Saturday, December 29, 2012

Friday Finish

Winter Rails and Grandmother's Fabric

This week I'm linking up for the Friday finish because, ta da, I actually have a finish to link!  This lap sized quilt was made for my brother as a birthday/Christmas present.


I started working on my brother's quilt about two weeks before Christmas.  I had a small pile of blue themed wintery fabric that I didn't like, then I has a pile of blue that I did like, then I also had a pile of blue/cream that I inherited from my Grandmother when she passed away several years ago.  I wanted to create something for my brother that featured these special fabrics from my Grandmother so that he could have a little part of her around his house.

My Grandmother didn't really quilt, although she did like cutting her fabric into squares when the mood took here.  But, she did have a small stash of fabrics around her house that we kids played with and cut up.  My grandmother always let me use her sewing machine, even when I had no idea what I was doing, and she even showed me how to sew my first pillow case.  I hope to make a quilt for my sister and also for me with the rest of my grandmother's fabrics later this year.


The front of my brother's quilt is a simple split rail fence design.  I wanted to keep it clean and graphic to suit his tastes.  Do you see my little oops.  I though about fixing it, but decided to leave it in.  It will throw my future great grand nieces or nephews off :) The back is pieced to really feature a huge piece of tiny blue tulips on cream fabric from my Grandmother.  I also used left over strips to tie the big pieces together.

I also had a lot of leftover strips that I used to make scrappy bias binding.  Talk about good quilting karma; I ended on the exact same fabric so the join is almost invisible!  Of course, that's where my luck ended with this quilt.  I'm sad to say that my old Brother sewing machine died a smoking, screaming death during the making of this quilt.  It had a good life, and I will miss it.  I had to borrow my neighbors sewing machine to finish the binding, and now I'm looking to buy a new machine to replace my Brother.

It's funny how a pile of fabric that I wasn't in love with turned into a quilt that I really like and am happy to send to my brother.  See, quilts are magic :-)


Can anyone spot the quilted hand? I put it right over the label :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas trees and Cars

Here's some more Christmas Market eye candy for everyone.  This if from our trip down to Austria where they make many traditional ornaments out of straw.


On Saturday, I went with the boys to go get our Christmas tree.  We were planning a trip for Sunday and Monday, so we had to get the tree then or else we wouldn't have one for tomorrow.  We were having a fun time getting lunch, and then looking at the toy store before heading to the tree lot.  At the last second, I decided to hit the car wash to clean out the back of the SUV before we tried to stick a tree back there.  We stopped for less than 5 minutes, but when I tried to restart the car, nothing.  It wouldn't turn over or even jump.  My boys were devastated   They were so worried that we wouldn't be able to get a tree before we left for Austria.  Luckily, we were right next to our auto skills center, and they came to the rescue.  They moved my dead car to the garage and looked it over to see what was going on.  Right now, it looks like it might have just been some corroded cables, but it could also be the starter.  We'll have to wait and see.

DSCN3132I just want to say that the guys at our auto skills center made what was a major catastrophe in my boy's minds, into an exciting adventure.  They not only fixed my car, but gave my boys a lesson in car repair.  It's people like this who go the extra mile that really remind me that the world can be a beautiful place.

Then, it was off to the tree lot in the rain to find the perfect Christmas tree for under 20 Euro.  I think that we did rather well.  Happy Christmas everyone.  Have a wonderful time with friends and family!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Marshmallow Wreath

I had this whole plan for a beautiful and elegant Christmas wreath with oranges and pine cones, but my little son was pinning with me (yep, my 5-year-old loves his Pinterest time with Mommy) and happened to see a marshmallow wreath.  It was all over after that.  So, I did a few experiments to find out the best way to get marshmallows to stick onto a wreath, and I'd like to share the directions that I came up with for anyone who wants to make their own marshmallow wreath without two days of trial and error.


Before I get to the wreath, I just wanted to share a little Christmas fun with everyone out there.  My family just loves this time of year in Germany.  There are always great markets and fests to go to here, but Christmas is by far the best.  I love visiting all the different markets for the shopping and to see how each is decorated.  Each market has a different theme. Here where I live, it's the Twinkling Star Christmas market. We just went this weekend and my 2-year-old discovered the carousel.  It was a great time. 

