Can’t wait. (Plus a giveaway.)

They’re starting to turn red.

Blushy orange.

Plump and ripe.

Full of surprises.

I can’t wait.

Speaking of surprises, this plant (shown above) definitely surprised me. I had never seen or expected these blossoms. So, since you’re all so clever, how about you tell me what you think they are? Everyone who comments with a guess will be entered to win something fun from my stash–this is impromptu so I don’t know exactly what the prize is yet, but it will be of the fabricy variety. So tell me! Do you know what this plant is?

Good luck, and here’s to hoping you have beautiful ripening things in your gardens, too.



Tutorial: How to make a perfect four-patch quilt block.


Piecing a perfect four-patch block is just one of those things a quilter should have under their belt, if you know what I mean. Luckily, it’s a quick and easy process (nevermind that it took me about a billion pictures to show how easy it is…). Once you get the hang of it, you can crank these babies out in no time flat, and you’ll want to, they’re in a TON of patterns. I apologize in advance for these colors. They’re pretty much clashing with everything else here…

Start with 4 squares of fabric, all the same size.

Take the squares on the left and flip them over so they are face down on top of the fabrics on the right. The “right sides” of the squares should be facing each other. In quilting terms, this is called “right sides together”. I know, we’re a creative bunch. Pin, if necessary. My squares are only 2½” square, so it’s not needed in my case, but if you’re working with squares bigger than about 3″, I suggest pins.

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew both sets of two squares together using a straight stitch. To make things easier later, do NOT take a double stitch or backstitch on the first and last stitches.

They’ll look like this. Only with your fabrics, of course.

Put your sewn squares on your ironing board without opening them.

Press the seam allowance with a hot iron. I know this seems weird, but it’s called “setting” the seams. It makes the thread lay more flat so that when you open up the block and press it, it lays, well, more flat.

See? Looking flatter already.

Now, open up your pieces and lay them face down.

Decide which way you will press your seam allowance. Ideally, you will press in opposite directions, toward the darker fabric. So, see how the block on top is being pressed to the left, while the block on the bottom is being pressed to the right? This makes it really easy, later on, to make a perfectly aligned intersection. To make sure you don’t “lose” any fabric in the seam, gently pull both sides of the block away from the seam while using your fingers to press and hold the seam allowance the direction you will press it with the iron. Work slowly and carefully so you don’t skew or stretch your blocks.

Press with hot iron.

Now, place the right sides together again. You will notice that your seam allowances are facing different directions, directly opposite each other. You will also notice, that if you use your fingers to gently slide the blocks against each other, you can feel when the block “clicks” into place. This is usually called “butting” or “nesting” your seams, and is a great way to not only get precise intersections, but also to distribute bulk.

Pin. Usually, I will pin at the top, at each intersection, and at the bottom. If there is more than 3 inches or so between, I will pin there, too.

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew. Be sure to remove your pins before they go under your presser foot.

Lay flat on your ironing board, and set the seam.

Open up the block, face down on your ironing board. Push the seam allowance in opposite directions on the top and bottom.

Since you didn’t take any backstitches before, pushing the seam allowances will loosen those middle stitches, allowing them to come out and open up, like this. Isn’t it cute? Besides being cute, it is also much flatter than pressing your seam allowance all to one side. (There ARE situations where that is a better option, though, so follow your pattern’s instructions.)

Press it. (And when I say press it, I mean pick up your iron, and place it on the block. Straight down. Don’t move it around. That will just stretch and warp your block.)

Now, flip it over, and give it one more press. Voila! A perfect four-patch block!

I knew you could do it.

Any questions? Tips or tricks? Share!



Over the moon.

I got a sweet little gift this week.

“Look Mommy! I made you a quilt!”

Paper and pencil, only, but still just as precious as a fabric and stitch version.

And boy was she delighted when I told her we could make a real one.

(And boy was I delighted that she wanted to!)

She picked out the fabrics. (From Bonnie and Camille’s Bliss line for Moda)

I did the pinning with a little help from the boy.

I did the pedal, too. (She can’t reach it).

She guided the fabric, oh so carefully. I loved every minute.

And then, of course, it was naptime, which gave Mommy plenty of time to put the finishing touches on it. (Binding is Spirit by Lila Tueller for Moda).

It turned out so cute, I’m tempted to keep it, except for the look on her face when I gave it to her.

Over the moon.

Turns out, that’s how I feel about teaching her, too.



Recipe: Easy Raspberry Freezer Jam

Remember how I said I was going to have too many raspberries? The time has come. In fact, I think there are still some out on the bushes now, probably drying up. Honestly, I picked as many as I could without evaporating. It’s HOT out there.

Anyway, I got a LOT.

And I had just learned how to make freezer jam from a house party my sister threw. It was easy. And yummy.

So easy in fact, that I decided it would be the perfect “activity” for my kids to do.

Turns out making freezer jam utilizes several skills that come quite naturally to three-year-olds.

Mashing things, for example.

Stirring something for only 3 minutes. (Even they have that long of an attention span).

Sneaking tastes on the side.

And smearing it on any piece of bread that will stand still long enough. Even if it is a hot dog bun.

Yum.

And all I had to do was pour it in the jars.

They even put the lids on and took them out to the freezer for me. (This was one of several batches.)

Raspberry Freezer Jam

2 T Ball Realfruit instant pectin

2/3 cups sugar

1 2/3 cups mashed raspberries

Mix the sugar and pectin thoroughly.

Add in the mashed berries.

Stir for 3 minutes.

Put in clean jars.

Put the lid on.

Freeze.

Doesn’t get easier.

 



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