An afternoon snack

I was at the doctor this afternoon and missed lunch. (Trying to figure out this nasty cough that I have had for four weeks.) Doesn’t this look like a lovely snack on a rainy spring afternoon? Hubby made the bread on Sunday. It is based on an “almost no-knead” bread recipe that Cook’s Illustrated published last year sometime. He has changed it so much though since he originally made it that pretty much the only thing that remains the same is the technique. You make the dough the night before, let it rise all night, knead it about twice, shape and let rise again for a few hours, before baking it in a covered dutch oven that you have preheated in a really hot oven. It is awesome. Crunchy crust, good crumb. Yum. And served with butter and my sister-in-law’s homemade strawberry jam? Even more yummy. And top it off with my favorite coffee (Organic Sumatra Mandheling Gayo Supreme from Coffee by Design in Portland, ME) and it makes the perfect rainy afternoon snack.

Colorful napkins

Woo-hoo! It’s Spring! (Just had to throw that out there.) Our red-winged blackbirds came home last week, which means it really is spring. It doesn’t just say that on the calendar.

At the beginning of the school year, my first grader started a small trend in his class. I always put a cloth napkin in his lunch bag to function as a little placemat. Well, another child in his class with a crafty-mama saw it, and told her mom that she wanted cloth napkins in her lunch! So, crafty-mama made her daughter and her friend special napkins for their lunches. Well, the teacher saw these and mentioned that she thought it was a great idea, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a few in the classroom for a child to use when they brought in a messier snack?

So, I finally got the hint, LOL! No, seriously, I frequently ask her if there is anything that I can make for her because I make so much stuff for my son’s Montessori class and hardly anything for my older son’s school. They were having a big party/celebration last week. A big pajama day party with pizza because, as a class, they have read 1,000 books since school started in September. Wow! That’s impressive for 17 first graders! They had been doing a read-aloud of Charlotte’s Web, and my son’s most-looked-forward-to event of the party was that they would be finishing Charlotte’s Web the day before so they could watch the movie during the party.

I went to JoAnns, and found some cute prints in their clearance area, and raided my own fabric stash and made 20 napkins. I wanted to make sure everyone could have one. Lots of ways to make napkins of course. I cut mine to 15″x15″. I made mine double sided, so I cut two 15×15 squares, put them right sides together, sewed with a 5/8″ seam leaving about 3 inches to turn them in the center of one side. I also like to backstitch when I turn the corner, just to add some reinforcement. Clip the corners. Turn them right side out. Press flat, making sure to press the seam of the opening correctly. Then top-stitch all the way around, which will close up the open seam where you turned them.

You can also make them one-sided, and just hem them all the way around. This uses a lot less fabric, of course, but I like the thickness that you get with the double-layer. I made one special one using “party” fabric, and she is going to save that as the special napkin you get to use when you celebrate your birthday! Hooray! I volunteer in his class one morning a week, and it was fun to see all the kids going to pick out napkins for snack time.

P.S. I’m almost done with my baby quilt!! I just need to go pick out the binding and put it on!

Snake game mat

(Front of mat)

(Back of Mat)

J’s teacher asked if I could make them a new mat for the Addition Snake Game. (They may use it for other things, who knows!) The small felt mat they were currently using was a bit too small, and the snake beads would run into the black/white bead stair.

I decided to practice my quilting in preparation for starting to quilt the baby quilt that is ready for that step once I get a chance to sit down and do it! I used my darning foot to freehand machine quilt the word Peace in the middle of the mat. I really liked how that turned out. I practiced a few times on some scraps, of course! Then, I just did a little squiggle pattern around the rest of the white part. The red part on the right (red is indicative of addition in Montessori math materials) is where the child would put the black/white bead stair.

It turned out very cute. I was proud of it. And I got to get in some quilting practice before I work on the baby quilt! Win-win!

Sewing Green

Betz White’s new book, Sewing Green, arrived today!!! Fun! She also wrote Warm Fuzzies, which I keep raving about and is making me a regular at Goodwill. (And see her blog for the free pattern for the cashmere bunny that I made last week.)

I’ve just started looking through it, but there’s a pattern for making a sandwich wrap! Fun! (We have two Wrap-n-Mats that I use religiously in the boys’ lunches, but some new patterns that I’ve made myself would be fun.) And some cool napkins, totes, aprons, and even a make your own auto sunshade using Capri Sun boxes. I’m going to pass on that one since I don’t buy juice boxes in any form, so I’m not sure how I’d ever accumulate all those Capri Sun boxes.

There is an absolutely adorable picnic blanket made from cast-off towels, a skirt for you made with a pillowcase(!) and a cute toddler pillowcase dress as well. Hey, find some matching vintage pillowcases, and you could match your skirt with your toddler’s dress. Cute? You decide. Probably depends on the pillowcase.

There is an apron made from an old men’s dress shirt. We have tons of those around here! I must try that one out! The hubby seems to go through dress shirts quite quickly for some reason. Oooh….I just found a pattern for making slippers from a felted wool sweater. Cool!

