Thursday, April 9, 2009


Here's my new project. Celebration is a pattern designed by Marilyn Foreman. Marilyn is a talented designer and her company is "Quilt Moments". A customer and friend of mine, JoAnne, discovered this quilt on the Robert Kaufman website and told me about it. JoAnne loves this quilt because Marilyn used batiks with little geckos in it for the cover photo. I fell in love with it, too, and I now have the kit on my website.
I have a few of the blocks done. It's fun working with these yummy batiks. But then again, I never met a batik I didn't like! I will be adding Marilyn's complete collection of patterns on my website soon. They're all wonderful!

Frozen Mashed Potatoes

Did you know that you can freeze mashed potatoes? Maybe this is one of those things that everyone else knows, but it's news to me. I discovered this a few months ago and it's great! When I make mashed potatoes, I make a nice big batch. After dinner, I freeze the leftovers. I just put dollops of the potatoes on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer. When they are frozen, I put them in a freezer bag.
To reheat, just take out as many of the little frozen potato dollops as you want. This is great if you only want one or 2 servings. You could certainly do this is a microwave, but I usually put them in a small pot with just a tiny bit of water. Heat on low and just whip them up in the pot (I use a wooden spoon) as they defrost and warm. Add more water, just a little at a time, as needed. To me, they taste just like fresh.

If you want to do this with a large quantity of potatoes, try spreading them in a tray (not too thick). Then score lines back and forth through the potatoes to make little squares. When they are frozen, you can just snap them apart into squares to put in baggies. This might be a little quicker than making dollops.

These are cheaper and much tastier than purchased frozen prepared products.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Dozen Bags- March/April- Small tote bag

Time to finish the bag. You should have something that looks like the photo above. Take the piece and fold it so that the the 3 squares on the left meet with the 3 on the right. Sew them together and just let the 3 on the bottom dangle for now. Then fold the bottom 3 so that the meet with the bottom of the "circle". Sew around- do the one side, then the bottom 3 then the other side. This is where you'll be happy you started and stopped sewing about 1/4 inch from the beginning and end of a row. You'll have room to turn those bottom corners. Make sure you reinforce where you start and stop- especially on the bottom of the bag.

Then sew one line of stitching 1/2 inch from the edge all around the top opening of the bag.
For the handles, cut 4 inch wide strips by the length you want your handles. You probably want them to be somewhere between 30 and 40 inches long. My suggestion is that you just cut your strips by the width of the fabric and then adjust them when you go to attach them.

Fold in half, then open back up and fold the ends into the center fold. This gives you a strip that's 4 thichnesses of the fabric. I like this instead of the tube method because you don't have to turn the tube and because it's thicker and stronger. Sew a line right along the side of the strap to close it up. I suppose there are lots of ways to make the straps- this just seems like an easy method for a simple bag. Now attach them to the top where you like them. I did mine about half way between the center and the outsides. I sewed roughly one inch squares and then sewed an "X" in the middle of the square to reinforce the place where the straps attach.

Your bag should look like this.
Now it's time to clip. This is a good place for a favorite tv show or a hands-free phone call to a friend. Snip the seams right up to the stitching line, being VERY CAREFUL not to clip the stitched seam. Notice that this is the only time in this pattern that I have told you to be careful.

Snip away- all sides and all directions. It will look best if you do a lot of clipping. I clipped about 4-5 clips per inch. Clip the top opening, too. That's why we stitched the line around the top edge.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND RAG SNIPS for this. You can get away without them for a handbag but you'll have blisters on top of blisters if you try to snip a whole quilt with regular scissors. Rag Snips are amazing. My son used my rag snips to cut automobile carpet. I got tired of everyone borrowing mine so I got my sons both their own pair one year for Christmas. I carry them on my website but as far as I know, different brands all work well.

All snipped. Now comes the "magic". Throw in in the washer and dryer a couple of times. I like to throw in a pair of jeans to rough it up a bit. Keep checking your lint catcher. As you can imagine- it generates a lot of lint.

Here's a close up of the clipped edges after washing and drying twice. Isn't it cute how they fluff up? The inside of the bag has nice clean seams. The bag is actually reversible, but I'm not sure why you'd go to all the trouble of fraying the edges and not show them.

For this technique you can adjust the size of the squares. Make the inside square an inch smaller than the outside squares. Some people use 3 flannel squares the same size and fray them all. That's up to you. Just play around with it. It's pretty hard to mess up.

I'll be doing a second frayed edge bag and I'll show you some quilts with this method... probably next week.

