatic or (more accurately) mono-tonal. I chose all orange or yellow based fabrics with differing shades to bring some contrast to the project. I then chose the backing fabric to be a light yellow.


I used my iPad drawing app (of all things!) to sketch out the size of the squares 5.5" to make a crib-sized blanket of 40"x40" with the border consisting of 8 squares by 8 squares.
Love my electronic drawing skills?? ;)

So I finished cutting all of my squares:



Then started laying out the pattern on the floor:




I started with the inner squares, alternating them at random.  



 Then I laid out the border (the original bright orange fabric that inspired the project)...

..And surrounded the body of the quilt with the border.


Then I used scrap fabric to label each rows, so as not to lose track when sewing them together. 


In my next post I will show the next few steps I have completed thus far: sewing the squares together to create a full front of the quilt; "sandwiching" the front, batting, and back pieces and trimming as necessary; basting the quilt; and beginning the actual quilting using the painter's tape method!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Craft Room

I have finally finished my new craft room!! I finished the final coat of paint on the window sills; reassembled my yarn cubbbies; and even was able to get some new curtain sheers for the windows from target! Yay!

This post is pretty much going to be short, sweet, and to the point! Essentially, I am just excited to show all the love and hard work I put into my new crafting space! :)

BEFORE:
Notice all the dark blue swirls? Those were just a peach to paint over! ;) First, I had to sand them down a bit and them prime a few times! I started the room with an old desk of Husband's but then Mega Desk was born! (Plus Husband has his guitar set up so he could play while I was sewing! So sweet! Right? ;) I haven't mentioned that I started to learn how to quilt! But that's another post for another day).








AFTER:
The paint is "Garden Shed by Martha Stewart and can be bought at Home Depot and VERY fairly priced!.The trim paint was also from Home Depot and was a special "gel" trim paint by Glidden. Very shiny, smooth and crisp! Just keep in mind it requires a paint solvent to clean of your brushes (I learned that the hard way lol).  The sheers (from Target) were pretty AND well-priced. And then of course there is my personal masterpiece: MEGA DESK!! You can see my previous post about the creation of Mega Desk here. I also bought some cans of white, glossy spray paint and painted my chocolate cubby a crisp white.










Friday, September 27, 2013

Paprikash

There is the unspoken between food and women, at least in my family. Quite frankly, it's amazing we are not all a thousand pounds! But this connection is more than just a simple love of all things food... It is about how food, cooking, sharing recipes and carrying on old family recipes and traditions bond us as women. There is nothing like cooking an old family recipe to connect you to your roots or to make you feel the love of your family. I think this is why I enjoy cooking, both old and new recipes, because you can infuse love into your cooking. For me, saying "i love you" can be as simple as making that person's favorite dish. For example, I learned this fettuccine alfredo recipe when I was in high school and it became a family favorite, especially for my mom. So, during the winter, when I invite my parents over for dinner my go to dish is that alfredo because it is the best way to non-verbally say: "Welcome to my home! Make yourself comfortable. I'm so happy you are here! I love you!" Well this past weekend, I was really craving traditional family food. My Mom, Aunt, and Gramma all had always talked about how wonderful my great-gramma's Chicken Paprikash recipe was. And it was the most perfect fall day to try out this recipe for the first time AND in our new house, nonetheless!

Some BACKGROUND first:
My Great-great Grandmother was an immigrant from Hungary in the early 1900s. She opened a restaurant in Cleveland around the time of the Great Depression. She had managed to keep the place afloat during the first few years after the crash, but because of her big heart she had been giving food away at no charge to those who had lost everything (which was almost everyone) to the Depression. Eventually, her goodwill led to the restaurant also going under. Her Chicken Paprikash was one of those recipes.

Now, that being said the family recipes from my Hungarian ancestors, were notoriously just passed on word-of-mouth to the next generation. In fact, finding documented recipes was rare! It always amde me and Sister laugh because we'd be prepping for a family get together making potato salad for a BBQ or Nut Roll for the holidays and every year it would be this "guessing" game: "No! You're cutting the potatoes too small/No, you're cutting them too big!" or "That needs more salt/NO MORE SALT!" And then my Mom, Aunt and Gramma would look at us apologetically and say something along the lines of, "This is what happens when recipes aren't written down" while simultaneously justifying the beauty in the fact that recipes were still alive.

GETTING STARTED:
So, when I called my Gramma last weekend to get the Paprikash recipe, I wasn't suprised to hear on the other end of the phone a hesitant, "Oh... um I don't think I have that written down, hun!" In fact, I expected nothing more! But she happened to have bought an old Hungarian recipe book many years ago, so she pulled that recipe out. Together, utilizing the recipe book and Gramma's memory of watching her mom make Paprikash we pulled together how to make it. Then, after attempting to find pre-made spaetzle, I called Mom about to tell her that I was resigned to using egg noodles when she said, "WHAT?! You have to make dumplings! You will cry if you eat it without dumplings!" So, she told me that even though no one had formally written down the dumpling dough recipe, she had jotted down her own "approximations" for the flour, egg and water combo.

