Monday, September 1, 2014

An August Finish, I'm a Winner, and Fair Entries

Well!  One can tell we started working full time again, as I only have one finish this month.  Turns out I'm not so great at organizing my free time, weird.  (That's completely sarcastic, in case you couldn't tell lol).  However, I do have a finish, and I am so happy with it!
 
Using the Clover Clips for the first time.  And as everyone else says, they are awesome.
 
Showing off the backing and length of the table runner, it's 56 inches long, 18 inches wide.
 
 
And complete!  It maybe took me 2 hours to sew down the binding, and mostly it took that long because we were watching the Seahawks play the Raiders last Thursday.
 
I'm making this one extra big so you can see my quilting!  It turned out good enough, I have to keep telling myself I'm still learning, but I will say, my dad could tell it was footballs, and that is what matters.
 
 And the table runner is staying at our house, to complement our banner:
 

 
 
 
 So then, this has been a really "winning" month for me, and I fell so blessed.  It happens when it needs to most, the last few months have been a little tight.  The first item I won (and of course don't have a picture of) was the door prize at Guild!  I received six fat 1/8ths of baby-themed flannel and a package of crib-sized batting.  The second item was from Carol at Just Let Me Quilt who had participated in the Pets on Quilts Show at LilyPad Quilting and had a giveaway which I won :)



I was not expecting the amount of fabric she sent me, what a pleasant surprise!
And the third blessing was from my entry in the Sew Lux Christmas in July sew along.  I won a $50 gift card to their shop!  I placed my order and it will be showing up this week, and I'm very excited.  I was able to order items I normally wouldn't get for myself (a pattern and a layer cake), and some Aurifil thread which is always useful.  So a big thank you to the ladies who had these giveaways, and thank you to the fabric gods for my good fortune!
 
And last, but not least, we had the Walla Walla County Fair and Rodeo this weekend.  All three of the quilts I entered won blue ribbons, which surprised me.  John says it's because I know all my little errors in my pieces so I expect others to see them as well.
There's my BOO quilt to greet everyone as they come up the stairs in the Pavilion.

My star quilt is in the center on the bottom, and the blue hearts are on the right.  The judge left me love notes on the labels of my quilts, which I appreciate.
We received tickets to the rodeo via my dad (Thanks dad!) on Friday night, which was super fun to attend, especially since I work for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association or NIRA, which in laymen's terms means college rodeo, and there were kids who's names I recognized!  And the fact that it is a PRCA event (aka professional rodeo...) makes it even more impressive that college level students participate and win.  Sweet.  Here are a couple of the more clear photos I got that night.  The lighting is hard to work with unless you have a REALLY nice camera.  But I got some fun pictures!
 



 
 
Now I have to finish up the block I'm entering in the Block Challenge for the Walla Walla Quilt Festival that is coming up in a couple weeks, I have most of it done but here's a sneak peak:
The colorful one is the challenge fabric.  I chose to make it a two color block because I felt it shows off the challenge fabric the best.

And here it is in process, the blanks are filled with quarter-square triangle blocks, it is very good looking I think.  I'm excited to see what everyone else's interpretations are of this challenge fabric.

Thanks for visiting, I'll be sure to share the photos from John and me visiting Kalispell, MT a couple weeks ago, it was fabulous!  See you soon!

~Brandy
 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Baby Shower Cakes

I am so thankful for my ability to take a fondant design and make it happen in frosting.  I just dislike fondant.  It tastes funny, has a weird texture, and I want people to enjoy eating what I make, not just enjoy how it looks.  So thus far, I refuse to use fondant on my cakes.  However, it hasn't stopped me making some stinkin' cute designs!  A friend from high school saw pictures on my Facebook page (one of the few reasons I'm still on Facebook, people can see what I'm capable of quicker) and called me about making a couple baby shower cakes for the same weekend.  She's a darn good friend, hosting two separate showers in one weekend, and travelling over 5 hours across the state to do so!  The first shower didn't really need cake, but she wanted to have a cupcake bouquet to give the mom-to-be, so I made this:

I was told the theme was "rustic country" and I felt the cup fit that really well.

The other baby shower was jungle themed.  We sent pictures back and forth and finally decided to use this one as a pattern:

http://www.cutest-baby-shower-ideas.com/jungle-animals-baby-shower-cakes.html
This sure is a cute cake, but as I said, no fondant.
 
This was a new trick for me, I don't often have cakes that have multi colored backgrounds.  I left the background a little rougher than I normally would because I knew there would be foliage to help cover, plus it's the jungle!
 
Outlining the giraffe.
 
 
Working the monkey, they sure look funny without eyes :)
 
I just had to throw a vine in to see how it would look with the leaves.
 
And I allowed the monkey to have a banana, because I'm nice like that.
 
A baby elephant joins the party.
 
Monkey finished!
 
Elephant finished!
 
Giraffe finished!
 
And foliage finished!
 
I made sure to have a picture of the cake without writing so people can see it and imagine their own message in the blank space.
 
Also, it was an amazing change when I added those darker green leaves, the cake looks so much better for them!  The original designer knew what she was doing for sure, and I appreciate being able to learn from her.  Every time I would catch a glimpse of this cake out of the corner of my eye I would squeal a little because it turned out so well!
 
And all done!  The blue is Wilton Sparkle Gel I had leftover from being used in a pond on a construction themed cake.  The only thing I dislike about the gel is that it doesn't harden, which makes putting plastic wrap over the cake nearly impossible.  Fortunately I have a cake container that I bought from the grocery store that this was able to fit in, which protects the cake from dust.
 