Marshmallow Wreath Directions:

Wreath Form (14" for mine)
low heat hot glue gun
2 Bags of regular Marshmallows (stale)
1/2 bag of mini Marshmallows (stale)
White crepe paper or ribbon
1.5 yards of accent ribbon in your choice of color

DSCN3119 copy


1. Prep your marshmallows!  Take all your marshmallows and spread them out on a few cookies sheets or some kind of rack for at least 2 days (periodically flip them around so all sides get exposed to the air).  You want your marshmallows to get stale.  Yep, stale.  Fresh marshmallows don't stick well.  I know that you want to do your wreath today, but if you put fresh marshmallow on a wreath, they tend to not stick as well as the stale ones.  It can be done, but I can't guarantee that they wont keep falling off when you close and open your door. *depending on where you are it can take more or less time for marshmallows to get stale*

2. If your form is not white, wrap your wreath in white crepe paper or white ribbon so that the areas that show through aren't noticeable.

3. Using your hot glue (the low temp kind), you don't want your marshmallow to melt here.  If they get too melty, they won't stick.  If they melt a little, just hold them if place while they cool down.  Place your regular marshmallows all over your wreath leaving uneven gaps and spaces.    Don't pack them too tight or space them too far apart.  You want to fill in the spaces with the mini marshmallows to get a nice random look.  I used the whole two bags of normal marshmallows (minus a few that were sampled by the helpers) and about half the bag of minis. 

4. Make a bow with your ribbon leaving two long tails.  Glue bow to top of wreath. Use the rest of your ribbon to hang over the top of the door.  Secure the end with a hook or tape on the opposite side.

That's it.  A bit time consuming but really easy, and it smells great while your doing it :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Hanukkah, Wall Hanging finish

Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish Family and Friends.  I hope that you are all having a wonderful start to the Hanukkah celebration.  I just wanted to share my Dreidle Delight Wall hanging quilt finish.  Yes, I got it done and in the mail on time.  It's going to find a new home with my cousin and his wife.


This was my first ever attempt at doing feathers on my home machine.  I think they turned out okay.  I also did figure 8s in the cream border and a stipple stitch in the medium blue.  The binding gave me all sorts of problems.  I did a thinner binding than I usually do, and I did it all by machine.  I usually finish my binding by hand.  It just didn't want to co-operate with me at all, but I finally got it done.  Sorry about the mediocre picture, but I had to get it to the post office in a hurry!


The last little thing that I want to share with you is a tip on hanging a small wall hanging like this.  Because this is so small, there really is no reason to sew on a sleeve.  I just took two 4" squares, folded them in half diagonally and then sewed them into the binding.  This way, I can insert a dowel rod and hang it, or I can lay it flat on a table as a runner without the extra bulk of a hanging sleeve.  I also made sure to include the rod and the wall hook in the package going to my cousin.  I find that if you make people get their own hangers, the project wont get hung.

I would also like to note, that I only used fabric from my stash for this project!  Even the backing, which was a fabric that I've had for awhile now because I only need a 5" piece when I bought it.  I'm trying to use supplies mostly from my stash, the problem is that so many times I need just a bit more fabric than I have for something.  I'm sure you all know the feeling. :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

Giveaway Now Closed

* Thanks to the Random Number Generator, we have a winner!!!

Nancy Sue

 you are the winner of the Practically Pippy Sew Mama Sew giveaway! Congratulation.
Here is what Nancy is planning on making with her winnings:

"I have a 5 yr old son who would go ballistic with a quilt made with your fabric and a map on the back. I don't think he'd get a wink of sleep, as he'd probably end up switching the quilt back and forth, wanting to study the map!"  

Welcome all Sew Mama Sew visitors to my little corner of the blogging world.  I'm so excited to be participating in the Sew Mama Sew giveaway this week.  I hope to meet some new and wonderful people and fellow bloggers this week.

Okay, I'm a bit late but I still want to share some sewing supply goodness with you.  This week, I will be giving away not 1, not 2, but 7 sample packs of Blank fabric's Heavy Metal collection.


Each pack comes with 7 pieces of boy themed fabric.  Construction trucks, police, fire rescue, airplanes, and helicopters.  By adding a blender or solid sashing to these fabrics, you could have a nice lap sized boys quilt by New Years!  To make your project even easier, I have a great world map panel (1.5 yards) in primaries that would be an  excellent backing for your project.


When I got these supplies, I had hoped to make a boy themed donation quilt for a local hospital's quilt drive.  I only was able to finish two quilts in time and never got around to finishing this last one.  Now, one lucky winner will get to make something out of these great fabrics!

