Thursday, February 27, 2014

FREE Printable March Calendar

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Just in the nick of time, it's your March calendar page. For those who aren't familiar with them, they print out 4x6 inches and you can print them yourself, or you can upload them to your favorite photo processing center. You can pick yours up on the freebie page of my website HERE.

Don't forget to sign up for my VIP Club! I have lots of fun freebies and tutorials planned for 2014 and you don't want to miss any of them. Just look for the VIP image in the upper portion of my sidebar. 

Images on the calendar are from "Country Living Clipart" collection with is available at my Etsy Shop.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Project 365 - Week 8

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Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 50 - I was so excited about our heatwave (we hit 50 degrees) that I bought some lemons and made some fresh brewed iced tea.

Day 51 - The last of my lilies have opened up. They are so very pretty.

Day 52 - Dropped off my son's cat at his new home today. He's going to love it there and as you can see, he already found a new friend!

Day 53 - We went to a new restaurant with my sis and her husband today. As you can see, Deb and I really enjoyed our Jamaican Cowboys! That's a rum drink, in case you are wondering.

Day 54 - It doesn't happen often, but this day, I just didn't have any creative energy. The bare, white table, with the exception of Punkie's bowl, says it all. But not to worry, I'm back at it now!

Day 55 - My family knows my love of animals and these two items were gifts. They are intended to go out in the yard, but I really like them where they are.

Day 56 -  One of my favorite pictures is actually a calendar page. I have found that old calendars often make the best wall art!

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sewing Tip - Try New Things, A Lot!

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Try something new. About once or twice a month, try a new technique or a new product. This is something I have been doing for the past year. I have since learned so many new things, and have found some great products that wowed me, as well as some that I will never use again. But I'm glad I tried them all!

One of the things I tried recently was to really experiment with color. I went to the fabric store one day and bought about twenty yards of brightly colored fabrics, then came home and started using them! I used to stay in my blue/green comfort zone, until I found out how fun it was to use bright yellows, oranges, and lime greens. Now my fabric wall has about every color imaginable!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Project 365 - Week 7

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 43 - An evening glass of wine from my favorite glass. I bought it when I went wine tasting with Elyse, Mike, and Heidi. It always reminds me of that fun time when we visited Elyse and Mike in Delaware.

Day 44 - Beautiful flowers from my awesome husband. It's the same flower combination (lilies and roses) that we had at our private and secret wedding, which happens to be my favorites. I can't wait until the rest of the lilies open up!

Day 45 - Worked at the clinic today to fill in for a co-worker after a three month absence. It was actually nice to be back with the crew. I've missed them. One of them left me a note on the M&M dispenser because she knew that's where I'd be sure to see it.

Day 46 - Got an early start in the day when we headed to Lake Michigan to check out the shelf ice. The Lake sure looks different in the winter! For more great pictures of our little excursion, click HERE.

Day 47 - Is anyone else watching The Walking Dead? We've been watching it since the first season. Totally addictive!

Day 48 - Yes, another six inches a few days back. Every time I took Bubba out, I had to clean off a bunch of snow because it was coming down so hard.

Day 49 -  As much as I love my fall and winter potpourri, I'm so looking forward to getting out my summer blends.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sewing Tip - Test Fabrics

Keep a supply of testing fabrics ready for use before each project. If you do a lot of quilting, keep some "sandwiches" ready as well. Whenever I start a new project, I always like to run a couple lines of stitching on the fabric, or a similar fabric, just to make sure that my tension is right, as well as my stitch length. I have found that different fabrics usually require a little tension adjusting. This is also a good way to try out new stitches for sewing, or for practicing your free motion quilting. If you have them ready to go, you will be more apt to test first.

You will notice that my test fabrics have some shapes fused on them. This is so that I can test my applique stitches before using machine applique on my actual project.

There are also fabrics that I don't use very often, such as organza, satins, and linen. This is when it is most important to have some testing fabrics ready. If the pattern doesn't leave any extra for testing, it's well worth it to buy an extra eight of a yard for practicing or testing.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lake Michigan Shelf Ice

One of the greatest things about where I live is that I'm just minutes away from Lake Michigan. It's always been one of my favorite places to get away for the day, or even just a half hour like we did today. When you have a cold winter like are having this year, it actually freezes the Lake. You can see where the waves crash to the shore but they don't make it back out because they freeze when they get there. They say the Great Lakes are the most frozen they've ever been this year. They put out several warnings because the shelf ice is very dangerous to walk or climb on. Getting an up close view of it today, I can understand why, and you will too when you see where the water is in the photos below. I thought it would be fun to show you pictures of what the same locations looked like just seven months ago.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Introducing The Tips Page

This post actually started out as a list of my favorite sewing tips. Unfortunately I had so many tips I wanted to share that the article was so long, I didn't think you'd want to read it all right now. I knew there had to be another way.

