Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday--Sleep/Play Mat

Before I begin with what I'm working on, I'm wondering if you've had a chance to vote for my fabric design on Connecting Threads? I have some tulips up there as well, but Purple Haze seems to be getting more attention. Vote here if you want, I'm the second row down. Also while you are there, Lee from Freshly Pieced has a really nice fabric and looks like she could even win this thing!

My Mother-in-Law and I had a wonderful trip to Ikea. I have to admit, it's one of my favourite places. While we were there we got a few cool things. One of which is what will become my new sewing desk! :o)

We also found this in the children's section:
Now while I won't be using a duvet in my daughter's crib (because of the risk of SIDS) we wanted her to have a nice sleep mat at my in-law's house. Now Ikea's idea of the size of a duvet and the duvet we already have are two very different things. Thankfully Ikea's is larger. So, into the sewing closet I go with one way too big duvet cover and a pillow case, and out I come with this:

Who doesn't love this fabric for play/nap mat for little people?

The pillow case with a seam added to one side at the top
and then I ran a ribbon through the seam.
I got the idea here from In Color Order.

And here it is all put away and ready for our next trip to my In-Law's

And thanks to Deborah from Whipstitch Fabrics and her blog post about Nancy Zieman, I turned out a really sharp corner with extreme ease (you'll have to forgive the fact that I cheated and didn't press a thing when I was sewing this). I'm super excited about many of the great sewing tips in Nancy's new book Sewing A to Z, especially when it shows me how to do great things like this. 

If I don't win a copy it will have to go on the books to purchase list, it's just that awesome.
I also got a whole 10 minutes while my daughter was napping to square up the HSTs I've been working on for my stock exchange quilt. Naps seem to be pretty short when you have someone using a jack-hammer on the balcony next door. Gee I wonder why. . .   :oP

Finally made it to the fabric store this afternoon and picked up a few things, including some red and white velour for stockings! Embroidery needles and thread to finish the border of the Brown Bear Quilt. And who could forget the $0.90 piece of Velcro to repair a couple of my daughter's diapers. 

Oh, and I can't forget a finish from this past week. I blogged about it here, but here's a picture of it again for eye candy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Machine pieced cathedral window pillow--it's bright!

Wow, three posts in a day. Can you tell my daughter is being an absolute gem today? She's so focused on figuring out how to move around on her knees, she doesn't need me to entertain her.

She's also napping very well which allowed me to finish this:

It isn't perfect. But I'm happy with it.

Okay, time to get some things off the non-sewing to do list. Uggg.

Yay! I love free fabric days

In case you haven't heard, it's free swatch day at spoonflower.com!  

I only just recently heard about this, and found out that they do free shipping EVEN TO INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS! I knew I loved spoonflower.com for a reason. Not only do they allow me to create any fabric I can come up with, but they'll ship to me the same way they would an Amercian. Yay!

Details can be found here on their website and the offer runs today from 12PM EST until 11:59AM EST tomorrow.

I'm curious to see what everyone else chose as their fabric. Post a comment or send me a note.

And the verdict is. . .

A zig-zag.

I continued to play with it during breakfast and came up with this kind of off-set zig-zag:

And although I'm normally terrible with coming up with names for quilts and fabrics. I already have a name for this one! The TSX (the Toronto Stock Exchange). Isn't it just a perfect name? :oP

Now it's time to go square them up. Thankfully I'm cheating and using my AccuQuilt Studio Strip Cutter for that. I'm not always happy with the cuts I make with a rotary cutter. :o$  Maybe someday it's a skill I'll get better at. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Thank you Auntie GAB! For what? For this:

and this...

and this. . .

Why I am saying thank you, is because I now know why my muffins used to totally suck. I was over stirring and my baking powder was old. Solution: stir less and double up on your baking powder. And now I have yummy muffins that look like they are from a bakery (especially since I've started over filling the muffin tins! :oD

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday--A HST gift from Mom

During my recent trip west to visit my family, my Mom pulled out a bunch of HST that she had cut from some gorgeous batik fabrics (HST as in Half Square Triangles for the non-quilters reading this, not HST as in Harmonized Sales Tax). She confessed that she had planned on making a quilt for me, but that she didn't like how it was turning out and stopped working on it. Well, she decided to give them to me as is to see what I could do with them! Score!   :oD

Well, I've been playing with them for weeks. After seeing this quilt...
Copyright All rights reserved by freshlypieced
I was inspired and knew that I wanted to do something working with playing the warm versus the cool tones. I finished sewing the last square this weekend and got all the seams pressed yesterday. Today while I had guests here, I just couldn't resist laying a few squares out to see how they looked and pulled them out. Probably makes me a bad hostess, but I was with other creative people so maybe it's okay. . . 