So, I was ready to go! I had my "thrown-together" recipes and determination to make this family classic!

THE RESULT: 
Not to be obnoxiously vain, but I seriously kicked ass!! :) The dumplings were awesome (some a bit large in the initial attempts but I reigned it in) and the sauce almost made me weep! It was the most BIZARRE experience... it was like that scene near the end of "Ratatouille” when the critic, Anton Ego, tastes Remy’s dish and he is immediately swept back to his mom making ratatouille when he was a kid.


I took a bite and was taken to some distant memory, only I don’t know what/where/when that memory was... and each sense had a different association with it... the smell made me immediately picture my Grammas's kitchen from when I was a very young child... the taste and smell combined made me picture my Aunt's dining room around Advent time, and my sister, cousins and I were running around the house and dining table.... the taste/texture/look of the dumplings by themselves made me think of my Mom’s old kitchen and the first time I ever watched her make dumplings... 

The funny part is that none of these (other than watching my mom make dumplings for the first time) are specific moments that I particularly remember. Rather, they feel like a collection of memories, emotions or thoughts that were pulled lightning fast out of my subconscious. Then while I was actually spooning the dumpling dough into the boiling pot of water, Husband was standing next to me and we were laughing and I suddenly had the STRONGEST moment of déjà vu!!! Like that moment, that conversation, that laughter had already taken place, but again I couldn’t tie to a specific memory or dream... it was so unbelievably overwhelming and strong! And VERY emotional too!! Cooking this meal, made me feel connected to all the women in my life (both present and past)

That connection is the gift that this food can give me. As I watched my hands form the dough, and stir the sauce, and cook the dumplings, I could imagine the many generations of women in my family doing the same in years past. It just shows the true power of food and cooking... it is this bonding agent between generations long gone and those still here; cooking together can keep us more connected here in the present; and, of course, family recipes are DELICIOUS! and they take you back to some of your best memories. 





Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'm baaaaaccckkk... :)

Ok, yet ANOTHER hiatus from writing! But I am back! :D It has been a crazy couple years. As you can see from the previous post, I had started writing a new post about a year ago about post-wedding awesomness, but somehow that had fallen by the wayside.

My time is more and more divided these days and yet I have the urge to add "get back to bloggin', darnit" to my plate. Graduate school continues to get more hectic and time consuming (as it should, I suppose). I have found that my passion for counseling has been rekindled thus far this semester, which has been invigorating! It makes the fact that I am constantly on campus (which is now an hour away from my new home) less tiresome.

That's right! The husband and I bought our first home this summer! Yet another update that is worth writing about! With hubby starting a new job, we felt the need to start "settling" down, something I have pretty much dreamed about since I was 4. We started house hunting and bought a house in April and moved in this June! It has been quite the whirlwind, but quite the blessing also! It really did not take a lot of adjusting, surprisingly. I am one to believe in fate, and we became so "at-home" in our new home so quickly that I cannot help but say it was our destiny to move here.

One of my favorite parts of the new home is the fact that we have four bedrooms but just the two of us, so you know what that means?! *Dun DundunDUN* My very own CRAFT ROOM!!! :D WOOhoo! Suffice it to say that this was the first room to get a MAKEOVER!

I think the best part is that I love colors sooo much and I love so MANY colors that I was pretty flexible about how to paint/decorate it! I had started out thinking - BOLD! Bold, bright colors that captured the fun that would take place in such a room... Think: Gypies, World Market, Pier 1, etc. I love bold and bright! Then as I explored paint colors, "paint-a-room apps" and Home Depot (Martha Stewart is a GENIUS with color!) I accidentally fell in love with a much softer, gentler color: Garden Shed by the amazing Martha!
sorry the pic is a bit blurry...

This color coupled with design ideas I found on Pinterest (my newfound addiction) I decided to change gears and go in the direction of "shabby chic garden" for the craft room. I felt that these softer colors will help to allow the bright colors of my yarn, paints, and papers to speak for themselves. I decided to compliment this soft green with CRISP, BRIGHT, white trim. And quite frankly, I am MORE than pleased with the result! It seriously beyond exceeded my expectations!!! (I'll post pics in the next post).

I also found on Pinterest some of the most AWESOME craft desks I have EVER seen!!! Tall, island-like tables with cubbies and shelves for legs! There was only one problem, such a desk cost WAY more than I am willing to pay (or could even afford, for that matter).  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this desk, with the see through top to look at the contents of my drawers and the awesome storage right in it, but it just WASN'T gonna happen! 

Then I found photos of others' "Build Your Own" desk" and it got me thinking... I am capable of something like this! It wouldn't cost as much AND I could customize to EXACTLY MY liking! But again, I was met with a bit of road block. Not only, did I not want to buy all that lumber, but I also did not have a saw, nail gun, place to build it, experience, etc. BUT I did have something! 
I had an old kitchen table that I had bought at Wal*Mart years ago! A table with a natural, hard-wood (not that laminate stuff) and whose faux, rod-iron legs had been removed and re-attached so many times from all the moving over the years, had become quite shaky and unstable. I decided I was going to use that table top as the start of my own DIY Craft Desk. I then recalled where my mom had purchased my yarn cubby from a few birthdays back - TARGET. And I started to piece together a plan to build an affordable desk within my means to assemble. At target I scoped out several of their organizers: 3 sets of single-columned cubbies and one shorter storage cabinet, all in a crisp white to match the rooms trim. They were VERY reasonably priced and super easy to assemble! I then (with the help of my awesome dad, attached the shelves and cabinet to the bottom of the table top (after removing the old, shaky legs first). The result? Tee best craft table I could ever have imagined!




