Sunday, November 29, 2015

Free December Calendar

December would have to be my favorite month. It's a time full of Christmas preparations, end of year school functions, catch ups with family and friends and lots of good food :)
It's also time for my last free calendar for 2015:

This months featured pattern is Guiding Angel, which is a sweet redwork stitchery pattern surrounded by a lovely braided border.
I think redwork is perfect for Christmas projects and I've used it in most of my Christmas designs. This stitchery reminds me of the angel my grandparents had when I was a little girl. Christmas was such a big occasion in their house and I have so many wonderful memories of big home cooked dinners, shared at a crowded table full of family and friends.
From today until the end of December, PDF files of my Guiding Angel stitchery design are available at the discounted price of $3.95, in my shop HERE.
To download your free December calendar, just visit HERE.
I will be continuing my free monthly calendars next year and combining them with a new monthly venture I have planned for the blog. I've been busy working on these, over the last few weeks and I'll share more, later :)
I hope December is a wonderful month for you and your family, as you share in the joy and wonder of the festive season.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fruit Cake Muffins

When people think of my Pop, they probably remember two things; his beautiful garden and his fruit cake. Of course, there was so much more to this wonderful man, but I can't recall a time when there wasn't a plate of moist fruit cake sitting in the middle of his kitchen table.
After he passed, I began cooking fruit cakes every Christmas, as it made me feel connected to him. I've used various recipes over the years, but Pops recipes always give the best results and I've adapted one of them for these delicious, Fruit Cake Muffins:

Pop cooked fruit cakes, all year round; there was no waiting until Christmas. In his later years, he would order cakes from a small country bakery about 90 minutes away from home (it was well worth the drive, I assure you). If visitors commented on how nice the cake was, they went home with one from his pantry and if he went visiting, he always brought a plate of fruit cake to share and a cake for them to store in their cupboard.
These muffins are quick and easy to make and everything is prepared in one saucepan so the clean up is minimal. They are perfect if you don't have the time to bake a traditional Christmas Cake or if you feel like fruit cake, at anytime during the year, without soaking fruit and waiting hours for a cake to slow cook.
They are super moist and full of the traditional, delicious flavours. You can adapt them to suit your own tastes, by adding nuts or glace fruits etc. but I have kept them close to Pops original recipe and we love them just as they are.
If you have the time, you could decorate them with ready rolled icing or a lovely sugar glaze but I think a generous sprinkling of icing sugar is just enough. I cooked these using muffin wrappers but pretty cupcake liners work just as well.
Make a batch for your Christmas table or make them to give as gifts, to family and friends:
To download the recipe for my Fruit Cake Muffins, just visit HERE or right click on the image below and save to your files.
I have already baked this years traditional Christmas Cake, using Pops recipe and I cant wait to cut into this, during December:
Perfection ♥♥♥  It looks and smells amazing, I'm sure my Pop would be proud. :) Only one thing would make it even better: that he was here to share it ♥
Happy baking :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chatleaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Block 56

This weeks gorgeous block is Bird Of Paradise. I have had a few requests to include more paper pieced blocks in our quilts, so I thought this one would be perfect, Its a great little block to try if your new to paper piecing or you haven't tried yet.
Its a quick and easy nine patch design and its only the side units which require paper piecing. They are quite basic but if you need a little help, I have my paper piecing tutorials HERE and HERE, which explain how its done.
If you're not a fan of paper piecing, I have designed a similar block and I think, with the right fabric placement, this block will be lovely as well :)
Both options are included in this weeks free pattern and you can download your copy HERE.
I hope you have fun sewing this one, which ever option you choose.
Happy sewing :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chatelaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Block 55

This weeks sweet and simple block is Spinning Pinwheel. This is such a gorgeous block, so choose some pretty fabrics for this one and enjoy its simplicity.
I love blocks which give the illusion of movement and this one is an absolute delight. Its quick and easy to piece, with some HST's, squares and rectangles and I think it will look lovely in our quilts.
It would also make a great block for a babies quilt, so make sure you keep this one in your files, to play around with on future projects.
To download this weeks free pattern, just visit HERE.
Happy sewing :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Greg Mystery CAL Parts 4 and 5:1