Anyway, here are the top six layouts I've tried so far (please don't mind the pictures--I do most of my playing with fabric at night after my daughter's asleep, so the colours are always a little darker):

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Option 5

Option 6
Do you have a favourite? If so why? I need to pin down a decision and get sewing them together. It really isn't like me to be so indecisive.

No finishes this week. Although I have made good progress on the Cathedral Window pillow for my niece. I'll post a picture when I get the back on to it. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The invasion of 50 lbs of tomatoes

Am I crazy? Likely. But I'm good with that.

After reading up on introducing solids to my daughter, I realized that a certain processed food staple in my families' diet isn't prepared in the ideal way for my little one. Oh kaboodles! There's no way we can live without pasta sauce in this household. I try to make a lot of our foods from scratch, but pasta sauce wasn't one I really considered before. Especially since times where I'm having a  rough day and don't feel like takeout, we often don't do take out, we do fresh pasta. After all, once you have the water boiled you can be sitting down to a meal in 4 minutes flat. And it only runs us around $5 to feed both of us. Much cheaper than ordering in. 

So, I decided to make my own sauce. This is where you know I'm crazy. My kitchen is lovely, but TINY. So tiny in fact that my sister calls it a "one bum kitchen". Thankfully, my sink is pretty large. I was able to fit 1/2 a bushel in the sink at once, which makes one really, really big pot of sauce.

Here we have proof of the tomato invasion, this is only half of them. 25 lbs of Roma tomato goodness:

My husband thought the sauce looked pretty funky after I poured some of the seasonings in.

And here's the after shot. Well, almost after. . . 18 jars down, 18 freezer bags to go.

Time to go stir. More sewing posts soon, I promise!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My quest to avoid unnecessary chemicals--the hunt for muffin tins

Have you read the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie? If you are up for your eyes being opened to the plethora of chemicals we are unknowing exposing ourselves to, I highly recommend it. I've linked to Amazon so you can see a little bit of the book. Just click on the picture of it below.

One chapter of the book is focused on what the Guinness Book of World Records deems to be the world's slipperiest substance--Teflon. Here's an excerpt from the book:

"It's well known that Teflon--and its chemical relatives (called PFCs, or perfluorinated compounds)--are used to coat frying pans. Less well known is the fact that they're also used to line pizza boxes and windshield wipers and to make bullets and computer mice, and they're a key ingredient in cosmetics and clothing.

"It's Everywhere," says DuPont's tagline for Teflon. And that is precisely the problem. It's not supposed to be everywhere. Not in the flesh of ringed seals in the Arctic. Not in the blood of 98 percent of Americans and certainly not--as we shall see--in the drinking water of the residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia."

The story of what happened to the town of Parkersburg is shocking. But what's more shocking is we are using this stuff everywhere! Yes, I understand that it is durable, fireproof, and nothing sticks to it. "But the very properties that make PFOA [the chemical in Teflon] commercially desirable also cause environmental and human health concerns. Its durability, slipperiness and resistance to breakdown are a major problem. Nothing gets rid of it. Not sunlight. Not our stomach acids. Once PFOA is created it takes a very, very long time to go away. It may persist in the environment for centuries. Every molecule that has ever been created is still around and will be around for the foreseeable future." 

As a breastfeeding mother, I was pretty concerned when I realized that this stuff is in my breast milk. Great, I'm feeding this chemical to my daughter that is believed to be toxic and cause developmental issues, birth defects, hormone disruption and high cholesterol. Yummy! Here Sweetie have some more.

Well, it goes without saying that when it was time to get muffin tins, we didn't want a non-stick coated variety. Should be pretty simple, right? Not so much. 

I had tried a silicon version in the past and hated them so much that I threw them out. Me. I threw something out. Yes, I can see jaws dropping. For those who don't know me, I try to free-cycle, craigslist, donate to others, or at the very least recycle something. Not the silicon muffin cups. They were virtually impossible to get clean and thus I couldn't get them clean enough that I was willing to give them away. Silicon on it's own is annoying to clean, but when you add ridges and baked on oils. Uggg. NEVER AGAIN!

So we start our search, going to all kinds of places that sell new muffin tins because I love homemade banana cherry muffins. Off we go to Zellers, Walmart, specialty housewares stores. No luck. We were even scoping the isles of our local thrift shops, and yard sales. Still no luck. At this point I was getting pretty fed up and turned to my mother-in-law for some advice on where to go, it's been a couple months at this point and I really miss homemade muffins. My mother-in-law has been very good at finding things in stores for us in the past that we haven't been able to. 

