It’s a Wrap!

C: Stock Christmas PhotoWould you agree that we probably do 95% of the gift wrapping for the entire year during the next couple of weeks? Are you looking for a few ideas to increase the “glam-factor” under your tree? I’ve always been a fan of cool wrappings and over the years have tried a few that worked, and some that didn’t. If your idea of gift wrapping is sticking one of those atrocious pre-made bows (the ones that come in a bag of 50 for $2.99) onto a package then stay with me; I’ve got a few ideas that may improve your wrapping score. They’re all simple to do, you just need to have the right trimmings (be sure to pick them up when they’re on sale and keep some stock on hand).  For the first one, select a pretty paper, wide curling ribbon, and a few small coordinating ornaments to tie into the ribbon:

The teal and green stars were selected to coordinate with the teal stars in the paper.
The teal and green stars were selected to coordinate with the teal stars in the paper.

Here’s a similar wrap styled for a child, with bright paper, wide curling ribbon, and a cute little penguin ornament tied on:

Polka dots are my favorite and this little snowman was too cute to pass up.
Polka dots are my favorite and this little penguin was too cute to pass up.

This next one is what I call “folk art,” with simple brown postal paper, raffia, and a wooden ornament. This style is ideal for packages that have to be mailed (it’s already flat) and has an old-fashioned feel. Doesn’t it make you want to have cocoa with marshmallows?

This is one of my favorites.
This is one of my favorites.

If you’ve been following See How We Sew from our launch in April 2011, you might remember my May 9, 2011 post on fabric flowers. They’re made with the Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker (the large size). All you need to make them is the tool, a strip of fabric, a few folds, stitches and twists. When added to packages they’re quite lovely. Here are three of them, along with raffia and curled paper (more on curled paper later):

Fabric flowers can be lots of fun and very impressive!
Fabric flowers can be lots of fun and very impressive on packages for any occasion!

The next one is elegant and classic with traditional holiday colors. It’s a foil paper, wire ribbon tied in a simple bow and a holiday pick tucked in:

C: wrap pick
Classic holiday colors!

The last package is an example of curling paper. Years ago I attended a gift-wrapping party. The woman who gave the presentation came in with huge tubs of elaborate papers, ribbons, foils, trims, and everything you could possibly imagine to wrap the most gorgeous packages. The technique that impressed me most was that paper could be curled just like ribbon. Just cut strips of wrapping paper–anywhere from a 1/2″ wide to about 2″ wide–and approximately 15″ long, and then curl them with your scissors from the center (just like you curl ribbon)! Once you’ve got enough strips, use narrow curling ribbon to tie the strips together in the centers and attach them to the package. The more strips you add, the better! Who would have guessed paper would curl? I’ve used this technique for years and it never fails to impress. Hint – it works best if the paper is fairly heavy (very thin paper tends to rip).

Curled strips of paper - who knew!!
Curled strips of paper – who knew!!

You might have noticed a theme in my posts this week (rounding up and wrapping up). That’s because these are my last posts. I have been so fortunate to collaborate with three very talented women. We were challenged both creatively and technically to launch See How We Sew and I’m very proud to have been part of this journey. The past two years working with my blogging-sisters Laura, Darra and Jennifer have been very rewarding. I appreciate and value their support and friendship and wish them continued success as they move forward with See How We Sew.

This transition will enable me to focus on pattern design, so please drop in to visit me at Artichoke Collection. I might pop in for a guest post once in a while, so stay tuned. As a “blogger emeritus,” I’ve been given visiting privileges whenever I’ve got something to share!

Happy holidays and all the best for a creative, healthy, happy new year.

C-Christie's Signature

2012 Block of the Month Roundup!

Take a peek at a few of the finished Sew How We Sew Block of the Month quilts using my 2012 BOM patterns. Here’s a photo of my first quilt, made primarily from the pink/orange fabrics in the “Happiness” line by Kathy Davis from Free Spirit.

