Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I know you've probably seen or heard of these bowls. In case you haven't, these are sewn bowls that you can microwave but they won't get hot.  You know when you microwave a bowl of oatmeal or a mug of tea and you reach in to get your stuff out and burn your fingers? Well, if you put the bowl or mug in a "microwave-a-bowl" first you won't get burned.

So I decided to make some. They're really easy to make. I know a couple ladies make them for craft shows each fall and they practically walk out the door.  First of all, here's what you'll need to make these:


Microwaveable 100% Cotton Batting (Pellon or Warm & Natural)
100% Cotton Fabric
100% Cotton Thread

Notice how there is nothing on the list like polyester.  That's because we don't want anything to catch fire. Hot tea, good. Fire, bad. You get the idea.  You can get all of these materials at any craft store.

So let's get started.  You can make these any size you want but here's the basics.  Cut 2, 10" squares from your cotton fabric and batting. I used the Pellon microwaveable batting and I found it a little stretchy so don't worry if it doesn't line up exactly with your cotton square.

Next, layer your cotton fabric on top of your batting and sew from corner to corner making a large X across your fabric. Do this to both squares.

Next, make your darts.  Darts will draw the fabric from a square shape into a more round shape. To sew the darts. Fold your square in half on the vertical, lay it down on a hard surface. Keeping the fold side to the right, measure 1" to the left and mark and 2" down and mark.  You can use a pencil or pen or chalk. Whatever you've got on hand. Now, draw a line from the top mark to the bottom, making a triangle.

Grab, the bottom of the fold and flip up. Keep the folded of the square to the right, make a second set of marks and triangle.  Unfold the square and fold in half horizontally and repeat the process.  You should have 4 marks like this.  Repeat this on the second square.

Refold the square one way so you can see the line you marked and sew along the line. Do this on all 4 lines. Trim away the triangle, making sure you don't cut into the sewn lines.  Repeat this on the second square.

After you've sewn and trimmed the darts on both squares, place the squares right sides together lining up the seams for the darts and pin together.  Next, sew all around the square leaving a 3-4" opening for turning. Tip: Don't leave a corner open. Make sure your opening is along a straight edge.  This is a little tricky since there's a lot of batting at the darts even with the trimming. Before you turn your square right sides out, trim off the little tips of corners to get rid of the extra batting.  Just don't cut your stitch line.  Turn your square right sides out and pop your corners out as far as possible.

At the opening, turn your fabric inward and either pin, clamp or just hold it in place.  Now you're going to top stitch all around the edge about 1/4" in from the outside. This will sew your opening closed.  Topstitching is a bit tough.  There's a lot of layers at this point so just do your best. Your bowl is now complete.

Your bowl is also completely washable and reversible. I'm sure it'll get gunky with food spills so wash away, my friend, wash away. Also if you want your bowl taller just make the darts deeper. So instead of 2" down the fold, go 2.5" or 3" etc.

You can make 15", 12" or 10" squares.  I did one that was 8" and it was a bit small even for a mug to fit into so I would stick with the bigger squares.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Outer Border

I've been working on the outer border for a while now and I'm about 75% done.  Out of 44 blocks I've got around 32 done so I'm getting there. I decided not to do a video of these blocks just photos. There's a lot of fabric placement and thread changes and trying to operate a camera at the same time is just begging for something bad to happen. So I decided not to risk it.

Here's the border block and corners. They are the smallest blocks I've done for this quilt. The borders are 4.5'x6" and roughly 12K stitches and the corners are 4.5" square with around 9K stitches.

Outer Border Corner

The outer borders require some accurate piecing first.  The first piece for the corner is strips of fabrics 1 and 4. The second strip is made from fabrics 3, 1 and 4. In the top photo of the square, strip 1 is the white, brown, white and strip 2 is pink, white and brown.

To make the square, stitch out your placement area. Then place strip 1, right side up and tack down. You need to line up the seams with the placement lines then tack down. If your 1/4" seam is off or wiggles a bit you're going to have trouble lining up the seams with the placement line.

Place a piece of tape at the seam areas and place strip 2, right sides together and tack down. The tape will keep your fabric from shifting. Place the strip 1 on the last placement area and tack down. 

Your block should look like this after the last fabric stip is sewn down. Next, place your backing fabric on the back of your hoop and tack down. Then place thread C in the needle and bobbin and stitch.

Place thread D, in the needle and bobbin and stitch. Finally, put thread A in the needle and bobbin and stitch the final decorative stitching.  Looks like my center white square is a hair too big and it makes the stitching in the center look shifted.

Outer Border

Half of the outer border is made with strip 1, which is made by sewing fabric 4 and 1 together and using single strips of fabric 3.  The other half is made using strip 2, which is made by sewing fabric 3 and 1 together and single strips of fabric 4.  The outer border block shown is made using my strip 2. You will also need scraps of 4, 3 and 1.

