Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Today I decided to experiment with making my own vanilla extract.  I had all the ingredients and was feeling adventurous, so why not?

I filled an old wine bottle with vodka, added 12 split vanilla beans, and corked it.  Simple enough, right?  I'll let you know how it works out in 2 months! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

Every year my church participates in Operation Christmas Child.  If you are not familiar, Operation Christmas Child is a program organized by Samaritan's Purse that collects shoe boxes filled with items to give to children in impoverished countries.

Last year I made a doll quilt and mini pillow to include in my box and I plan to do the same this year.  There are so many things I love about doing this.  I love being able to use my quilting skills to send a personal and love-filled gift to a little girl for Christmas.  And if sending a homemade gift to someone wasn't enough, it's also a great way to use up some scraps!

How amazing would it be if we made hundreds of these boxes with dolls and homemade quilts?  If you are interested in participating, it's really easy!  Samaritan's Purse has all of the information on their website and has drop off locations all over the country.

So, are you up for joining in the fun too?

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Tote

You know, I probably made this bag a month ago. At that time I was fed up with my birdie sling. Although I appreciate the large size of the birdie sling, the shape of the bag is the issue. If I need a pen, I like to be able to keep the bag on my shoulder, reach in, and get my pen. The incredibly deep bag and narrow opening made it quite difficult to accomplish this.

While desperately searching for a new pattern, I had my eye out for something that was still large enough to carry a few books plus the ordinary purse items but was more shallow and wide at the top. Thankfully, I found the Pleated Tote by Jen Gidden's on Etsy. It's fantastic! Not only is the bag the perfect size and shape, the pattern is concise and well written. Each step is explained well and is not full of extraneous information.

The pattern calls for the bag to be interfaced using duck cloth. This is my first time using it and I am very pleased with the results! The duck cloth holds its shape very well and gives my bag more structure. The pattern recommends using bottomweight or home dec fabric for the exterior to help it hold its shape. However, since I had this pretty Nicey Jane print already, I decided to just interface the exterior as well. I don't think the structure of the bag suffered at all from using a quilting cotton plus duck cloth for the exterior. In comparison to the lightweight plus fusible fleece interfacing used in my birdie sling, I would say this is a superior way to interface. The only downside is that it was a little difficult to sew through all of the layers at the straps. I used a denim needle and just took it slow and steady.

I opted to deviate from the pattern with the interior pocket style. In the past few bags I have made, the pockets have been simple squares or rectangles sewn to the lining and I don't find them very functional. I decided to go for a full width series of pockets sewn into four smaller pockets. After using this for several weeks, I am finding that the slightly extra planning was certainly worth it. The series of smaller pockets hold my pens, keys, phone, and iPod much nicer than a simple catch all pocket.

All in all, I am very happy with my new tote. It is functional and very cute.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Busy, busy bee!

I have been busy sewing away today and have been able to catch up in both of my bees. Yay for being productive!

For this month in my scrap busting bee,  Sabrina sent us a bunch of squares to make wonky stars per this tutorial.  These are quick and fun blocks to make!

By finishing these two blocks, I am completely finished with both my quilting bees.  How did that happen already?  I'm not sure what I am going to do with myself.  I think it's time to determine whether I'd like to hop into another bee or take a break.  I can see pros and cons for both.  Hmmm... decisions.

At least it has felt like August outside

I have been a really bad bee member.  Bronwen sent me fabric in August for her block.  You see, she asked for pintucks and I have never done those before.  They look pretty intimidating and I did some major procrastinating. 

Well, let me tell you, they're not hard at all!  I feel a bit foolish about putting it off for so long!  This block came together pretty quickly and I'm happy with how it turned out.  Success!