Everyone has two ways to enter:
  1. Tell me what you plan to make with this fabric and who you are making it for in the comments below.
  2. Become a follower of my blog, and then write a separate comment letting me know.  If you are already a follower, just write a comment to let me know that you're already following my blog.
I will ship to the United States and Internationally.  Giveaway ends at 9 am PST on the 7th of December and a winner will be drawn at random later that day.  The winner must email me back within 48 hours or a new winner will be picked.  If you are a no-reply blogger, you must include your email so that I can contact you.  If I can't contact you, I will just pick a new winner.  Good luck to everyone.   

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hanukkah wall hanging and stitching in the ditch

It's snowing outside.  My kids are thrilled!  

I've got so much going on this week, and in the weeks to come. School, kids, holiday parties, and all the sewing and  crochet that I need to get done before Christmas.  Yes, kids and my schooling need to come first, but I always try to find some time to craft during the day.  It's my "me" time; even if it's just 15 minutes.  This week I'm finishing up a Hanukkah wall hanging for my cousin.  I was hoping to have this out tomorrow morning, since Hanukkah starts on the 8th, but it's looking like it might be going out on Tuesday instead.

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_n_  * _n_   _n_    _n_  * _n_    
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( . )    ( . )    ( . )    ( . )    ( . )    
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I feel in love with this pattern from last year's December McCall's quilting magazine.  The pattern is called Dreidel Delights.  It's easy to work up and the instructions are pretty straight forward.  There was an error in the pattern instructions when they said to cut 9" strips instead of 7.5" strips, but thankfully I noticed it before I did any cutting.  


I'm almost done with the quilting and I wanted to share a tip with some of you that I just learned!  I usually do all my stitching in the ditch with my walking foot and then go back and do my free motion quilting.  This time, I used my edge stitch foot to do the stitching in the ditch.  It is soooooo much better since the center guide rides the edge of the seam, I get perfectly even and virtually undetectable stitches.  It's awesome.  It's definitely going on my favorite things list.


Cross your fingers and hope that I get this done by tomorrow!  Maybe then I'll have time to clean my sewing area.  Hey, don't judge! I thrive on creative clutter.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Diamond Snow Baby Hat

So just a little show and tell today.  I've actually been really busy creating a lot of stuff, doing school (yuck, yuck, don't tell my kids on me), and taking care of the family.  This is the crochet hat that I made up for my daughter using Patton's Canadiana Yarn in White.  I love how this turned out.  I'm calling it my Diamond Snow Baby hat.  At this point, I don't have a pattern written up for this hat.  I sometimes write out patterns, but usually I just freestyle it.  This hat is actually fairly easy to do.  It's a three part hat worked from the bottom up.  Start with the band (blsc), then the diamond pattern, and finally double crochet rounds (w/dec) to the top.  Make a pom pom and you're done.


Okay, I know that I could have been a lot more descriptive,  but if I make another, I promise to write the pattern out while I'm doing it.


I hope to show you a few more hats and other crochet items in the near future.  I've been on a crochet kick lately for Christmas so I've got a lot done.  Plus, I'm thinking about doing a de-stashing giveaway or an exchange.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quilt Festival in France


Patchwork Festival Fun!

While we lived in Texas, and the last time I visited America, I got to go to the Houston International quilt festival almost every year.  I admit that I have become a bit spoiled since the Houston Festival is just incredible   It is always a great time, and I love going with my mother (and sometimes even my sister), but it just wasn't happening this year.  Houston is great, but there are some incredible quilt festivals all over the world.  Because I live in Europe, I want to take advantage of at least some of the wonderful quilt festivals that they offer here.  This year, I got to go to the Carrefour European du Patchwork Festival in France.  It was a blissful two days filled with fabric, notions, vendors, and other men and women who share my love of all things sewing and crocheting.

It is an interesting show, because it is separated out between different locations in four different towns.  I started out in Sainte Marie-aux-Mines.  Each location featured a different category of quilts.


A church offered a selection of Canadian quilts, the geology museum featured mini quilts, the theater displayed antique quilts, the list went on and on.   You would walk to each location, and then could catch the shuttle to each different town.


I loved this quilt so much.  It's by Inge Hueber of Germany, and it is made with the seam allowance showing on the right side.  The way that she did the color wash here is just gorgeous.


I never knew that seam allowances could look so good.


