Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wonky Pink Ribbon Quilt

The blocks for this quilt I made about six months ago.  Some time afterwards I added the white sashing and borders. A month or so ago I bought material for the backing and bamboo and organic cotton batting. But it wasn't until this weekend that I could put it all together.

The quilt was measuring about 48" and the back would need to be pieced. I decided to add a long strip to each side to make up the 48" plus extra for quilting. It went together quicker than I anticipated. The sandwiching went well too. I placed the top, batting, and backing all together on the floor and pinned the layers together.

I wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt it. I could follow the lines, make geometric designs or just do free motion quilting all over. I hadn't yet attempted to do free motion quilting on an entire quilt this size. It seemed to be going well and it was nice to be able to squiggle from one block to the next.

Close up of FMQ and backing shown on lower left corner
My sewing machine did have some issues. I kept breaking needles and my bobbins weren't winding all the way. Finally I looked up ways to fix my winding issues and found an answer! Then I decided I'd clean my bobbin case and try to be extra careful with my movements. I guess all those things did the trick. I finished my squiggles with less interruptions and am happy with the finished product.

Finally I added a binding by machine and then hand stitched the back side down. I wasn't sure if I should use more white or the backing fabric. I ended up with the brown and pink backing fabric and think the was a good choice.

The fabrics used in the quilt were leftover from my baby carrier pack I made about two years ago.  After shooting these pictures, we went right to nap time, snuggling together under our new quilt.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Royal Icing Revisited

After making the gingerbread cookies for the homebirth picnic, I was reminded what a nice offering cut out cookies are.  When I was looking around for a house cookie cutter, I had found a very cute fish cutter and thought it would be nice for my little fish, Kessa.  This summer she has become quite the swimmer.

As swim lessons were finishing up, I thought fish cookies might be a nice gift for the swim instructor.  And because the gingerbread recipe makes so many cookies, why not treat the whole life guarding staff to cookies.  They have been very supportive and kind to us this summer.

I had just enough time to bake the cookies, but I kept wishing I would have time to frost them too.  I wanted to work with royal icing again.

Our swim instructor was heading back to college and we would finish up our two remaining lessons with another instructor.  Somehow she had missed out on last week's cookie offering!  We were attending a party for friends and my mom's birthday was coming, that gave me three great reasons to make more cookies!

I started in the morning thinking I would just make some fish cookies again for the swim teacher and then chill the rest of the dough until I could make more.  But somehow everything went very smoothly and quickly and I made all the cookies at once.  Having a late sleeping toddler has everything to do with it I'm sure.

Still having royal icing on the mind, and a free afternoon, I wondered if we could make it happen.  I was nervous about using my hand mixer again.  My only experience with royal icing was with my mom and the unicycle cookies.  I read the royal icing recipe again:  4 cups of powdered sugar, 2 TB of meringue powder and 5 TB of water, and then add more water for piping.  I wondered if I just added an extra tablespoon of water from the beginning if my mixer would be happier and it might just work out for piping.  It did!  The icing mixed up beautifully and then I quickly moved to coloring small batches.  I was concerned about it drying out and when my two year old couldn't locate the plastic wrap, I enlisted the help of my eight year old, Sydney and later my twelve year old, Kyle as well.

We laid out the cookies and started decorating.  Sydney was very happy to be decorating along with me.  The icing was perhaps a touch soft for decorating, but it seemed to work well and was very easy to handle.  Our biggest challenge was Kessa being her wiggly self, but that's when Kyle came to the rescue and read stories to her.

decorated gingerbread cookies, butterflies, party cake
As royal icing dries quickly, that is exactly what it did!  I almost wished we had even more time to do some flooding first, but I think with the gingerbread background, the colorful embellishments we made showed up just fine.

After making three batches of cookies within a month, I wondered why I don't make cookies other times of the year.  I grew up with my mom making cookies for every occasion and even just because.  I think the biggest reason is that at our schools, homemade goodies are no longer accepted and with that many opportunities to make cookies have been lost.  I will just need to keep the cookies in mind for other parties and gifts.  It's an enjoyable activity and becoming even easier as the kids get older.