So far the book looks great. I’ll let you know more after I make some things. But, great photos, and nice text. And who doesn’t like the idea of re-purposing old stuff laying around your house into something useful and new?

Cashmere bunny

I made Betz White’s free pattern for a cashmere bunny last night. So-o-o-o cute! Betz wrote Warm Fuzzies which I got for Christmas and I absolutely love. Highly recommended!

I got the cashmere sweater at Goodwill for $4.99. The cashmere is a bit slippery to work with, but it turned out okay. Her pattern calls for sewing closed the opening after you turn it, and attaching a tail. Her suggestions for a tail include a yarn pompom or a wool felt ball. I decided to stuff the bunny with wool batting instead of polyfill, and then I let the batting hang out the end. Then I sewed the hole closed through the batting that was sticking out, and needle-felted the bit of wool hanging out the end into a tail. It turned out very cute! I had to go back to Goodwill today to try to find another color of a cashmere sweater so I could make another one in a different color! I might have been successful. I’m not sure if the sweater I bought is cashmere or not because the tag had been cut out. I guess we’ll see how it works out! It was pretty quick and easy to make. I’d say it took about 2 hours max. (We were having a crafty-girl night, so there was much chatter and not as much crafting!)

Stuffed penguin heating pad

My younger son likes to complain that his tummy hurts. I’m not really sure if it really does however. In any case, I had an idea to make him a rice heating pad in the shape of a stuffed animal. Then, when he does go into the tummy-hurting routine, we can warm that up, and he can have it to cuddle and will hopefully make him feel better. His favorite animal is a penguin, and I ran across a post by Allsorts of some Wee Penguins she made based on the Wee pattern by Hilary over at Wee Wonderfuls. Hmm….this looked like good inspiration!

I used the template from the Wee pattern, but enlarged it by 200%. Then, instead of making it stand on its own by using three template pieces of the body, I just used two, so it would be flat. It’s an entirely recycled penguin! Or upcycled, or whatever the go-to term for this is nowadays. I found some old fleece pants in my closet that I haven’t worn in five years. Then, the penguin tummy is just some craft felt that I had laying around. For the rice insert, I cut the sleeve off a button-down shirt that is in my scrap/rag pile because it got too raggedy for my husband to wear to work anymore. I sewed up the bottom of the sleeve, then sewed in three channels. I filled each of these channels with rice. This will help the rice so it doesn’t shift around too much. Then I sewed the bag shut.

I thought about making it so that you could take the rice bag out, but I decided that was too much of a hassle. And I was worried that the rice bag might fall out if the boys were playing with the stuffed animal. Instead, I just sewed the bottom closed. The little wings are stuffed with polyfill. I was excited to use the recycled fabric that I found in my closet, but the fleece was pita to sew with. It had some level of spandex in it or something and it was really shifty when I was sewing, even though I used a ball point needle.

It took me about 2.5 hours to make one night after the kids went to bed. It was a huge hit with my penguin loving DS!

Spring-time Montessori apron

I whipped up another Montessori apron for J’s class on Sunday night. Isn’t this one cute?! Check out that adorable carrot fabric from Michael Miller fabrics. I used a light green double fold bias tape for the outside, and a cream color for the neckline. It’s double-sided, so both sides have the same fabric. The twill tape strips on the shoulders are so the kids can hang up the apron by themselves. J’s teacher plans to use it in a practical life activity related to cutting carrots, I think.

Quilting practice

The quilt top is done! Woo-hoo! And it actually looks pretty good. The corners don’t line up perfectly in every place, but in general it’s pretty good. And once it is quilted and washed, you probably won’t be able to tell too much. The OhFransson pattern calls for just quilting the top and the batting, and then adding the backing layer (minkee or chenille) afterwards. I hate working with chenille and I’m not too sure about the minkee, so I’m just going to use a cotton and sew all three layers together like a normal quilt. I decided to use something that I picked up at Marden’s – a Michael Miller print called Word Search (watermelon).

So, before embarking on the quilting process since I haven’t done it in awhile, I decided to do a practice little table mat. I just took two fat quarters, sandwiched them with some cotton batting, squared it up and quilted. The quilt pattern calls for free hand quilting. I’m a bit hesitant about that. My machine isn’t fancy, and doesn’t have all of those nice quilting functions that make things like freehand quilting easier. I did a practice swatch and the stitches were really sporadic. So, I thought to myself, hmmm…wonder what it would look like just doing some big curves with my evenfeed foot? So, I made this mat. It turned out okay, but I’m still not too sure about it in terms of the quilt. I’m thinking that I might just outline the small inner squares using basic machine quilting and then maybe some big sweeping curves or swirls up the rows in between the inner squares. I’m still thinking about it. It’s a cute table mat though!

(Insert gratuitous puppy shot here…..)

I also need to still figure out the applique that I want to use. I was originally going to use the giraffe applique, but now I’m thinking the little bird might be better. Hmmm…decisions, decisions.

And on the weather front, it’s another Monday snow day! Second in a row!