C: bom pink rev

Up next is my quilt using the gray/citron color palette (initially inspired by the colors in a tree trunk).  I’m very pleased with a fantastic fabric find for the border which coordinated perfectly with the citron/gray colors and added a bit of interest with hints of green, brown and orange. It’s called “LuLu” from Michael Miller.

bom gray rev

Sally Garrison has finished two of her three quilts. If you recall, she selected three different color families from the “Paris Flea Market” line (being re-released in January) by 3 Sisters from Moda. Sally opted to make a narrower border on her quilts, which looks great. Here are photos of the aqua and yellow quilts:

bom aqua rev

bom yellow rev

Margaret Fritz was one of the first to finish her quilt (she’s working on two more). It’s made with a jelly roll in the “Porcelain” line by Lynne Wilson from Moda.

bom mfritz

And in case you missed my October 9th post, here’s Allison Johns’ quilt, made from a jelly roll in the “Hometown” line by Sweetwater from Moda.

C: bom allison rev

You can catch a glimpse of one of Jennifer’s BOM quilts by visiting our current photo tour of “Quilting in the Garden” on the Gallery tab above.

As you finish your Block of the Month quilt(s), please send us a photo to display in our gallery. You can email your photos to our address seehowwesew@gmail.com (be sure to include your name and where you’re from).

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this project and many thanks everyone who made the journey with me. If these quilts inspired you, all the directions can be found in our FREE patterns library.

I hope it brought you . . . 

C: bomjoy

Keep sewing!

C-Christie's Signature

A Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipe – Date Torte

When I was growing up, there were certain foods that my mother made only around the holidays. One of my favorites was “date torte,” which is a delicious bar-type cookie. It’s an easy recipe that’s perfect for taking to a cookie exchange, or for tucking into a decorative tin, as it travels well. You might want to get creative and substitute another dried fruit for the dates. How about cranberries or apricots?

Here’s the recipe: 

Filling

1 cup chopped pitted dates

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. lemon rind

1 cup chopped nuts

Cook dates, sugar, and water in a sauce pan for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. Cool. Add lemon rind and nuts. 

Torte

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups quick cook rolled oats

1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in brown sugar and oats. Add butter and work with your fingers to a crumbly dough. Divide the mixture in half. Pat half the dough in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Spread with the date filling. Crumble the remaining dough over the top and pat down gently. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

       

 

A Little Holiday Inspiration and a Quick and Easy Project!

The holidays are fast approaching and it feels like the retailers have been decked out for weeks. Are you looking for a little inspiration? We’ve got something for everyone.

For quilters, here’s a fun project that’s quick and easy to make for your “quilt worthy” family members and friends. Take a look at Fa-La-La, a wall hanging (24″ x 40″) that’s one of my favorite designs to make and teach. The construction is straightforward – sew the strips, adhere the fusible web, cut out the tree, fuse it to the background.

Samples using poinsettias in mint on the left and in aquamarine on the right.

There’s still time, as this top can easily be completed in one day. This season, my favorite holiday fabric was Nancy Halvorsen’s poinsettias, from Nancy’s Holiday Favorites line by Benartex.  I used it for the outer borders and in the trees, and liked it so much I couldn’t decide between the mint and the aquamarine, so I made one from each. Check your local quilt shop for the pattern Fa-La-La from Artichoke Collection. If they don’t carry it, you can purchase it on my website.

If you’re a baker, what could be more satisfying than something “gingerbread?” Here are a couple of little treasures to get you going:

My kind of architecture!
How could anyone bite the head off that sweet face??

For the decorator, a colorful, yet simple project. I bought special ornaments to make one of these last year and never got them out of the package (the story of my life!).

Super simple!

Here’s to the holidays!

Final Block of the Month Instructions and a Pumpkin or Two

I can’t believe it’s October already! When we started our little block of the month project back in January, it seemed like a long way off! But here we are, our blocks are finished and the pumpkins are in abundance. Speaking of pumpkins . . .

I’ve always been partial to the neutral colors in these mini pumpkins.

Fall is my favorite season, and the other day when I came across these beauties, it was a reminder that the leaves will be turning and cooler weather is just around the corner (soon I hope, last week it was 98 degrees).

So our twenty-five blocks are finished, and we’re ready to complete our quilt tops. Click here to download the final block of the month instructions for setting, sashing and border. Instructions for all the monthly blocks can be found in our pattern library.

