Maine Quilts 2009

Two friends and I went to the Maine Quilt show this past weekend which is put on by the Pine Tree Quilters Guild.  Wow, fun!  I’ve never been to a quilt show before, so I don’t know how this one compares with others, but I thought it was great.  We got there at 9am, left at 2pm, and probably could have stayed longer but we were starving.  Tons of great shops, both local and from away.  My favorite shop at the show was Alewives Fabric in Nobleboro, Maine.  They had a ton of great fabric, patterns, etc.  They were also demonstrating making fabric floorcloths, which look very cool.  A few days earlier they had gotten in the Heather Ross Far, Far Away collection in the double gauze.  I have never seen the double gauze, which was intriguing.  I was also able to test out a long arm quilting machine briefly.  I can see how that would be a lot of fun if I had $10k just laying around, LOL!

I was actually good, and all I bought were a few patterns.  It was hard to pass up all that gorgeous fabric!  I think this wool applique pattern from Lakeview Primitives will be a nice wall hanging for Christmas.  It was fun to see the fabric in person, versus all the internet window shopping that I normally do.  For example, my friend bought some home dec weight fabric from Denyse Schmidt’s County Fair collection, and it was so much prettier in person than it seemed online.  She’s going to make an Amy Butler Birdie Sling with the fabric, which Alewives had displayed in their stall, and is way cute.  I didn’t realize just from looking at the pattern that the shoulder handle is really just one strap and not two.  Really comfortable.

Another shop, the Calico Basket Quilt Shop, in Windham, Maine was doing a small demonstration on making exploding pineapple blocks.  Way cool.  The next day, I made some up with a Moda Flutterby charm pack that I had laying around, and they were really quick and easy.  You take two charm squares, and sew them all the way around, facing each other.  Then, you draw two lines diagonally between each corner.  You pull up just the top fabric, and clip a tiny bit in the middle where the lines cross, and then you cut all the way along both diagonal lines up to the seam.  You fold back the resulting triangles and press.  Sew a bunch together, and voila!  These are the simple ones.  You can keep combining the squares to make more intricate ones.

Exploding Pineapples

Exploding Pineapples

I have been in a flurry of cleaning for guests and the fact that we are going to be doing a tiny home renovation project that requires me to empty out my office.  Scary.  Very scary.  So, I have several projects in the works that are not done yet.  Sigh.

I did finish another US map quickie quilt for a friend of mine.  This time I used some great state fabric that I found at Joanns in their 4th of July/holiday section for the backing.

US Map Tied Quilt

US Map Tied Quilt

I also finally created a label for the baby quilt that I finished for my friend awhile back.  So, I need to wash it and it will be done!  I’m making her older girls some tote bags, which is why I haven’t sent it off yet.  I’m using the tutorial that Skip to My Lou just posted a little while ago.

The label is just a piece of natural colored organic cotton and I embroidered the baby’s name on it.  Then, I used a fabric pen to stamp the word FOR and hand-write my name and the year.  I then just pressed under a seam allowance, and used a blind stitch to tack it onto the back, making sure to only catch the backing fabric and not the front!

Quilt label

Quilt label

Cut out tote bags and summer shorts

Cut out tote bags and summer shorts

Underneath the tote bags are about five pairs of shorts that are cut and ready to sew together.  But I’m trying to get my gifts done first!  We’ve also been having a little Maine beach fun since it finally feels like summer!

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Water was 53 degrees that day.  Brr!

Water was 53 degrees that day. Brr!

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Summer shorts

I decided to make a bunch of summer shorts for the boys.  They are very simple cotton shorts, no pockets, elastic waist, etc.  I had the boys tell me what kind of shorts that they would like, and I went to the fabric store to find some fabric.  I have a template that I’ve made with freezer paper for making the boys pajama pants.  I took that template, and modified it slightly for the shorts length, and a few other tweaks.  I’ll try to update with a more full-blown tutorial in a few days, but it is quite easy and do-able for all skill levels.  The one thing I have learned to be careful of is the elastic waistband.  You want to be careful that the casing that you slip the elastic through is almost the exact same size as the width of the elastic.  If the casing is too large, then the elastic slips around in the casing when you wash the shorts, and is bothersome.  I’ve also been taking tiny scraps of wool felt, and embroidering a size number on the strip, and then tacking it to the back of the shorts.  This helps with a few things, 1) the boys know which side is the front/back, and 2) I have been making some shorts with the same fabric and this way I can easily tell whose are whose.  I’ve considered modifying the design somewhat to include pockets, but I haven’t bothered as yet.  The boys seem happy enough without pockets for now.