+





=
MEGA DESK!!!
So there it is!! My latest masterpiece!!! :D All-in-all it cost UNDER $100 to make up and I got to re-purpose a tabletop that I loved! I cannot even express how much I love the final product!! I had initially planned on painting the table top white as well, but as soon as I saw it put together I changed my mind - I LOVE the contrast of the white and natural wood top (coincidentally it matches the hardwood flooring PERFECTLY!) 

Not only do I have easy-access storage at my fingertips, it is the PERFECT height too! I just have a lower stool (higher than a desk chair, lower than a bar stool) to sit on! You can see the wall colors here a bit too, but I am waiting to give the FULL "before & after" of the craft room until the next post - something to look forward to, right? ;)

Sadie, Sadie...

So I found the below post sitting in my drafts from over a year ago!! Oops! I need to start being a more diligent blogger ;) well now that hubby and I just celebrated out ONE YEAR Wedding anniversary :D the post is a little outdated but still relevant ;)


       

8/31/12

I have finally returned from my blogging hiatus! The chaos around me has settled... I have started my second year of graduate school in stride and the wedding day has come and gone.

On July 28th I enjoyed the best day of my life and married my best friend, high school sweetheart and soul-mate! There was so much planning and excitement leading up to the day, and in a quick flurry it was all over... and now I'm a "Sadie, Married Lady." It has been such a dream come true; it still feels like we are playing "house."

Some fun quick things about my life as a new married woman! I may have embraced some "Pre-women's lib" ideals, but I really have enjoyed playing wife for my new husband. What I have mostly noticed is that a lot of being a wife is food related: I have baked muffins, brownies and pies; I have tried all sorts of new recipes for breakfast and dinner.

In addition to my new found culinary skills, I have added interior decorating and furniture assembly to my resume. I have never built so many pieces of furniture in my life! I now know all the varieties of allen wrenches, phillips and flat head screwdrivers, cam locks, brackets, hinges, etc. I have also been hunting for paintings, decorations, home accessories in every home decor store imaginable. Needless to say, married life has brought out every creative/homemaker characteristic in me and I have been having a blast!

Moving on to my craft career... In the midst of wedding planning, starting a new job, and returning to classes  I have not had the chance to even look at yarn in the past seven months. I am trying to get back into the swing of things, however. I have been trying to visit Ravelry on a regular basis, and have corrected some issues with the availability of my sock yarn blanket pattern. Hopefully, these problems have all been resolved! I will try to periodically check it...

Well, that's all for now! I am so eager and excited to see what this year holds!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Latest Adventures

First, HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!! <3 

Next: I've got just one word for you: Yoga!

Let me try that again: Yoga! Yoga! Yoga! and YOGA! Yep, this has become my latest obsession.

It all started a couple of weeks ago. I was out with my friends having a "few" drinks and catching up. FPE and Lainers have been practicing yoga for a while, they talked about it often and had been telling me to jump on the bandwagon. For the last several months I had been politely declining, but something got through to me when they were talking about how much they love yoga... maybe it was the spirited beverages, maybe I had simply opened my mind to the possibilities... who knows! Either way, the next day I got the website that they used to take a wide variety of yoga classes and started my 15 day free trial. I was immediately hooked!

So naturally, since I never do ANYTHING "half-way," I dragged my sister into my newly found obsession. I took her our to the store and bought both of us yoga supplies: mats, blocks, clothing, and a key chain for myself that professes my love of yoga! ;) (I was in desperate need of a new key chain anyways and when I saw a pink "I <3 Yoga" lanyard, I decided it was kismet). Needless to say, she has become a yoga addict as well. :)


I am definitely a person who has always struggled to quiet my mind down. Especially with my wedding less than 6 months away, I feel like I am carrying around a constant "to-do" list that never seems to get any shorter! Yoga has finally helped me to slow down, and relax. It is fantastic! In addition to helping me find a sense of peace and balance, I have noticed some changes in my muscle strength! :D A dream come true for someone who hates to work out right? I also suffer from weak knees... I ran track in high school and have tendinitis in both knees, it has a tendency to flare up every now and then.  I have noticed that during the last 15 days of using YogaGlo that my joints have strengthened.

I strongly recommend this site for anyone who is interested in yoga, whether you are a beginner or not! The site is: yogaglo.com . It offers a 15 day trial, which I signed up for and have since continued my membership (only $18/month). They provide a beginner center as well as a variety of instructors, classes and styles of yoga for all expert levels. Please check it out!!
**This post is dedicated to FPE & Lainers for convincing me to hop on the Yoga Train**