I thought I would do an update on my Greg Mystery CAL progress. The fourth installment introduced IAN and there were two options to choose from. I chose option 1:
Whilst crocheting, I did regret my choice as IAN was quite challenging. He may look harmless but I still haven't mastered the invisible join (I can still see mine) and it was my first attempt at crocheting in the LBV (and I'm hoping its my last).
But my relationship with IAN survived and all eight blocks were crocheted, albeit with a few swear words and quite a bit of unraveling:
I was happy with them in the end and I was pleased I challenged myself and chose the harder option.
Part 5 was released last Monday and this installment introduced BOB, which will be completed over several parts. Here's my BOB squares at the end of the first part:
These were so much fun to crochet and I love BOB so far :)
Part two came out this morning and I've had a quick look at the pattern and its beautiful. I'm hoping to get back to the hook sometime today.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thursday Tip #17

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
Sometimes is necessary to use templates as part of the construction of a block, as we saw in yesterdays block. With some simple preparation, its an easy process and quite fun to do. Here are a few of my tips for preparing and using templates:

  • Your pattern should include a template sheet, so after printing, roughly cut out each template about 1/4" from the solid outside seam line.
  • Using a glue stick, adhere the templates to a piece of thick cardboard or template plastic. Australian ladies, the cardboard from Spotlights fat quarters is perfect, plus I keep the clear display plastic that they use on most items we buy in boxes, these days.
  • Once the template is dry, using a paper cutter or Stanley knife and a ruler, cut around each of the templates, ensuring you have lovely straight edges.
  • I keep all of my templates together in a zip lock bag, until I'm ready to use each one. They tend to get lost in fabric etc. when I'm busy cutting, so I find I know where they are if I keep them stored together :)
  • I find its a lot easier to cut around the templates, if I'm using my 360 degree cutting mat. This alleviates the need to lift the fabric and template as I'm cutting around the shape. Its not a necessary tool, but its a handy one.
  • To prevent the template from slipping or moving as you cut, put a piece of double sided tape on the back of the templates. This will temporarily adhere the template to the fabric, so there is no movement.
  • When your ready to cut, ensure your cutting square is lined up with the very edge of the template so you cut the fabric, not the template.
  • If you do accidentally cut the template, its best to remake a new template to maintain accurately cut pieces, every cut.
  • Pay particular attention to any notches or markings on the templates, these assist in matching pieces and achieving an accurate finish, when you piece them together.
I hope these tips help you to prepare and use your templates more efficiently. They really are easy to work with and they allow you to sew some very beautiful patchwork :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chatelaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Block 54

This weeks gorgeous block is Pink Dogwood. This is such a stunning block but its not simply pieced, so this week I'm giving you a few options, which are all included in the free pattern.
Your options are; paper piecing the entire block or do as I have done and paper piece the side units and piece the rest. Or you could choose to piece the block, using a mix of cut pieces and the included templates (tomorrows tip is all about templates, if you need any hints) or if neither of these options appeal to you, I have also designed another similar, pieced version:
This would be the easiest option but it depends on your skill level and your love/hate relationship with paper piecing or templates. Choose the option that yields the best result for you.
To download this weeks free pattern, just visit HERE.
Remember to ensure your printer resize settings are set to "none" or "actual size" in the page scaling pane to ensure accuracy of printing all templates etc.
I hope you love this block as much as I do. I think its a lovely addition to our quilts.
And lastly, here's the collage for Blocks 46-54:
Happy sewing :)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thursday Tip #16