How could you see them all at once? I decided to put links to them on one page. As I was searching my posts for past tips, I noticed that I also share tips on pet care, kitchen and home ideas, as well as other fun things. If you click on the link at the top of the page that says, "TIPS & SUCH" it will take you to a nicely organized page where you can find anything you want!

So get ready because I have a lot of tips to share with you in the future!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Project 365 - Week 6

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 36 - When the snow gets so high, it's too hard to shovel because you have to lift the shovel over your shoulders. You are very lucky if the wind doesn't blow the snow back in your face!

Day 37 - Spotted this beautiful cardinal in my tree today.

Day 38 - Look! A heatwave! It won't last long because we're heading back to below zero again as I'm writing this. Notice the snowflake on the weather report. Yes, we see a lot of days with those!

Day 39 - I got to see my precious baby Paige this weekend! Always brightens my day!

Day 40 - I can't believe Bubba didn't run away from my camera like he usually does.

Day 41 - Punkie found a sunny spot. This is the first time I've seen her on this table. She usually hangs out in my studio or on our bed, and rarely ventures over to this end of the house.

Day 42 -  Needed to make me a new sewing machine cover for my new sewing machine. It's much bigger than my previous one and neither one of my sewing machine covers would fit it.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Long Cold, Snowy Winter!

It sure has been a cold and snowy winter here along the shores of Lake Michigan. Last year we were so lucky but we are paying for it now! We've had a deadly 30 something car pile-up, a snowstorm that left us in a State of Emergency for a few days, and temperatures with wind chills reaching 30 to 40 below zero. I sure am glad that I only have to commute across the hall now.

The photo above is from the snow we got last night. As you can see, the snow has beautiful sparkles. The photo does not do this blanket of snow justice. When I took Bubba out late last night, I was fascinated by the beauty of this snow. It looked as if someone had sprinkled glitter all over the yard. The photo above is the best I could do to capture it.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When Mother Nature gives you snowstorms, at least take a minute to enjoy it's beauty.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hearts & Love Mug Rug Tutorial

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Mug rugs are so popular right now and they are my biggest sellers, so I thought I'd create a tutorial for you so that you can join me in my addiction. I know they are called "mug rugs" but a lot of people make them for decoration. They look really cute displayed on a shelf, or hung on a wall.

My personal preference is to make them using hand applique, but so many of my customers have emailed me pictures of their finished products and almost all of them are machine appliqued, so that's the technique I'm showing you here. I use a tight zigzag stitch but you can certainly use any stitch you prefer. If want to make them using hand applique, that's fine as well. When I do hand applique, I start out with my fabric bigger and cut it down after the handwork. It's easier to work with a bigger piece of fabric when you are working with a hand stitching embroidery hoop. 

Before you begin you're going to need to download the pattern pieces to your computer. You can find them in a zipped file on the freebie page of my website. I've enclosed a graphic of what the finished item will look like as well as a PDF file of the pattern pieces, and a JPEG of the pattern pieces. Use whichever will be easier for you to get your pattern printed out at 100%. The PDF file should be the best solution for you. The following link will take you directly to the pattern pieces. You will find them at the top of the page.

Small scraps of fabric for appliques
1/8 yard of light weight paper backed fusible webbing
6 1/2 x 10 inch piece of fabric for background

6 1/2 x 10 inch piece of fusible fleece
7 1/2 x 11 inch piece of fabric for back
2 3/4” x 44” strip of fabric for binding
Fray-check (optional: to seal the stitches on the back)
Thread to match fabrics

General supplies:
Scissors, pins, sewing needles, paper & pencil, fabric marking pen or pencil, paper or cardstock (for printing pattern pieces), iron & ironing board, sewing machine, cutting mat with ruler & rotary cutter (optional), pressing cloth or piece of light colored, 100% cotton fabric for fusing your fleece to the top (depending on the brand you use, some fusible fleece instructions call for it).

Important tips & general instructions:
**Read tips and instructions thoroughly before beginning.

**Iron your fabrics before starting. If you will be pre-washing your fabrics, do not use a fabric softener. It can prevent your adhesive from sticking when fusing. 100% cotton fabrics work best.

**Be sure to print out your pattern at 100%. You will see a little square on the pattern, make sure it measures an inch square or your pattern pieces will not fit properly on the mug rug.

1.  Print out the pattern pieces and cut them out. If you use card-stock, it will be so much easier to trace around them.

2. Turn your pattern pieces upside down so that the ink side is facing the paper-backed fusible webbing, and trace them onto the paper side of your paper-backed fusible webbing. Do a rough cut just outside the traced line. You’ll cut on the line in the next step.

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3.  Fuse these to the wrong side of the fabric scraps you have chosen for your applique pieces. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the paperbacked fusible webbing you are using. Cut your applique pieces out by cutting on your traced lines. Remove your paper backing and set aside.

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4.  Fuse the piece of the fusible fleece to the backside of the background fabric, following the manufacturer’s directions for the fleece you are using. Mine requires the use of a damp pressing cloth.