If you make one of these bags (or any of the other ones) I'd love to see a picture!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A dozen Bags March/April

Now that you have 27 little flannel "sandwiches" made, lay them out in 4 rows- 8,8,8,and 3 sandwiches. The little row of 3 will be the bottom of the bag.
Take half inch seams when you sew them together. You'll either just catch or just miss the little 4 inch piece of batting. Either way- it's fine. Try to come within a 1/4 inch or so of the beginning and end of the stitched rows and back stitch or reinforce the beginning and end of the stitching lines.
Now sew the rows together. Open the seams up and use pins to help you keep them open while you stitch. Again- reinforce the beginning and end of the long rows and come to within about 1/4 inch of the beginning and end.
When you stitch the last little row on, attach them to the 5th, 6th and 7th squares in the row above.
Here's a close up noting that I didn't sew all the way to the end of the row.

Tomorrow we'll make it look like a bag and put on some handles. Simple so far? Remember- it's RAG quilting. Don't stress over the details. Just keep sewing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Dozen Bags- March (early April)

I'll bet you thought I forgot about the March bag! It was a busy month (understatement) and I got a little behind. Silly Me-- I didn't think anyone would notice. Then I got this sweet message from Sarah in Houston asking me if she missed it. So this is for Sarah, and everyone else out there who would like to make a new bag. For those of you who are new to this blog, I started a series in January called "A Dozen Bags". My plan is to give you one free pattern for a bag every month.

This bag is kind of wintery, but it hasn't felt much like spring around here until today. I'll have it ready for next Fall. :-)

If you've ever made a rag quilt, this will be easy for you. If this is your first frayed edge (rag) project, you'll soon be hooked. If you've done this before, no need to follow my instructions exactly. Make it whatever size you like.

You'll need some flannel scraps. I think it looks best with lots of different fabrics but it's up to you. You'll need (54) 5 inch squares of flannel and (27) 4 inch squares of scrap batting. I like Warm and Natural but you can use any batting scraps- or you could use flannel or a cut up blanket or old sweatshirt. This is a great recyle project.

Make 27 little sandwiches. The flannel pieces (right sides out) are the bread and the batting scraps are the meat. Just one piece of meat per sandwich here or your bag will weigh a ton.
Sew X's on the sandwiches. I like to chain piece them.... going one direction... cut them apart.... then chain the other direction. When you stitch from corner to corner, start and end about 1/4 inch from the corner. Try to be as accurate as you can, but don't stress about it if you sew too far. This isn't an heirloom quilt- it's rag quilting.
You'll notice that my little sandwich isn't perfect. Not a problem. This is called "rag quilting" for a reason.

Make your little sandwiches and I'll tell you how to put them together tomorrow. When we're done, this will be a small tote- style bag. After that, we'll make another one that is smaller with a closure. That will be the April bag. (See my plan to get caught up with my bags???).

When we're done with the 2 bags, I'll show you how to make rag quilts and I'll show you the technique for making them double sided.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Giveaway

The April giveaway is a Little Box of Quilter's Desserts. This is a box full of cards. Each card has a dessert recipe and a quilt block. Some examples are: Cherry Basket block with Cherry Baby Cakes; Maple Star block with Creamy Maple Apple Pie; and Cups and Saucers block with Coffee n' Cream Bars. What great ideas if you have to take a treat to a quilt guild meeting or any gathering of quilters. You could make the treat and use the block for a block exchange. Lots of possibilities with this.

For those of you who are new to this blog, here's how it works. Just reply that you would like to be entered in the drawing. If you don't like to post on blogs, send me an email to On May 1st, I'll choose a winner at random and then post a new giveaway for May. Join the fun!

Good Luck!

April Tip- Pizza Box Block Organizers

Sometimes it's the simplest things, isn't it? I've been storing projects in pizza boxes for years. Recently, somebody saw them and thought it was the best thing since sliced.... well..... sliced pizza! I guess I never thought it was much of a tip, but she surely did so I thought I'd share it here. I get clean, new pizza boxes from a nice pizza shop owner. Sometimes they give them to you for free and sometimes they ask you to pay for them, which is never much. I line the bottom of the box with batting (I like warm and natural for this rather than polyester batting) or with flannel. No need to get fancy- just lay it in there. When it's lined, your pieces don't slide all over the place. when cutting, pile up your block pieces in the pizza box the way they will be assembled. Take 2 piles and sew and iron them- them put them back where they belong in the "puzzle". Keep going this way and keep putting them back in the box the way they belong in the block. It keeps me organized, they travel well, store well, and I make less mistakes with complicated blocks. Be sure to go big with the boxes. Even if you're doing 8 or 10 inch blocks, it's good to have a 16 inch box. If there are a lot of pieces in the block, it takes a lot of space to lay them out before they are stitched.

The Winner IS.......

The winner of the March Giveaway is DONNA, the QUILTING GRANDMA! Donna- send me a private email to with your mailing address and the pattern and fat quarters will be on their way! Congrats!!!

Now I need to find something for the April giveaway.... let's see, now.......