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
Binding a quilt marks the final stage of its wonderful journey. Its also your first opportunity to snuggle under its bulk, as you slip stitch the back of binding in to place, so enjoy this process and relish in your quilts beauty, warmth and comfort.
Here are some of my tips for binding your quilts:
  • Prepare your quilt first. Make sure all pins or hand basting stitches have been removed. Sew around the raw edge of the quilt a scant 1/8". This keeps everything lovely and flat and ready for the binding. (Its not necessary to do this if you have free motion quilted over the raw edges.) Trim the excess wadding and backing level with the quilt top.
  • Cut your binding strips, at the required width, either across the width of the fabric or on the bias, I always cut mine across the width. Most strips are cut at 2 1/2" across the fabric width but lately I have been making mine a little smaller and it gives a neater finish. I prefer using 2 1/4" strips on large quilts and 2" strips for smaller projects, like coasters or place mats. Have a play around and see what size suits you best.
  • To join the strips, with right sides together, place one end of two strips perpendicular to each other to form a "L". Sew across the diagonal and trim away the excess. Repeat for each strip until all the strips are joined. Press the seams open.
  • With wrong sides together, fold the strip length ways and press well. Trim one end on a 45 degree angle (this will be the beginning of your binding). I usually fold it over by bringing the top corner, with the two raw edges, in to the fold and then press to mark a crease and then trim. Use a ruler for this step if you prefer.
  • If you have one, use your walking foot to sew on bindings, it helps to feed everything through your machine nice and evenly.
  • Lay the binding, on the right side of the quilt top, aligning the raw edges, in the centre of one side of the quilt. Leave a 6-8" tail at the beginning, you will make your final join here later, and pin into position. 
  • Sew the binding to the quilt top, stopping at the first corner 1/4" before the raw edge. With needle down, pivot the quilt and continue sewing into the corner (as shown in the above picture). This will give you a lovely crisp mitre. Cut the thread.
  • To start the next side, lift the binding up and then down along the quilt edge and pin the mitred corner to secure. Continue sewing in this manner around all four corners. Stop sewing about 6-8" away from where you began binding.
  • To make the final join, trim off any excess so you now have a 6-8" tail at both raw ends of the binding. Open up the end piece of the binding and slip the beginning tail inside, so the folded edge sits in the crease. Mark a line, using the 45 degree angle of the beginning tail as a guide. Cut 1/2" from this line, this allows for the two seam allowances. With right sides together and both bindings open, sew them together to complete your final join. Close and press the binding and continue sewing the binding to the quilt top.
  • Choose a thread colour that matches your binding and cut lengths of around 18". Double thread your needle. Turn the bindings to the back of the quilt and use some wonder clips or hair clips to keep your bindings in place. Slip stitch the bindings to secure. I make a couple of extra stitches in the mitred corners, to ensure that the mitre is closed securely. 
This is the way I bind my quilts. There are tutorials around for machine binding both the back and front of the binding but its something I haven't tried, as I don't think the final result is as neat. I prefer to pop on a movie, snuggle under the quilt and sew the back of the bindings down by hand. Its relaxing and it means the end of my quilts journey :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Chatelaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Block 53

This week, I have a quick, easy and super fun block for you. This is London Roads and your going to love sewing this one. Its a clever geometric design and you can change the whole effect by playing around with the colour placements.
Here's a few options I came up with, just to give you an idea:

I hope you have fun playing around with this block's possibilities. I think any of these versions will look lovely in our sampler quilts.
To download this weeks free block pattern, just visit HERE.
Happy sewing :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

So Pretty Christmas Star

There are so many lovely free Christmas patterns available, from wonderful, generous designers. I found one the other day, that I thought I would share with you, in case your looking for something sweet to make as a gift or to make for yourself:
This is the "So Pretty Christmas Star" by Traceyjay Quilts and you can download the free paper pieced pattern  HERE, in her Craftsy shop. It goes together quite quickly and easily and its a great little weekend project.
I used Moda's 3 Sisters Printemps fabric again, because I just love these fabrics for Christmas projects. I did reduce the pattern as I wanted to use my Jelly Roll Strips and I also wanted a little mat to sit my Christmas candles on, so my quilt finishes at around 12", instead of 15".
If your a paper piecing fan like me then you are going to love this pattern but even if your new to PP, its quite easy to put together. Despite my efforts to keep everything flat, with all those intersecting seams, I still managed to have a little "bump" in the centre, but its all good, the candles will hide it :)
I quilted mine with a little free motion loopy pattern and I was quite happy with how it turned out. I'm looking forward to decorating the house this Christmas and using my new little quilt, to showcase our Christmas candle collection.
Happy sewing :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Corn Uglies

The other day, a girlfriend gave me a recipe she wanted me to try and while it was quick and easy to prepare, with minimum clean up, to me it sounded a little bland. I crave savory food, all the time, and I like mine bursting with flavour and full of lovely textures, so I decided to adapt her recipe and make my own Corn Uglies:
They are a different take on the traditional savory scone. It's a matter of substituting the butter and milk for a tin of creamed corn and then adding some of your favorite ingredients. I have made a couple of batches now and they are becoming a family favorite.
You only need a few basic ingredients and your ready to bake. I added some crispy bacon but diced ham would work just as well. I also added some sauteed leeks, because they are milder in flavour than onions, which can sometimes be over powering in baked goods. Use your favorite grated cheese, or use a combination to add that extra flavour. You could also add some diced capsicum or celery, or some olives or chilli; have a play around with different combinations.
They are perfect to pop in the lunchbox or the picnic basket or serve them up for afternoon tea with a little butter, while they are still warm :)  I'm not a fan of freezing cakes or biscuits, so I can't comment, but this recipe might be useful if you prefer to freeze batches and keep snacks or lunchboxes items on hand.
If you want to give these Corn Uglies a try, you can download a PDF file of the recipe HERE or right click on the image below and save to your computer files.
I hope your family love these little savories as much as my family does.
Happy baking!
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