Well, low and behold, she has muffin tins of her late mothers that she doesn't like the size of, so she passed them on to us. SCORE! Well, I took a good 5 to 10 minutes with my amazing Shaklee pots and pan scrub and here we have our 'new' muffin tins. And the best part is, in a couple of years when my daughter is old enough to make muffins with me, she'll be making them with her great grandmother's muffin tins.

Now that we have these and I'm not looking for my muffin pans, I've found out that Pampered Chef sells both a stainless steel line and a stone line of bakewear that would have done the job. Guess I should have gone to that party when I was invited. . .

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

A funny thing happened today. I've spent part of my day gathering the things I need to can my own tomato sauce for the first time. I plan on using the recipe in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver which I just pulled out a day or two ago. Now much to my surprise, when I logged on to catch up one what's happening in blogland I discover that Deborah of Whipstitch Fabrics has the same book on her mind. Check out her blog post here if you haven't already. And check out the book here if you are interested in purchasing it.

This is a book I will never grow tired of reading. I love the story of her family embarking on creating what is a more sustainable life for them and their connection to the land. It makes me want to move out to the country and grow everything we eat. But instead, I think we'll stay in the heart of our city and just go to the farmers market that just moved across the street from us a month ago.   :o)   No more walking a whole 3 blocks for fresh veggies. 

© Monahan | Dreamstime.com
The recipes in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle are great recipes. I've used more recipes from this book then I have from some of my cookbooks that I own! So now it's time to try my hand at the pasta sauce recipe. Friday morning, I'm dragging my husband out of bed and sending him to purchase a bushel of tomatoes. I almost feel bad for him, but he loves his pasta and hates to cook, so it seems like a fair exchange. For those of your who would like to try the recipes for yourself, Camille Kingsolver has been kind enough to post them online for free. You can grab them here. I highly recommend the lasagna, I hide things like zucchini in it all the time on my husband and he doesn't really notice it.

I'll have to remember to share details about my first attempt at canning. Cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tempting Tuesday--snap purse

What did we do before the days of the internet and google? Did you know that you can now take a photo to do a search on google images? I haven't tried it yet but I have a feeling this may make finding favourite fabrics that are sold out in most places easier!

As for projects I'm in love with, I came across this tutorial on making a really cute snap bag with an old tape measure. I had a change purse when I was really little that snapped shut that I just adored. It's time for there to be one in my future.

I think it is time for me to get back on to Freecycle. I can't find one of our 3 tape measures right now, I definitely can't spare one to cut up for a bag. . .but someone out there should have a broken one. Hooray for finding a use for someone else's garbage.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cloth diapers? Are you crazy?!?

No, we're not crazy. It just made sense for us. We looked at it from a few different angles.

We spent around $400 for 24 of our diapers. These are expected to last until our daughter is potty trained. If we were buying diapers, let's assume that they would cost us around $0.38 a diaper(assuming we were purchasing Huggies from Walmart) and that our daughter will be somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 before she is potty trained. We typically go through around 10 diapers a day (this may reduce in the future, but it was definitely higher when she was first born). So we would be looking at spending anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 on diapers approximately.

We also don't often use baby wipes, so there is a bit of cost savings there too. 

We've tried disposable diapers on our daughter. We decided to use them until her cord dried up and fell off and we tried them for a bit during a family vacation. With the disposable diapers we found that they weren't as absorbent as our chosen cloth diaper and we had to deal with a lot more diaper rashes when using the disposable diapers. This makes for a less happy baby and therefore less happy parents.

Also, I should mention, we only use wipes if we are doing a diaper change where we don't have easy access to water. OMG! No baby wipes. Relax, a warm damp washcloth cleans your child just as well and may be better for them. I.e., fewer irritating chemicals. We've had this confirmed to us by many public health nurses and a few doctors too. If she's really, really dirty then in my mind it is time for a quick bath anyway.

Now I have a feeling you may be sitting there thinking that having a newborn is a ton of work and that you aren't going to have the time to wash all these diapers. Well, if you have a modern washing machine with a sanitize cycle, it really isn't that much work. Actually, for us, it felt like less work because we didn't have to make a trip out to the store to go buy more diapers. I really didn't feel like dumping a bag of diapers in the washing machine and pressing a few buttons was overly taxing in my sleep deprived state during the first couple of months.

Now this is where picking out the right diaper for you makes all the difference. 
We wanted a diaper that we could wash ourselves and acted like a disposable when putting it on our daughter. I couldn't for a second picture my husband trying to fold and pin a cloth diaper. And we didn't like the idea of all the harsh chemicals used when using diapers from a diapering service. What we picked goes on just like a disposable diaper would and can be cleaned in our washing machine. In the cloth diaper world, it is called an All-in-One diaper. 