Begin by stitching the placement area.  Place your scrap of fabric 1 over the bottom triangle and tack down, using water soluble thread and trim along the left and right sides.  Change your needle thread to a neutral thread. Next, place your single strip of fabric 4 on the right side, right sides together and tack down, flip and sew down.

Place a piece of tape at the seam, align the seam of your fabric 2 strip (or 1 whatever your doing) right sides together and tack down, flip, sew and trim.

Continue alternating between fabric 4 (brown strip) and your pieced strip until you come to the top. Using scraps of fabrics 4 and 3, place the fabrics in their respective corners and tack down using water soluble thread. Place the backing fabric on the back and tack down. Now you're ready to do all the decorative stitching.

Since I'm working with my strip set 2, I'll start with thread D (on the pink fabric), switch to thread C (for the brown fabric area) and finish with thread A down the middle. 

Just remember to put matching thread in your bobbin and always pull it up to the top before sewing. I still get some thread nests but probably not as many. 

I'm finding the inner border to be much harder than the outer border.  With this border you have to sew 2 fabrics together. If I need to sew 3 together its a lot harder to get those seams to line up on the placement lines. Maybe its just me and my cruddy sewing skills. 

I laid out the blocks I've got done on my bed and I put each row in a zip bag. That way I'll sew each row together first, do the sashing and then start sewing all the rows together.  I took a few pictures using my phone and thought I'd give a sneak peak. 

At our last class, one of the ladies had started sewing hers together and it looks really, really good. I really can't wait to see all the quilts sewn together. Also, the quilt shop has decided they can't schedule our trunk show at the end of February and it turns out the date they settled on is January 17. So hopefully, weather permitting, I'll get some good pictures of other quilts that are being done in different color schemes. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Secretariat Festival 2014

After getting my Secretariat quilt done earlier this year, I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if I could get it signed by Penny Chenery and Ron Turcotte?" If you don't know, Ms. Chenery owned Secretariat and Mr. Turcotte was the jockey who rode Secretariat in all three triple crown races and more.  So, I emailed asking if it would be possible and I was told the best chances of getting the quilt signed was to attend the Secretariat Festial in Paris, Kentucky at the end of September. Who knew there was a Secretariat Festival?  Apparently, most people in Kentucky no doubt but since I live in Ohio, I had no idea.

The opening of the festival was Friday, September 19 and it was in full swing on Saturday, September 20th. There was some horse exhibitions, bourbon barrel painting (it is in Bourbon County after all), auction and memorabilia signing by several jockeys such as Ron Turcotte,  Jean Cruguet, Pat Day and Steve Cauthen and others.

This was our first trip to the festival and Kentucky for me and my husband and we didn't know what to expect but I was mainly there to get my quilt signed. Unfortunately, Ms. Chenery was ill and had to cancel which was a huge disappointment for me, I have to admit.

We arrived just after 9 a.m. and although there were a few people already there, most of the vendors were still setting up their booths.  Quilt in hand or in bag I should say, I went into the small building where the silent auction was being held and purchased a festival poster and one signature for Mr. Turcotte. There is a charge for signatures but this money goes to the Secretariat Foundation and to the Injured and Disabled Jockey Fund so its money well spent.

Around 9:45 there appeared to be a line forming for the signing area. There was a bit of confusion this year which was a little annoying simply because no one seemed to know how it worked or what we were doing. This resulted in me receiving a number and being pushed back from where I was in line.  There were a few ladies next to me and we chatted during our wait about horses, horse farm tours and of course my quilt.

I received a lot of compliments on my quilt and some disbelief and several people took pictures. When it was my turn to get my quilt signed, it took me a minute to maneuver the stupid thing and Mr. Turcotte was kind of enough to compliment my quilt as well.  I believe he called it "beautiful."  

When I left the signing area, I received some more compliments on my quilt and headed out to find my husband. I had mentioned getting a Secretariat stuffed animal on my way out but my husband beat me to it. Glad he did too, because I forgot about it. I just love the little blue and white checkered mask and the embroidered saddle blanket. 

Its amazing to me how an animal, in this case a horse, can inspire so many people. I was just 3 months old when Secretariat ran in the Belmont Stakes in 1973 and I admit I find his story fascinating. He was a horse who liked to run but he did it in such a way that defies what we know of horse racing. No horse had ever run the Belmont race like he did. No horse had ever run each 1/4 mile faster than the previous one. No horse had ever ran the Belmont like it was nothing before. The Belmont chews horses up not the other way around. He set a track record at the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and the The Belmont that still stands today after 40 years. I watch the Belmont race on YouTube which I've seen a hundred times and I always think before the race starts that all the people there have no idea what they are about to witness. They will witness what we consider to be an impossible feat or perhaps just a perfect moment. A moment people will still talk about for years and decades to come. People may not have known what was about to happen on that day in June in 1973 but what a privilege it must have been.