28 September 2011

Autumn Table Runner

My dinner table received some autumn love today. I took one of my favorite prints from Joel Dewberry's Aviary 2 collection (saffron damask) and transformed it into a simple table runner. 

  • 3/4 yard of cotton fabric
  • One large scrap of batting (at least 12 x 36") 
To get started, cut two 12 x 36" rectangles from the 3/4 yard of fabric for the front and back pieces of the table runner.
Turn over one fabric rectangle and line it up within grid lines on your cutting mat. Count six inches away from each corner (in both directions) and lay the ruler down to connect those points. Draw a line along the ruler's edge. Repeat at all corners on both fabric rectangles.

Walk the {Quilted} Line

Dear walking foot: 
Where have you been all my life? And why am I just now learning to use one?  Crazy.
Do you know the difference between a regular presser foot and a walking foot? All I knew for the longest time was that if you wanted to quilt straight lines (and have them look good), you would need the latter.
 So what makes a walking foot so special? Feed dogs.
Because of a quilt's added thickness, one set of feed dogs is not enough. A walking foot adds an extra set to sit on top of the quilt, ensuring that all the quilt's layers are fed through the machine evenly. Otherwise, you get bunching.
I'm going to use my walking foot to quilt an autumn table runner. For this project, I want to do a bunch of random lines so I'm using Therm O Web's PeelnStick Ruler Tape to help me mark 1/2" pairs of lines.
Now, normally if I want to quilt straight lines I don't need to mark the lines--I use the existing seams or quilted lines as a guide for my walking foot. In this case, however, I wanted them to be a bit random, so I just laid the ruler tape down wherever I wanted and traced along it on both sides. (The whole point of marking these lines was to show me where to guide the needle and keep the lines perfectly straight.)
I started out by centering the table runner within grid lines on my cutting mat. Then, I laid the ruler tape down to split the center.
Using Crayola washable markers (a wonderful tip I learned from Lu), I drew along the ruler on both sides.
Then I added another set of lines a few inches away on both sides...
I still wanted more lines, so I rotated the table runner so that its bottom side lined up along a diagonal line on the cutting mat. I added more lines about 3 1/2" apart all across the table runner. There is no rule about where you should lay the ruler tape! Just wherever you want!
Once I was satisfied with the amount of lines, I started sewing. I used both hands to help guide the fabric and stay on the lines.
Next, I washed the table runner to remove all traces of the washable marker.  After it dried, I ironed it with starch. Ta da!

25 September 2011

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Lella Boutique: Dinner in a Pumpkin
Oh my heck. There is nothing cooler than eating dinner out of a pumpkin. I started doing this last year and have been excited about it ever since. Yes, I have been haunting the grocery stores just about every day in hopes that my precious pumpkins would arrive soon.  At long last! I am declaring it my family's tradition forevermore. (Thanks for the recipe, Mom!)
To make it, you will need:
  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 1 box Zatarain's jambalaya rice mix (mild) 
  •  2 1/2 C. water 
  •  2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 kielbasa or other comparable sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1b. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ C. celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced 
First, set the oven to 350°F. Clean out the pumpkin and place it in the heating oven. 
*Note: When cutting a lid for the pumpkin, make sure you carve a big enough hole that you will be able to scoop dinner out!

Lella Boutique: Dinner in a Pumpkin

24 September 2011

My Favorite {Perfect} Skinny Binding Method

This skinny binding method is simply the best! It is great for quilts, table runners, place mats, and so on. To make it "skinny," we'll cut 2 1/2" strips across the width of the fabric (WOF).  How many strips?  That depends entirely on the perimeter of your project.
Remember learning how to calculate the perimeter in elementary school? We'll need to calculate this to know just how many strips of fabric we'll need for the binding. In this example, a table runner's sides measure 20 x 30".  The perimeter (20 + 30 + 20 + 30) is 100".  So we will need at least 100" for this project's binding . 
The standard WOF varies anywhere between 40-45".  (So let's assume 40", just to be safe.) Two strips (40" + 40" = 80") is not long enough, which means that I will need three (40" + 40" + 40" = 120").  I know some people totally tune out when they see math being used, but it's not too bad! Once you know how many strips, go ahead and cut them on your cutting mat.
Now the strips need to be sewn end-to-end to make one giant strip. To minimize the bulk of the binding later, I connect the strips at a bias. (This means "at a diagonal.") I do this by laying two ends together at a ninety-degree angle, right sides together. Next, I draw a diagonal line and pin in place, as demonstrated below.

16 September 2011

Old New Table

Surprise, surprise. I have distressed another piece of furniture in my house.
A couple of weekends ago, I got reeeeeally sick of looking at my dining room table. My husband bought it last year when we first moved to Florida. I was busy with a [six-week old] Olive and thereby entrusted him with the task of getting us some cheap furniture a la Craigslist. Let's just say this table was a practical choice, fit in the budget, and had a sweet spirit. You may remember it?
Tile on a table.  So precious. No, the legs weren't blue before.  I just forgot to take the picture until after they were already painted. (I get too excited about these projects and just dive in without thinking about these things.) 
RIP, old table. You had a good life.  You served well as the background for many of my sewing tutorials. Ta ta.
If you are interested in what I did to it, pull up a chair.

  1. I painted over the whole table with [white] bonding primer.
  2. I added two coats of dark brown latex paint.  I let it dry, and then globbed bits of petroleum jelly here and there (mostly in cracks, crevices, and on edges).
  3. I painted on two coats of the bluish-gray (also latex) paint.  Oh and I used a hand brush, not a roller. As I added the bluish-gray, I just kept painting without re-dipping the brush too often to give it a dry-brushed look in certain areas. Once the final blue layer dried (overnight), I wiped over the whole table with paper towels and the still-wet petroleum jelly came off to reveal more brown. 
  4. I thought I was done but then decided to add another layer of "dirt" with a black-tinted glaze
  5. The paint was a little "sticky" days afterwards so I added a thin coat of polyurethane wax (furniture paste wax) and it solved that problem.
Now I just need to figure out what to do to those chairs? Reupholster the existing? Find replacements?

14 September 2011

Dear October,

Are you coming?!?!
I've had enough of this Florida humidity. Blek! 
I made a bouquet for you. It was pretty dang easy and it looks great in my kitchen entryway. I started out with a simple bouquet of twigs like this:
I added some dainty berry twigs in orange...
...and some in white!
Then, I threw everything into a [painted] spaghetti jar and got this wild looking arrangement.
So simple but very stimulating to look at.  I love seeing the bright bits of orange every time I walk by.  

Don't keep me waiting, October!