The most amazing thing about this cake is that it is a white cake, and I don't like the taste of white cake (I'm a chocoholic) but this one was delicious!  I used Duncan Hines cake mixes, and had farm fresh eggs on hand so I used them, and I think the eggs made the difference.  And my friend told me the girls at the shower couldn't believe she didn't pick the cake up at a bakery!  Their so kind.  I'm glad they enjoyed it as much as I did!
 
So, in case you're wondering, I used 2 Duncan Hines White cake mixes, made two batches of frosting, used at least 8 different tips, and this took ~5 hours to decorate.  This is a single layer cake, and serves 15-20 people.  I have decided I need to re-evaluate how much I charge, as I definitely didn't take into account the time consuming nature of having 8 different colors (the pink roses were made at the same time) and getting them all mixed together added an hour to what I forecasted.  I learn something new every time I make a cake!
 
Thanks for stopping by!
~Brandy

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Christmas in July finish! (photo heavy)


Well, I'm pretty happy with myself, I just completed a project that satisfied my yearning for Christmas fabric, that need to make a Christmas something, and allowed me to practice my quilting.  I found a blog that hosted a Christmas in July hop which focused on small projects that can easily be finished before Christmas.  And on top of that they're offering a giveaway for making one of the projects!  I was immediately drawn to the first project they showed, which is a wreath wall hanging and also their button for the hop:
 
 
http://sewlux.blogspot.com/2014/07/christmas-in-july-project-link-up.html
 
After I read thru the instructions a couple times I convinced myself I needed to use the Solstice mini charm pack, so I went to Stash and bought one.  And what were the odds, they were having a sale!  If I was really wise, I'd have bought two... oh well!  The tutorial mentions using some extra fabric for the grey and red borders, and I thought oh I should be fine, I have red and grey in my stash.  As you will see, they were not the right colors, so I improvised!  Also, as I was assembling the top I came to the conclusion that since I already have a Christmas wall hanging, that this would make a fabulous pillow sham.  So that's what I did, and here's how mine was done differently than their tutorial:
 
Making my wreath have a rounded look, I chose to not take one of the greens to sacrifice for use on the inside corners, instead I figured I could use the little triangles from these outside corners

And I did!  Wasn't the easiest thing in the world, but I made it happen.


The center created!

Had to do the magic twist of course :)  By the way, if I ever make this again, I will press the seams all towards the green (or possibly open) for stitching-in-the-ditch purposes.
Here I was figuring out how I wanted to balance my reds and greys.  The off-white has a gold sparkle on it that is really subtle but ended up matching what I chose for the backing really well.
And here it is assembled.  At the time of adding the off-white border I decided to square it up, which unfortunately brought the dimensions down to 1 3/4" instead of 2", which normally wouldn't be a problem, except that the outside border is a bunch of mini charms... so I had to fudge a little here and there.  My husband pointed out that unless you're looking for it, people probably won't notice.

To make the bow I cut out the only fusible interfacing I had and auditioned the size and placement.

Then fused it to the back of the red.
And sewed it on.  And took it off.  4 times.  Turns out I didn't know what I was doing in this case, and after a lot of trial and error that included trying to hand embroider these pieces on I figured out I needed to add some of the interfacing to the back of the top.  What was happening was the fabric was bunching up like crazy as I tried to go around the bottom of the ribbon pieces and was causing really bad puckering.

But this helped a lot!  Again, if I do this project again, I will use my normal method of applique and do the whole turn inside-out after sewing the interfacing to the fabric then iron it to the top, and sew around the edge with a straight stitch.  Lesson learned!
Top complete and ready to baste and quilt.

I follow Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt for my free motion quilting practice, which is what is up on my computer in the background.  My Bernina and I are working on becoming friends again.  Mostly I find she likes Aurifil thread as long as it's in the bobbin as well as is the top thread, I never had any problems with breakage in this whole project.  Probably helps that I also had the tension under control.

A snowflake centerpiece.  I found while doing this that I really need the lines to follow or I end up all over the place, my hands have a greater tendency to lose control of the fabric and my stitches get all out of control.  It seems so weird, but then I remind myself, that's why they make stencils!
 
Here's how the quilting started out, I was so happy how well it made the wreath puff out!  It helped too that I used 1/2" batting.  I have heard people say that they think stippling is so overused, but I must tell you how super proud I am of myself for doing this stipple, as I said above I am not so good at not following lines, and this was all done without them!  And John was super impressed with me as well, which is always nice.

And from the front.

Quilting complete!

I made this as big as I could so you can see the quilting.  I used Lori's tutorial on for the holly leaves, and made up the corners which is snowflake inspired (John's idea).  I also went back and outlined the inside of the wreath as well as the outside of the off-white border.  It often amazes me how big a difference such a simple outline can make.
And complete!  All I did was add the backing pieces to make a pillow sham, although I did have to piece together my backing pieces to make it work.

The inside seam brought the sham down to about 14.5" x 14.5", so fit my 14" pillow form just right!
 
The only thing I'm contemplating is adding a couple snap buttons to the back to help hold the overlap in place, as I discovered that 2 inches of overlap is NOT enough, you definitely want at least 5 inches.  At least, if you ever plan on anyone seeing the back.  Or if you want the pillow to stay inside the sham.  :)
So I hope you're inspired to get ahead on your Christmas projects as well, I am off to work on that wedding quilt for the wedding that happened over a month ago now... no more procrastinating for the rest of the year!  AHAHAHAHAHA, right.
 
Have a great day!
~Brandy