IMG_5851The vendors were also amazing!  I even won some Aurifil thread!  And I might have picked up a few FQs and other little tidbits from vendors all over Europe and even some from America.  I also got to play with some wonderful sewing machines.  I'm still trying to figure out how I can save up for an HQ sweet 16 (just on the table not as a longarm machine).  I don't know how my hubby would feel about it if he knew how much one costs.  I'd better start saving my pennies now :)

This festival was really well done and worth the trip for anyone thinking about going next year!  If you want to see some more of my trip photos, feel free to visit my Flickr page.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fabric bundle Giveaway at the Little Pink Rose

Marcia at The Little Pink Rose is having a giveaway on her blog.  There are many different ways to enter, and you could win a  Chevron Fat Quarter Bundle from Riley Blake Designs with 24 Fat Quarters.  Go and enter to win!!!   Giveaway closes at Midnight on November 23.  Good luck :)  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall Wreath & an update on past holiday wreaths

Wow, I have to salute all those dedicated bloggers out there who produce quality posts week after week.  It's just too easy to miss a few posts and before you know it, you haven't blogged in weeks or months.  I have been creating fun and pretty things for my family and for others, but I've neglected blogging about them :(  So now, a tiny update on my holiday wreaths.

I love making new wreaths for my apartment's front door.  It's one of the only things that I'm allowed to do to the exterior of my home, so I really enjoy changing them out every month/season.  Here are a few of the wreaths that I've made over the last few months starting from the most recent.

This is my Fall/Thanksgiving wreath.  My family collected tons of acorns for a project last month, and I reused the acorn caps to make this wreath.  I also re-used the Chinese lanterns that were part of a Halloween flower arrangement too.  I love getting two uses out of supplies.

To make this wreath, I first wrapped the form in garden twine.  Then I hot glued each cap on.  It took hours longer than I anticipated, but I really like the finished product.  I thought about adding a neat olive green ribbon at the top and not putting the lanterns on for a more modern look, but my craft store was sold out of all the nice fall colors so used a scrap of fabric that was in my stash and the color came from the lanterns.


Last months wreath was for Halloween.  I wanted to make something spooky for the kids.  So I wrapped the form in purple yarn and cut out a haunted house with a graveyard and bats from black paper and accented it with a cheap skeleton from the $1 bin.  I also had to add just a bit of sparkle with the silver ribbon.  It was a big hit with the kids and neighbors.

IMG_6760 copy

The last wreath that I going to share with you today is our back to school wreath made from crayons and paper.  I'm sure that many of you have seen crayon wreaths on Pinterest.  Instead of just choosing the crayons randomly I grouped them by color and then did a gradient pattern around the wreath.  I had the kids color and cut out some school themed coloring pages and my oldest made a kid chain portrait.  We glued it all on for a fun and fab September wreath.  Sorry about the picture quality on the crayon wreath, but in truth the carpet color is no worse than my door color.

IMG_6788 copy

I'm going to try to do some more updates on past projects in the near future and maybe post a few things that I'm working on for the winter holidays.  Wish me luck. :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jam and Jelly Time

This has to be my favorite time of year in Germany. The roadside stands are full of fresh local produce. My favorite are the cherries, but my middle child loves the fresh strawberries. He eats them by the bowl full. It's also the time of year to put some of this fruit by for the winter. Thus, I've been making some jams and jelly for us to have during the year, but I mainly can for friends and family. I love to make fresh bread to go along with the jams as Christmas gifts.
My first batch of jam this year was strawberry. It's nice to start off with a classic. We went out to the strawberry field behind our house and picked 2kgs of strawberries. I'm not sure what type of strawberry these are, but they were beautiful and very sweet.

whole strawberries

I've never seen such blood red strawberries before this. They were that same true red all the way through the fruit.

So far I've done Peach and Strawberry fruit jams. I want to do some apricot, maybe blueberry, and some cherry pie filling too.

peach and strawberry jam

My favorite though has got to be the Jalapeno Jelly that I did yesterday. Love it! I found the best recipe from the Texas homestead blog. It is the best Jalapeno jelly that I have ever made. This recipe is a true jalapeno jelly and not one that is mostly bell pepper with just one token jalapeno. You can find the recipe at the Texas Homesteader site.