5.  Flip over so that the right side of the background fabric is facing up on your ironing surface. Arrange your appliques on the fabric (glue side down) making sure to keep them at least 3/4 inch away from each edge. Your binding will take up about 3/8” of the edges. Once you are happy with the arrangement, fuse in place following the manufacturer’s instructions for your fusible webbing. 

I make a lot of mug rugs so I created a template (from card stock) that helps me keep my appliques where they belong. The template measures 6 1/2 x 10 inches, and has a cut out center that left a 3/4" margin all the way around. I just place my template on top of my background and as long as my appliques are inside that cut out, I know they will be centered perfectly, and stay within that margin. 

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6.  Machine applique around your applique pieces as desired. Use any stitch you like best. I use a tight zigzag.

Pre-binding preparation:
1.  Place the ironed backing piece with the wrong side facing up on your work surface. Center your applique and fleece piece on top. Hand baste, pin, or spray baste to secure. I personally prefer to use the basting spray on all my small quilt projects, it's just so easy! Using a rotary cutter or scissors, cut your backing piece to the same size as the top/fleece combination. Machine baste all the way around this piece, 1/4 inch from each edge.

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2.  If you want to machine quilt these layers together, you can do that. I always get best results when using free motion machine quilting, but most of the time, I don’t do any quilting. This is such a small piece and fusible fleece was used for the inside.

Applying the binding:
1.  Fold one of the short ends of the 2 3/4” x 44” strip of fabric 1/4” to the wrong side and iron in place. Fold the entire length of fabric in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together, and iron.

2.  Beginning at the center front, along the bottom edge of the mug rug, and using the edge that you ironed in at 1/4", pin the binding to the mug rug with the raw edges of the binding even with the raw edges of the mug rug.

3.  Before you do the remaining edges, you will stitch this section in place using a 3/8” seam allowance. Begin your stitching at the folded end of your binding, and stop your stitching 3/8" from the corner. I like to run a couple of back stitches at the beginning and ending of my stitching to secure seam in place. Remove project from machine and take back to your work table. Do not exceed your 3/8” seam allowance.

4.  Flip your binding piece down forming a fold at a 45 degree angle. Then bring the binding back down so that the fold in your binding will be even with the raw edge at the bottom. Your raw edges of the binding will be even with the raw edges of the mug rug.

5.  Secure with pins and stitch in place just as you did with the first edge stopping 3/8" from the end. Repeat these steps with remaining corners. With the remaining corners, you will also be starting your stitching 3/8” from the corner too. When you get to the end, leave an overlap of at least and inch and trim off the excess binding before stitching that final section down.

6.  Trim off excess threads and remove basting stitches that might have been left behind or exposed. Flip the folded edges of the binding to the back and secure in place. Hand stitch binding to backing.

Be sure to check out the SUPER-HUGE selection of mug rugs at my Etsy Shop.

Do you like free embroidery designs and tutorials?

Be sure to sign up for the weekly newsletter to get a free design every weekend (unless I'm running a sale). Sign up for Sher's Creative News

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Project 365 - Week 5

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 29 - I was taking some video of the deer in the yard while they were running around, and was able to get a few photos before they ran off.

Day 30 - There's nothing like that first sip of tea in the morning out of your favorite mug.

Day 31 - I couldn't pass up these cute black cat clips when I saw them at the grocery store. How can you not smile when you see them?

Day 32 - Somebody got a bath!

Day 33 - My favorite kitchen tip. Today I froze milk in the silicone cupcake cups so I can use them whenever I need them because it may not be for a while. Blogged here.

Day 34 - Had my heart set on a homemade waffle Sunday morning only to discover (during cooking) that my twenty-five year old waffle iron wouldn't get hot enough. Bought this new one today and had waffles for dinner! Now to locate the chocolate waffle recipe...

Day 35 -  Out and about today. Check out the snow pushed to the side from the plows. Yes, that pile is way taller than me, probably twice my height. And we are getting more snow tonight!

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kitchen Tip - Freezing Liquids

I can't tell you how many times we have thrown away milk. There are only two of us in the house, and the only time we ever use it is when we need it for pancakes, in a recipe, or someone comes over and uses it in their coffee. Even if we only buy a quart or half gallon, we throw most of it away. Then something dawned on me, milk freezes very well! I got out my silicone cupcake cups, placed them on a couple plates, poured the milk into them, and froze them. Each cup holds 1/2 cup of milk. After they were frozen, just a few hours later, I removed them from the silicone cups and put them in a ziplock bag for use later. Since they are frozen in half cup servings, it's easy to grab what I need next time I want pancakes or oatmeal. You can thaw them out the day before, or in the microwave when you need them.

I've been doing this for years with our leftover gravy, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and all kinds of sauces. The silicone doesn't absorb odors and they clean up so easily.

Here's a tip: The cheaper silicone cups are easiest to remove from the frozen milk because they are thinner. Just peels right off!

Clipart image from "Country Kitchen" available at Etsy.
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