Friday, September 25, 2009

Autumn Harvest

I didn't get much gardening done this year. Too tired and pregnant mostly. But I do try to plant a few pots every year, just a few flowers and tomato plants.

I have to say that this year I have had great success with my tomato jungle. I guess my fertility was a bit contagious! :)

Couple the first of my little red beauties with some fresh olive onion bread and I feel the start of a delicious lunch coming on. Yum!

Hope you're having a good Friday. M

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


We are into our first week of maternity leave here at Sugar Bowl House. I'm supposed to be taking it easy and putting my feet up. Yeah, sure, cuz there aren't a gazillion things to do before Baby Boy arrives.

The difference between this week and last week? I can take a nap in between jobs around the house. A definite plus.

The focus this week is getting the nursery finalized and the freezer stocked. I keep negotiating with the baby to stay in for at least two more weeks (we're four weeks from our due date) so I can get everything done. Some days I think he's listening, other days not so much.

Before I get too lost in the day's activities, I just wanted to thank everyone who has sent or delivered a gift recently. So many wonderful things are being received here from both bloggers and non-bloggers alike that I can't really keep up with photographing and documenting them all.

But please know that your kind thoughts and good wishes for us and for the baby are so very appreciated. It's a joy to know that so many people are celebrating with us.

Thank you.


Monday, September 14, 2009

A Binding Love Affair

Sorry about the delay between posts. Been training my replacement at work, making way for baby, attending family reunions, all sorts of things. Computer time has truly been at a minimum. And frankly, I liked it that way for a while.

Now, though, it's time to get back to some crafty projects. Specifically, I need to get this last post up for the Quilting 101 project - a tummy-time I Spy Quilt for my soon-to-be-arriving son.

The last piece of all my quilts is the binding. I guess other people might do other things after the binding (labels, embroidery, what have you) but I leave this piece until last as it's the icing on the cake for me. This is the part that makes the whole thing come together - like the frame, if you will.

First, you need to audition the binding fabric. Because it is the frame, it needs to show off the quilt in the way you want it to. I like this orange/yellow batik for this quilt because it's high energy and shows off the brown in the sashings.

But I also like it against the back fabric. It really highlights the oranges and yellows in the rocket ships and planets.

I did try out a few other binding potentials but they would go with one side and not the other, or they just didn't give the quilt the same kind of pop that I was looking for. This bright one is the keeper.

Once the choice is made, you need to make sure you have enough strips of the fabric to make it all the way around your quilt. You can use a special quilters calculator, check physically by holding it up to your quilt, or you can do the math - whatever you're comfortable with.

Of course, all this is dependent upon how wide you want your binding to be. I tend to stick with a 2.5" strip, that then gets ironed in half and stitched on. Some people like them wider than that but I prefer to make it fit like a candy wrapper. Trim and close.

So you can see in the above pic that I cut five strips - each of them being 2.5" wide and as long as the fabric is wide - 44".

The strips then need to be sewn together at the ends. But you can see here that I'm sewing them at a diagonal to each other. The right sides together, with one strip at a 90-degree angle to the other, sew diagonally, one after the other after the other, until you have all strips stitched on to the binding snake.

Don't forget to trim those corners to the 1/4" seam allowance - all the way along. (Hint: Stretch the snake out to make sure everything is going in the right direction for your needs. If you start cutting first, you may wind up really mad about that one piece that isn't cooperating!)

Iron out your seams so they don't get in your way while sewing.

Then fold over and iron the end piece. This will keep the fabric from serious bunching at the beginning/end of your sewing the binding to the quilt.

Fold the rest of the binding in half and iron it all the way to the end. It's a bit fussy but totally worth it in the end.

I wind mine up to help me keep organized for the next step. This gives you an idea what it should look like when you're finished with the iron.

To attach the binding to the quilt, I place a pin just at the beginning and then match the raw edges of the binding to the raw edges of the quilt, with the binding on top of the quilt top. This will give the quilt top a nice finished edge.

Using the same 1/4" seam allowance that has been with us since the beginning, start stitching that baby on. BUT before you get to the next edge of the quilt, you want to stop with 1/4" left before you run off the end, like in the pic below.

This little window of 1/4" will allow us to do a special corner fold, letting us go around the corner of the quilt. So stop stitching here, do a little back stitch to reinforce if you like, raise your needle, and cut your thread.

Fold the binding back, as in this pic, and then along the next edge, as in the pic below.

Start stitching along the new edge, again with a 1/4" seam allowance. Repeat this corner folding at each corner all the way around the quilt.

When you finally get back to where you started, you will tuck the end of your binding into the diagonally-ironed beginning, like so.

If you turn the binding up, it should look like this from the top:

Now your binding is attached all the way around the top of the quilt. At this point, you're going to fold the binding over the edge of the quilt and start hand stitching it to the back of the quilt. Here is what it will look like during this process:

You fold the binding in half again, and using a needle and thread, stitch it down to the back side, over top of the seam that keeps it in place on the top side. So then it matches both top and bottom being stitched 1/4" from the edge.

Continue this stitching all the way around. The last stitch of the binding will be the last stitch on the quilt.

If you still need clarification on this, almost every quilting magazine and most books have more details and pics for you. There are a few different ways to accomplish this task, but all of them are similar with a few modifications.

So that's it. We've done a quilt together from beginning to end. I hope this helps to clear up some questions you've had, maybe even inspired you to try one yourself. Remember to go easy on yourself - it's a learning process, not something you have to do perfectly.

Good luck and happy stitching! M

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Strange and Spoiled

I know I should be posting about crafty things since this is a craft blog. And I do have one nearly ready to go, but I just had to post these pictures.

Strange? Stanley helping with the dishes.

Yes, he's sitting in the dish rack while I do the dishes.

I don't think I've ever had a cat as strange (but of course lovely) as our man, Stan.

Spoiled? Have you seen David with his princess, Molly?

She's sound asleep in that position while we were watching a movie. And he won't move a muscle for fear that he disturb her.

I keep telling him it's a good thing we're having a boy because I don't think I could handle a daughter as spoiled as this little girl! Sheesh!

Hope your world is happy and your crafting joyful. M