Jalapeno jelly

The only changes that I made were to use powdered pectin and half of a finely chopped red bell pepper (just for some added color). I added the bell pepper half way through the cooking process so that the small chunks wouldn't disintegrate. I also did not add any food color (really, I think the natural color is so pretty that it doesn't need any food color, but to each his own.

jalapeno jelly on crackers with cream cheese
 This jelly goes great with meat like pork chops or chicken; It's also nice on a meat sandwich. I also serve it as an appetizer with cream cheese and jelly on crackers. Yum!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July Wreath
& wreath form tutorial

Happy 4th of July!!!

4th of july wreath

So today I found myself inspired by the many patriotic wreaths that I've seen on Pinterest lately.  I wanted to make something patriotic and fun for my apartment door to celebrate Independence day, but I didn't have a wreath form or any of the things that easily convert into a wreath form (pool noodle, big tube, pipe insulation).  I tried to buy a wreath form at some of my local stores here in Germany, but everywhere I went they were out of the light cheap kind that I wanted, and there was no way I was dropping 10 Euro on a metal form that didn't suit my needs!  I'm not much into power shopping so I admit to giving up the search after two stores and some subtle hints from the kids that they weren't digging the wreath form hunt.

Then inspiration hit me! I could make my whole project out of stuff I already had.  Actually, I took it as a challenge.  I knew that I had all that I needed, and more, at my own house.  No wreath form; No problem!

So, here is a little tutorial on making a Plastic Bag Wreath Form, and then the patriotic sparkler wreath.

Plastic Bag Wreath Form Tutorial


What you need for the wreath form:

Plastic grocery bags (any supermarket style bag will do.  You know that you have a ton of these stashed somewhere :)
Wire Coat Hanger
Pliers or strong fingers  

1. Bend your hanger into a circle shape.  It doesn't need to be perfect, but get it as round as you can.  Then, bend the hook over to form a loop.  This makes a nice hanger at the back of the wreath when you're done.


2. Grab your shopping bag by the bottom and tape the end around the hanger.  Then, begin to twist the bag around the hanger.  You don't want to do it too loose or too tight.  Once the whole bag is twisted around the hanger, tape the end to the hanger.


3. Continue adding bags around the hanger.  Slightly overlap the ends when adding a new bag.  Tape at the ends and at spots that don't want to behave as you go.  Continue adding layers around until it reaches the thickness you desire.


4. When you reach the loop you made from the hanger hook weave the bags through it for the first few layers so that you can get your finger through it. If you continue to add layers, like I did, just go around the loop without covering it too much.


5. You should end up with the nice sturdy wreath form. If at this point you think it's not quite round, don't be afraid to tug it into shape or add a bag in a spot that is not quite thick enough.


You can see in the last photo that I've already started to add my crepe paper to the wreath.
To make this 4th of July wreath (or your own variation) continue on.

Wreath Form
Crepe paper party streamers in Red, White, and Blue (1 roll each)
Stiff Paper for the stars
White Glitter (or Sugar) *optional*
Glittery ribbon in silver and gold (mine is the kind used for wrapping presents)
Wood Skewers
Black paint and White paint 
Blue and red ribbon (or whatever you have) to make a bow
hot glue

You are going to cover your wreath using little crepe paper florets for this project.  It's cheap and its easy.  I found it was easier to make a whole big pile of each color and then glue them to the form, but you can make the florets as you go.

1. Make the florets by cutting two pieces of crepe paper and crossing them over the top of each other (1). Don't make the pieces too long or they will stick up too much.  They should only be cut a bit longer than they are wide.  Pinch the center (2), and then twist them together (3) to form a little point at the bottom (4).  It's that easy.


2. Glue the florets onto the form in a flag style pattern as seen in the photo.

3. Cut your star shapes from some stiff paper. Paint them with white glue or white paint and shake on some glitter for sparkle. I didn't have any glitter so I used sugar instead. It worked great and my four-year-old thought it was super cool. Glue them to the blue field on your wreath.


4. To make the sparklers, paint the wood skewers black and then cut your sparkle ribbon into about 3.5 inch pieces. fold them in half and glue them to the tip of the skewer. I just had mine going every-which-way so they would resemble real sparklers. Then glue them to the wreath at a few points along the stick and where they cross each other.


5. Make a bow with your blue and red ribbon and glue it over the sparklers where they cross. This gives it a nice finished look. Then just hang your wreath and enjoy your holiday.


 Now go out and have a BBQ and enjoy the fireworks while you celebrate the freedom that we are so fortunate to have.
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