The Force is Strong with This One

For us this is the season of friends having babies. This project was for a couple having their first baby – a girl. The dad is super into Star Wars, so we figured a Star Wars blanket was a must. Sean went to the fabric store to help me pick out fabric. We ended up with the great fabrics below – blocky Star Wars and an adorable hot pink and white polka dot.

starwars-blanket1To tie the two sides together more we decided to add contrasting fabric hearts to both sides of the blanket. I’d neve done appliqué work before so I was really hoping it’d turn out. I put a fusible interfacing on the back of the heart, pinned it to the corner, and then sewed it on with a zig-zag stitch.

starwars-blanket2 It turned out pretty well! This is the back of the appliqué that ended up inside of the blanket. I had a couple glitches that I had to figure out as I did it, but it ended up coming together really well.

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Star Wars heart on the pink side.

starwars-blanket4 Pink heart on Star Wars side.

starwars-blanket5 Here are a couple pictures of the finished receiving blanket folded up. Finished size is 41.5 by 42.25 inches, so it’s not quite square.

starwars-blanket6Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

A quilt to keep you warm on an ice brrrgh, matey!

Well, it’s been way too long since we posted anything here. We’re going to try to update this more often, but currently aren’t making any promises on how often that will be.

Anyway, I had enough scraps leftover after making a baby quilt for a friend that I decided to make a second quilt! I found a great tutorial for a chevron quilt using rectangle pieces (instead of triangles) at Crazy Mom Quilts. I adjusted it a bit to make a baby size quilt.

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First I cut out a ton of rectangles and played around with them until I found an arrangement I liked.

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Piecing the quilt took a lot longer than anticipated… several months. Mostly because I kept on working on other things. I started in August… and finally finished piecing it by the end of  December.

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I decided to back the quilt with a solid brown and quilt it with green thread. Yes, every mistake is pretty obvious with contrasting thread, but I like the look.

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Yesterday I finished making the binding and attached it to the quilt.

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Today I finished machine binding the quilt. Again, I checked out a tutorial from Crazy Mom Quilts. Binding a quilt intimidates me, especially tacking down the binding by hand (so much time involved!) so machine binding made sense. I think it went pretty well for my first time!

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So here’s the finished quilt! It measures roughly 37x 42 inches.

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It’s a pirate-y quilt, matey!

When we heard that some of our friends were having a boy this past spring I knew the quilt I made them would not be your average “cute baby boy” type quilt. They love all things nerdy/geeky and their quilt would have to reflect that. I ended up finding an adorable pirate fabric set by Riley Blake that I just knew they’d love.

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I used a strip quilting pattern I’ve used before. I love it because it goes together really quickly.

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I played around with the “map” block placement a lot. I wanted it to be multi-directional, and have the land and sea sections balanced so there wasn’t too much land or sea in any one section of the quilt.

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I quilted it diagonally across the map blocks (x marks the spot!).

Pirate-quilt-Wil-5I finished it without a binding.

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Here’s the finished quilt! As you can see, I created a border using the backing fabric. It ties the two together rather nicely, I think.

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The mother of this family just started a blog called raising little dragonslayers where she writes “mostly about the things that have the majority of my time, attention, and interest: parenting my two kids, general geekery, and the relationship between the two.” Check it out!

Also check out the chevron pirate quilt I made from the fabric I had leftover from making this quilt!

Elmer the Orca

Sorry for the length of time between posts. With one thing and another we’ve had some projects in the works but hadn’t finished anything until now.

So, without further ado, I introduce you to Elmer the Orca! He’s one of the cubist animals that I came up with after creating Ari.

whale_backElmer says “hi!”

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He’s comfortable in the snowy arctic with nothing but white all around him…

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or in the tropics with the deep blue beneath him.
whale_lightHe especially loves to play in large waves!

 

Birthday Cake (decorating)

One of my family’s birthday traditions is decorating a cake for the birthday person. Growing up mom would let us pick out the shape and design we wanted for our cake and then she would decorate it for us. As we got older we helped her make and decorate our birthday cake. Everything I know about cake decorating I learned from my mom. This year I made my cake by myself.

Starting out, I frosted the sides and top edges of the cake with homemade white buttercream frosting.

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Then I colored a portion of the frosting that I’d put aside sky blue. I dropped the blue frosting on top of the cake and blended it into the white frosting with a knife.