Now there are a few different types of All-in-One diapers and they aren't all the same. We decided that for us, the snaps weren't the right option. We chose a velcro style of diaper that works from 7lbs until it's time to leave diapers (even though the velcro likely won't last through more than one child). But even more importantly, we chose a diaper where the liner comes out on its own in the washing machine (i.e., no stuffing my hand in a gross diaper to pull out the liner when putting it into the machine). This makes a huge difference. I literally take the diaper bag and dump it into the washing machine, no thought or extra steps involved. And the diaper bags you can get are sooooo much cuter than a diaper genie and the tonnes of plastic the diaper genie uses any day. Check out the bags you can get from Monkey Foot Designs. We love ours.

What diaper did we choose? Mommy's Touch Easy Clean Touchtape

The impact to the environment was a consideration for me. Not so much for my husband. I'm pretty sure he just sees it as a nice bonus. I think it's the dollar savings and ease of use that wooed him over to the cloth diaper side [insert evil laugh here]. 

We've started to joke that he should become a paid salesman for Mommy's Touch the way he will talk them up to anyone that is willing to listen for a minute about them.

There are a couple. Nothing is perfect.

1) If you use a diaper cream with zinc in it or fabric softener you will have issues with the absorbency of your diaper. For us this isn't an issue. The diapers are super soft, they don't need fabric softener. And our diaper cream works so much better than many of the zinc based creams. Oh Bum Bum Balm how we love you. . . but I'll save that review for another post.

2) The diapers are bigger than disposables. They take up more space in diaper bags and your babies butt will look large than others. Really for us, not having to worry about when she's going to outgrow her current diaper size, it wasn't that big of a deal. And I haven't had a pair of pants or outfit that didn't fit because of the diaper.

3) You have to lug dirty diapers home with you when you go out. We have a smaller diaper bag that we just hang off of our stroller. It is a bit of a pain, but we could always use a disposable diaper or two while we are out if we wanted.

4) You may need to do a few minor velcro repairs here or there. I've had a couple stitches come out on a couple of diapers. We could still be using the diapers as they are, but being that I can sew, I've just reinforced a seam on the velcro here or there on a couple of the diapers.

As I'm sure you can tell from my review, we love our diapers. I'm so glad that a stranger took the time to whip off her son's diaper in front of me to tell me about how wonderful these diapers really are. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday on Friday again--machine pieced cathedral windows

Did I finish my place-mats? Nope. Did I start something new? Yeap. Oh well, it's all good. I have a couple finishes (yay!)

This week I started and finished the Tinkerbell skirt for my niece and it's ready to hit the postal system and make it's way halfway across our great country. I used Dana of Made's simple skirt tutorial.

I made some peacock feather earrings and blogged about it here.

I also got a little bit further with my machine pieced cathedral window quilt. It was started in a course my Mom and I took together. Do you want to see it so far? You might want sunglasses for this one!

I machine pieced it, but I'm hand stitching the 'windows'. You definitely could machine stitch those, but I'm not that talented with my machine (yet). Plus, I find it kind of relaxing to sit and sew by hand. Maybe not an entire queen sized quilt any time soon, but for a pillow cover I think it is just right. When this is finished, it will probably be a Christmas gift for someone. After all it is made with some of my prized Kona cottons.

Now for the exciting part! I plan on taking the concept of this pattern and making it my own. I think I've figured out how to do a diamond cathedral window quilt, mostly by machine! You tell me, how cool do you think that would be? Maybe not this week though. . . the sewing is piling up and my six month old daughter has some nasty eczema that she keeps trying to scratch and may be getting her 5th tooth. Poor little thing!

Still in the works:
* Brown Bear, Brown Bear quilt. I still need to get embroidery needles for my machine (and some thread) so I can satin stitch around the letters in the border.
* My Asian bargello quilt. Didn't touch this at all this week
* Some clothing alterations for my husband and I. This needs to move up the list. I'm breastfeeding and the pounds are just falling off. . . and so are my pants!
* Felt circle curtains. I still need to get a piece of doweling to hang them from.
* My machine pieced cathedral window piece from the quilting course my Mom and I took as her  Mother's Day gift.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tempting Tuesday

Like so many other artisans, I am constantly tempted to start new projects before I finish the last one. There are just so many amazing things I feel inspired by when I see them. I thought I'd share a few. Maybe by posting them here I'll be able to hold off and finish what I'm working on instead.     :o)




Monday, August 1, 2011

So proud

My Mom and I pooled our money for Christmas last year and bought one of my nieces a sewing machine. Well, I knew she'd use it, but I never expected this. . . 

She has made her first dress for herself! 

And not only did she make it, she did it without a pattern at 11 years old. She just decided what she wanted it to look like and did it. She wore this to my sister's wedding reception in Saskatchewan. We couldn't be prouder.