Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I've had a busy week of sewing and my craft room currently looks like a hurricane hit it. Guess it's time to go clean!

I finished my November bee block for Newbee Quilters Hive 5. Liz chose the Ribbon Star block in fall colors for her month. So pretty! I really love this block and may just have to make a quilt using it for myself some day!

I also was able to make another Rocky Mountain Puzzle block for my bee quilt. I've had this print from Alexander Henry's Once Upon a Time line in my stash for a while and thought one of the princess's would make a lovely fussy cut center. I'm really happy with how this block turned out - it's so cheerful!

Next up is a spool block. I kept seeing the cutest spools popping up on flickr but couldn't find a tutorial. I finally broke down and worked out the measurements for myself. The block measures a bitty 6.5" so I'm going to need a ton of them if I want to make a quilt! I think this one will go on the back burner until after the holidays. I'm still trying to decide if I want to use all black fabrics for the spool ends, or if I want to mix it up a bit. I'm leaning towards all black, but I don't actually have a lot of black fabrics in my stash. Hmmm. Maybe this would make a good bee block?

There are several other projects I've been working on, but since they will be holiday gifts, I won't be showing them yet. :)

I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Pumpkin Quick Bread

I was lucky enough to get the day off from work today, so I've spent a good portion of my afternoon baking in preparation for tomorrow's meals. Yes, that's meals, plural. You see both my family and my husband's family live within 20 minutes drive of each other, so we end up doing Thanksgiving dinner with both families, one at lunch time, and one at dinner time. It makes for very full bellies! Since we have an hour drive to get there, I usually make the breads for both meals.

First up is pumpkin bread. I got the recipe from a co-worker several years ago and it has become my go-to bread recipe for every holiday since. The only tweak I made to the original recipe was to add vanilla (everything's better with a little vanilla in it, right?) and a cinnamon sugar topping.

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup oil (I've used vegetable or olive and both work fine so take your pick)
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup water
2 cups pumpkin (note that I usually just use a 15oz. can since this is all I can find locally)

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream the sugar, oil, and eggs. Add cinnamon, salt, and baking soda and mix well. Add in your flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir til mostly mixed in. Your dough is going to be pretty thick at this point so don't worry if all the flour doesn't stir in yet. Add water and pumpkin and mix well with an electric mixer. Your batter will be a little thicker than pancake batter at this point.

Prepare two 9x5 loaf pans: 

I absolutely hate having to struggle to get my loaves out of the pan and then having to scrub the resulting sticky pan, so I use the lazy girl method, and line my pans with foil, no baking spray needed. The bread can be lifted straight out of the pan with no fuss and the foil peels right off. Your pan should still look nice and clean since it didn't come in contact with any batter, so no scrubbing will be needed to clean it. Nice, huh? I do this with everything I bake, and after 8+ years, my bake ware still looks the same as it did when I brought it home.

If not using the lazy girl method, then spray your loaf pans lightly with cooking spray.

Add your batter to the prepared pans. Now you can just pop them in the oven right now if you'd like, or you can add a cinnamon sugar topping to give your finished loaves a crackly, crunchy top that looks all fancy like you picked them up at a bakery. What's that? You want to do the topping? Thought so.

Cinnamon Sugar topping

1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix together and use a spoon to generously sprinkle over the tops of your loaves. Mind, you won't use all of this on your bread so save the leftovers to make cinnamon toast with. Personally, I keep some of this mix on hand at all times, stored in an empty ground cinnamon container so I have a convenient shaker to use. I put this same topping on muffins, etc, before baking for the same lovely top.

Pop your loaves in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Enjoy!

This year I am also trying out a recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Quick bread. If it turns out well, I'll post the recipe soon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Signature Block

Hi ladies of Hive 5! I would love it if you could make a signature block that I can use on the back of my bee quilt so I will always remember who helped me make it. :) My plan is to have you make a smaller version of the center block from the Rocky Mountain Puzzle block to use as the siggy block, and then I will take them and add on the HST to make up a bunch of 8 1/2" blocks for the back of the quilt. I'm going to give instructions for both the center square as well as the unfinished 8 1/2" block just in case someone wants to make one someday, but I in NO WAY expect you to do more than just the center siggy part!!! 

12.5" block next to sample 8.5" block for comparison.


Center signature block:

solid in a color your pen will show up on: 3" square
Frame in color of choice: two 1.25" x 3" rectangles
                                      two 1.25" x 4.5" rectangles

1. Sign 3" square with fabric pen in your choice of color.

2. Sew a 1.25" x 3" bar to opposite sides of the 3" square. Press away from the center square.

3. Sew the 1.25" x 4.5" bars to the remaining opposite sides of the center square unit. Press away from the center square. Your siggy block should measure 4.5" square.

----------------------------Siggy Block is complete.--------------------------------

To make an 8.5" Rocky Mountain Puzzle Block:

Follow the above instructions to make the center square unit, substituting your choice of fun print for the solid 3" square.

HST units:

background fabric: five 3" squares
                             two 2.5" squares
main fabric: five 3" squares

Use your 3" squares to make 10 HST units, which you will square up to 2.5". Follow the tutorial here to complete your block.

Rocky Mountain Puzzle Block

I'm a member of Hive 5 of the Newbee Quilter's bee over on threadbias and after much anticipation, it is finally my month to be queen. :) I went back and forth on my block choice and finally settled on the Rocky Mountain Puzzle Block. Of course, just to be difficult, I altered the measurements a bit to suit me and so thought it would be best to make a tutorial. This is my first time writing out a sewing tutorial, so bear with me, ok?

Rocky Mountain Puzzle Block

Cutting Instructions:

-Background fabric:      two 3 1/2" squares
                                      five 4 1/8" squares*
-Main fabric (fuchsia):  five 4 1/8" squares*
-Frame fabric (turquoise): two 1 1/4" x 5" rectangles
                                          two 1 1/4" x 6 1/2" rectangles
-Center Accent fabric: one 5" square

*Depending on how comfy you are with making HST units, you may want to increase or decrease the size of these squares. 4 1/8" should give you some wiggle room for squaring the units up to 3 1/2".

Assemble Quilt Block Center:

1. Sew a 1 1/4" x 5" bar to opposite sides of the 5" square as shown. Press seams away from the center.

2. Sew a 1 1/4" x 6 1/2" bar to the remaining opposite sides of the center square unit. Press seams away from the center.

The center block unit should measure 6 1/2" square. Set aside and move on to making your HST units.
Half-Square Triangle Units:

1. Use your 4 1/8" background and main fabric squares to make 10 HST units. If you need a good tutorial with lots of pictures, I found this one pretty helpful. Press seams towards the dark fabric and trim to 3 1/2" square.

Helpful hint for getting text prints or other directional prints to all go the same way: Lay your print in front of you the way that you want it to look on the finished block. Pinch the upper left corner and flip the fabric over so that your pinched portion is now on the upper right. Draw your sewing line from the upper right to the lower left. If your second fabric is also a directional print, then make sure you stack them so the print is going in the same direction on each when you layer them with fabric #1. Do this with each square and once sewn, they should all run in the correct direction. 

Assembling the Block:

Layout your assembled pieces as shown.

 1. Sew together one 3 1/2" background square and three HST units to make your top row. Do the same for the bottom row.

Note that pressing the two seams on each end of the row away from the middle seam will make them nest nicely with the middle row when you get to sewing that part together.

2. Sew two HST units together to make the right side, repeat for the left side. Press.

3. Sew rows together to complete the block. Press. The block should measure 12 1/2" x 12 1/2".

Some other examples:

I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

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