I’m still working on completing my quilts, and will share photos with you as soon as they’re finished. My friend Allison (who had an advance preview of the final instructions) got busy and finished her quilt. She used a Jelly Roll in Sweetwater‘s Hometown line from Moda (you may remember seeing her May block in a previous post). Congratulations Allison, your quilt is divine!

Allison’s finished Block of the Month quilt.

Keep sewing and let me know how your quilts are coming along!

September Block of the Month: The Last Block!

September is the ninth and last block! Not only is it an easy one, but you only have to make two of them. Next month we’ll have instructions to finish the quilt – the sashing, the cornerstones, and the border. I’m excited to finish my tops and get them to Elaine, my favorite quilter. Here’s the first sample of my September block, using Kathy Davis’ Happiness line:

Flowers and polka dots – two of my favorite things!

And here’s the September block using the citron/gray fabrics:

My sister Janice finally got going on her holiday quilt. Here’s her September block using the Fa-la-la-la-la line by French General for Moda:

It will be a very special holiday quilt.

Click here to download the instruction sheet for the September block (instruction sheets for all of the previous blocks can be found in our Pattern Library).

Don’t forget to visit us September 22-23 at Alden Lane for Quilting in the Garden.

Let’s Talk Strips

In keeping with our August SeeHowWeSew theme of strips and stripes – let’s talk strips! I’m extremely fond of those wonderful pre-cut strips (2 1/2″ cuts of your favorite fabric line ready to use). It was only a year or so ago that I tried my first pre-cut (a Moda Jelly Roll), and was surprised how much time I saved by purchasing the strips already cut. Many of the major fabric companies are producing their own versions of pre-cuts: Timeless Treasures does Tonga Treats in beautiful batiks, as does Hoffman with their Bali Pops. Rowan calls their pre-cut strips Design Rolls.

Goodness knows you can still cut your own strips, and I often still do – it just depends on the project. But there is something quite decadent about buying them already cut!!  In addition to our Block of the Month project, I’ve designed two patterns that use 2 1/2″ strips. The first is Block Party, which is a simple-to-sew design, alternating two pieced square blocks with sashing and a pieced border. The blocks are made from 2 1/2″ strips, and the pieced border is a combination of leftover strips and random squares and rectangles. If you’re using pre-cuts, buy a package of 5″ squares in the same line as your strips, and you’ll have enough to combine with the leftover strips to complete the border. 

Block Party is one of my favorite patterns and I never get tired of making samples and teaching it! I’ve seen it done in so many different fabric styles and each one has been unique. The first sample is made from strips I cut from my Kaffe Fassett stash (which never seems to shrink, because I keep buying more), using primarily reds and pinks:

I love Kaffe Fassett fabrics!

This next one is made entirely from Amy Butler’s Soul Blossoms line. It’s one of my favorites, but you have to look carefully to see the different fabrics in the photo.

Amy Butler’s Soul Blossoms – awesome!

This one is made from a Timeless Treasures Tonga Treat called Pink Lemonade. I was thrilled with the color palette when I saw the package and knew it had Block Party written all over it.

Pink Lemonade says it all!

The final Block Party sample is made primarily from the Dilly Dally line, designed by Me and My Sister for ModaIn this quilt, I chose to assemble the squares by color, and I love the result!  

These colors are so happy!

My latest pattern made with 2 1/2″ strips is Sweetheart. I think it’s the perfect quilt for a special little girl. For this one, I started with the border fabric (one of my favorite Kaffe Fassett prints), and picked fabrics from my “Kaffe stash” that coordinated with the border fabric.

For girls only!

I hope these projects have inspired you to try strips – they’re lots of fun. Check for the Block Party and Sweetheart patterns at your local quilt shop, and if you can’t find them there, both are available for purchase on my Artichoke Collection website.   

I’m going to be teaching my Retro Chic pattern on Thursday, September 20th,  at Quilting in the Garden. I would love to meet you and promise it will be a fun day. Retro Chic is made from one block with only four pieces (the magic comes from fabric placement). I’ll show you how easy it is to do simple curved piecing. Remember my motto “unique designs with simple techniques for every style.”  In other words – nothing to stress over!  

Retro Chic – simple curves – easy to make!

Check out this great Quilting in the Garden tee shirt – available at In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA.

 Take care and try strips!