Penguin shorts

Penguin shorts

Shark shorts -- digging for fossils at the Academy of Natural Sciences museum in Philly

Shark shorts -- digging for fossils at the Academy of Natural Sciences museum in Philly

Shark shorts -- Machines exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philly

Shark shorts -- Machines exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philly

On the cutting board are baseballs, dogs and some pirate/skull things.  I’m trying to finish up a couple of other projects though before I tackle those.  They are already cut out though so I should be able to make quick work of them.  Once cut out, I think they probably only take 30-45 minutes per pair, max.

Fabric coasters

I love to make fabric coasters.  So quick and easy, with that element of instant gratification combined with usefulness.  We attended a family wedding last weekend, and purchased the standard “kitchen equipment” sort of present.  Well, not quite standard, but eminently useful and loved here at our household!  In any case, I also wanted to give the bride and groom a little something handmade as well.  We did a big “cousin dinner” thing while we were visiting and went out to the bride and groom’s favorite sushi restaurant.  Yummy.  Even the non-sushi-eating cousins were good sports and tried some things.  (Although the look on cousin Steven’s face when he ate the Philly roll was quite humorous.)

So, I whipped up these little sushi coasters.  On the back is some great fabric from Sandi Henderson’s Ginger Blossom line for Michael Miller (Blossom Buds in Mustard).  I got the sushi fabric at JoAnns, and it’s from Robert Kaufman.  The coasters are super-easy to make.  I cut 4.5″x4.5″ squares out of the two fabrics, and one same-size square of a thin cotton batting.  Sandwich it together, like such….batting on the bottom, backing piece facing up, front piece facing down.  Sew around the square with a 3/8″ seam allowance, leaving a big enough gap for turning it right-side out on one side.  Clip the corners off, although not too close to the stitching.  Turn it, and push out the corners with a chopstick or pencil.  Press.  Then, top-stitch around the outside, close to the edge, which also closes up the gap that you used to turn the little quilt sandwich.  I used a bright green thread for the top-stitching, which actually turned out quite cute and matched better than I thought it would.  Voila, coasters!  Easy-peasy.  And all fabric from my stash – even better!

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Washoku Warriors, Recipe #1

I love sushi and other Asian foods, so was excited to read about a Washoku Warriors group being organized by Rachael over at La Fuji Mama.  The book, Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen, looked so yummy that I decided to join in.  I also thought it would be something fun to do together with the hubby since he also loves to cook and loves to eat Asian food.  Washoku means literally, “the harmony of food.”  The book is awesome.  Seriously, really awesome.  And I’ve only made one thing out of it yet!  But, it’s got great background on the culture of Japanese food and the Japanese home kitchen, ingredients, tools, etc.  I’ve really enjoyed reading it so far.

Rice Bowl with Three-Colored Topping

Rice Bowl with Three-Colored Topping

UPDATED> La Fuji Mama posted a round-up of all the recipe participants, here.

So, the first challenge was for “Rice Bowl with Three-Colored Topping.”  In Washoku, there should be five-part harmony in terms of the color of the food/meal presented.  The Rice Bowl dish is a one-dish meal, so all five colors are represented in the bowl.  According to the author, Elizabeth Andoh, “Five colors, or go shiki, suggests that every meal include foods that are red, yellow, green, black and white.”  So, in this dish, the white is represented by rice, the yellow by the corn, the green by the peas, the red by the little pickled beets on top (my addition), and the black by the crumbled up nori topping.  The dish was really easy to make, and I loved the ground gingery chicken.  Mmmm….I’m trying to think of other dishes where I can incorporate the chicken.  It was so tasty and my 6yo loved it.  The book says that it’s great for freezing, so I might have to make some up and portion it up for the freezer.

The one thing I found difficult in the recipe (which was generally very easy) was the ginger juice (sounds like a bad drink in college, huh?) for the ground gingery chicken.  I took a knob of peeled fresh ginger and made a bunch of pulp with my ginger grater, which I then pressed with my fingers to extract the juice.  The recipe only required 1 teaspoon, but even that was pretty hard to get!  Lots of ginger grating.  But, I’m not sure what else you would substitute for that great ginger enhancing flavor.  Or maybe there is a better way to extract the juice.

Ginger juice

Ginger juice

Here are the basic ingredients.  It really is quite simple.  The only thing special that I had to buy was the sake which is part of the ground gingery chicken.  The little bit of crumbled nori on top of the rice bowl is just half a nori sheet that I crumbled up.  And the recipe actually calls for pickled red ginger for the “red”, but since I couldn’t find that, I used some small, diced pickled beets.  Yum!

Crumbled nori

Crumbled nori

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You use a chopstick to divide the bowl into sections as you place the chicken, peas and corn on top.  A fun presentation, I think.

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