Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tortellini Salad

I needed a pot luck item and remembered having a nice tortellini salad with artichoke hearts in it at another party. After considering some recipes, I decided to combine a couple.

Refrigerated tortellini
Yellow pepper
Grape tomatoes
Artichoke hearts
Black olives
Fresh parsley
Fresh Parmesan
Olive oil vinaigrette dressing

Friday, August 30, 2013

Quilted Placemats

This project started out with sunflower fabric and three coordinating fabrics.  I was initially picturing a tote bag, but then decided to pursue placemats.

After looking at some placemat images, I liked the idea of "slice and insert" for creating the strips and showing off so much of the sunflower fabric. The concept is quite easy, but the key is to keep the cut parts lined up when sewing them back together. 

I first took a 13"x17" rectangle of the sunflower print and made a cut 10" from the left. Then I inserted a 13"x2.5" strip of orange and sewed it back together. The second cut was made 4" from the bottom. I used 2.5" width again by 18" for the white strip. After inserting the white strip, I made a third cut 13.5" from the left and inserted the tan strip that was 1.5" by 13".  I really like the effect and that the strips look like they are layered. It was necessary to square up the placemat and I gave it a finished size of 13" by 17.75".

Placemat back with free motion quilting
A trip to the store did not yield a matching brown solid.  After much consideration and sale versus the ability to use a 60% off coupon, I opted for a tan solid. This worked well for the back and also the binding. I used a new to me method of bringing one inch from the back to the front and folding over and stitching.  
For quilting, I used a meandering pattern with some loops to mimic a bumble bee's flight.

After finishing the placemats, I still had enough sunflower fabric left to make a tote bag for gifting.  I used a bottomweight brown for the front (with sunflowers attached), back and handles.  I opted to do french seams and no lining.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gift Bag for swim teacher

All three kids participated in a family swim lessons this summer.  Sometimes it's a little hectic with three very different swim levels and willingness to try new things, but generally it works.

We had done the same thing last year and made fish shaped gingerbread cookies to gift our instructor.  Making cookies is fun, but I didn't want to get into the whole cookie making production this week.

The kids each chose some of their favorite things to share with the teacher.  I considered using a gift bag, but got up early and made a little tote.

These tote bags are fun and easy to make.  I usually just look at what fabric I have, use sizing that makes sense for the remnant and add a coordinating fabric if necessary.  After piecing the front and back, I pin each part to batting and quilt a design on.  Then I sew the parts together, creating a lining as well without batting.  Making straps and putting it all together goes quickly.  The final step is to sew up the opening in the lining from turning.  It makes a nice gift too!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Luxury Camping Mats

A few weeks ago, the girls and I decided to practice sleeping out in our tent.  Whenever we have done this, it's always good practice to see what we might need or to answer questions about camping before we're out there.

I remembered that two of our mats lost air before the night was over, so I used one of our "older" mats that is a bit thinner. It was surprising how uncomfortable I was on it. So much so that I moved us all inside about 3am. 

New self inflating camping mat
My quest for a more comfortable camping mat began the next morning. After some research, I discovered a two part mat which had a layer of memory foam on top of a more typical camping mat. Both parts were enclosed in a microfiber top and nylon bottom cover. The more I considered the $200 mat, the less likely it seemed a real possibility. 

When I really understood all the parts, I looked around for one inch memory foam.  I found a King sized memory foam mattress topper which was 1.5" and was the perfect dimensions to be split into three mat sized pieces. Everyone could have a more comfortable mat and not be too expensive. 
1.5" Memory Foam Mattress Topper layered on top of mat

Instead of enveloping the mat parts, I figured a fitted sheet would hold the parts together fine.  We usually use fitted sheets, but because they are for bed mattresses, it isn't a tight fit. 

Tutorials for fitted crib sheets were pretty easy to find and one even had instructions on how to modify the pattern for other dimensions. 

Fortunately, I had a surplus of microfiber left over from my cloth diaper making days. I had enough for one purple one, a pieced blue one, and a pieced orange and purple one. I did need to purchase fabric for two more fitted sheets. 

The directions were perfect. I cut out the right sized squares at each corner and sewed the new edges together. This made a perfect corner for the layered mats. 

I had a bunch of 1/4" elastic and just sewed it to the unfinished edge all the way around with a three step zig zag. 

Some family members think these new luxury mats are even more comfortable than our beds!
Fitted Camping Sheet

3 step zig zag with 1/4" elastic

Memory Foam topped camping mat

Corners fit perfectly

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Heart Pillow Instructions

Heart pillows are just right to tuck under the arm after breast surgery or node surgery.  They can also be helpful for sleeping or in the car to soften the seat belt.  This instructions are intended to help others sew pillows for donation.

Fabrics:  I like to use a cotton on one side and a microfiber on the other. Cotton could be used on both.  Flannel or fleece cold be used too. Washable fabrics are best.  Pre-wash all fabrics. Fabric scraps lend themselves to this project.  A crazy quilt design could be done or just strips of fabric to make up the heart shape.

Also needed:
Heart pattern
Sewing machine
Coordinating thread
Hand sewing needle

Heart Pillow Instructions:
1. Cut out 2 hearts with pattern placed on fold.  One is for the front and one is for the back.  If piecing either heart, sew pieces together with a 1/4" seam allowance to make up a heart shape.
2.  With right sides together, pin front to back.

3.  Sew front to back with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving a small 2.5" opening on a straighter area of the heart.  (See images)  Beginning at opening, sew around.  Take corners slowly and make turns with needle in.  Finish at the opening and leave 2.5" open for stuffing.
4.  Clip all curves and inner corner at top of heart.

5.  Turn right sides out, carefully opening all seams
6.  Press 
7.  Fill pillow with Poly-Fil, put stuffing towards curved heart edges to fill out heart, fill center, then finally the lower tip.
8.  Pin and close opening by hand with a small blind stitch.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Heart Pillows for breast surgery patients

When reading the newsletter for my local breast cancer coalition, I saw they are in need of pillows to give away. These little pillows are great post surgery. They can be tucked under the arm to protect the breast or armpit after surgery. They can also be used to soften a seatbelt strap in the car.

I was given a small square shaped pillow after I had surgery and it was great. A heart shape was suggested for me to make and it is much cuter and I could see it hanging out on a bed or couch after it was used post surgery. 

If any locals could use a quick sewing project, I am happy to share the pattern!

I put together six pillows this morning, though I did run out of poly-fil before the sixth.  Quilting scraps worked great and gave some pillows personality.  I used microfiber for the backs. 
Stuffed Heart Pillows
Heart Pillow before stuffing