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I decided to do the writing next (usually my mom and I put the writing on last when we make cakes together, but I decided to put it on at this point so I’d know how much space I needed/had left over for the rest of the cake design). Piping in writing is challenging! Before I piped the writing in on the cake I practiced on a piece of parchment paper so I had an idea of how large to make the writing and what sort of letter spacing I would need.

cake_creativelyus_3 I forgot to take a picture of just the tree structure… so here ya go, two steps in one… I mixed some coco powder in to a portion of the buttercream frosting to make a rich brown frosting then used a star tip to create bark for my tree. Next I put two different buttercream icing greens (one a bit more yellow-green, the other more blue-green) together in the icing bag with a leaf tip so I’d get variegated leaves. I piped on leaves wherever I thought the tree needed some leaves. I could have stopped there, but mom gave me a few new tips for my birthday so I decided to use more of them and add some flowers to the tree.

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Orange is my favorite color… so, orangey-peach flowers! Next I added yellow centers to the flowers.

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cake_creativelyus_6 cake_creativelyus_7And here’s a picture of the finished cake! I am very happy with how it looks. It tasted good too!

 

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I made homemade vanilla extract for my mom, mother-in-law, and myself for Christmas this year. I started it in October since it needs at least two months to age. It takes:

Cheap vodka

Vanilla beans (I used Madagascar vanilla beans) – 3 bean pods per 8 oz of vodka

Clean, sterile bottle(s)

VanillaExtract_1_creativelyus VanillaExtract_2_creativelyus I sliced the vanilla bean pods in half lengthwise then dropped them into the clean bottle.

VanillaExtract_3_creativelyus Next, I poured the vodka in over the vanilla beans. Once that was done I sealed the bottles and let them sit on a shelf in a cool, dark area. About once a week I’d shake the bottles so the vanilla and vodka would mix. Two months later…VanillaExtract_4_creativelyusgorgeous vanilla extract ready for gifting! Simple, inexpensive, and a fun gift!
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Christmas Tree Topper

The first Christmas after we were married we got all done decorating the tree and discovered we didn’t have a topper. A quick run to the corner drug store fixed that with a $1 gold glitter snowflake/star/thing. It wasn’t amazing, but it worked.
This year I decided we needed to actually have a respectable tree topper, so I sewed an angel tree topper. My mom gave me the pattern for the angel they have on top of their tree. It took a lot longer and was a lot harder to make than I was anticipating! Part of that was the fact that I tried to cut a few corners to “speed things up” and, ya know, the way the pattern said to do it might have been right…
So many ruffles! So much gathering! All this took forever!
Princess Leia hair!
I’m probably most proud of the wings. I didn’t like the quilting design on the original pattern so I created a design of my own. For inspiration I looked at quilting patterns online, Maori designs, and butterfly wings. From those, I drew a pattern (freehand!) for one wing and then just mirror imaged it for the other wing.
I decided not to sew a face on the angel because if faces go wrong, they look horrible, and at best they’re staring down at you from atop the tree, which is kinda creepy in my opinion.
I think it looks pretty awesome on top of our Christmas tree! It’s definitely a huge improvement over our $1 tree topper.

Cranberry Salsa

Tonight I made cranberry salsa. We’d purchased it before (and loved it!) when visiting some friends of ours and hadn’t found any since. It’s definitely a sweet salsa, but it has a bit of a kick! It’s a fun variation on salsa and more traditional cranberry sides served this time of year. I compared a few recipes that I found online and decided to just wing it (and leave out the suggested cilantro since I really, really can’t stand the taste of cilantro).

Cranberry Salsa:

One bag of fresh cranberries

Juice from one lime

Orange rind, about a teaspoon plus a bit

Jalapeños, about two Tablespoons

Three green onions, finely chopped

1/3 cup sugar

Dash of salt

Add all ingredients to mixer. Pulse until salsa reaches desired texture. Refrigerate salsa if not eating immediately (some recipes suggest refrigerating overnight before serving). Enjoy!

Ari the Lion

This year, when Sean and I put together shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, I decided to sew a stuffed animal to include in one of the shoeboxes. It needed to be small, simple, durable, and cute. After sketching out some concepts, I came up with the idea for a cubist lion – and Ari the Lion was created.

Ari is a very friendly little guy.

He loves cuddling up on the bed.

He loves being held.

Ari prowling in his “natural habitat.” He looks fierce, but…

he sometimes gets stuck when he’s exploring and needs rescued.

Ari loves playing with his tennis ball! He can’t wait to meet his kid through Operation Christmas Child.

Literary Pumpkin

I carved my pumpkin this week! I don’t really get into the whole Halloween thing, but I do love carving pumpkins. I also love children’s books (especially artistic ones) so I decided to combine the two. Suzy Lee is my favorite wordless book author/illustrator and so I decided to use the cover for Shadow on my pumpkin. My grandpa gave me a woodcarving set way back when and the tools work great for carving pumpkins!