Saturday, September 3, 2016

Quilt Camp - The Teacher Learns from the Student

During my quilt camp this summer I had a unique experience.  We made rag quilts so we could finish them in a week.  Since it was a small camp I was able to sew with my student.

My student chose a stack of brightly colored squares for her quilt.  There were beautiful, blues, pinks, greens and yellows.  She arranged her blocks in a color wave pattern and it turned out beautiful.

My student's stack of fabric squares.

She is laying out her quilt in a color wave pattern.

The back side of her finished quilt.

The finished quilt.

I selected a collection of purples in various shades.  The first layout I put down was a traditional checkerboard pattern using the different lights and darks.

The first layout in a traditional pattern. 
Space was limited so I pushed them close together.

My student looked at my layout and said "I don't like it that way.  What about this." She then proceeded to relay out the blocks using the color wave method.  It turned out so much better.

The second layout in the color wave pattern.

There was nothing wrong with my original layout but it was predictable and traditional in nature.  It was also very angular.  By using the color wave pattern layout the quilt is more modern looking and has a very fluid motion.  It is always amazing to me how changing one simple aspect can make such a difference in a quilt.

My finished quilt in the color wave pattern.

I learned something valuable that day.  Don't get stuck in a rut with how you layout your quilt blocks.  Branch out, mix things up and be open to someone else's vision.  Always remain open to new ideas and be teachable.  Who knows what wonderful creative avenues will open up for you.

So the next time you are laying out a quilt of monochromatic blocks give the color wave layout a try you may be surprised how it turns out.  I am working on a pattern for this quilt and layout so check back soon to get your copy.

Danna

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dinnertime Revolutionized with Crockpot Freezer Meals

Like most working moms I have always struggled with the 6 o'clock panic of "What's for dinner?" Our family had a list of the "flash in the pan" dinners that could be made quickly and easily.  But this list was growing old and stale.  Since both of my kids are now grown and either in college or working full time we rarely eat dinner at the same time.

While on Facebook one day a friend posted a picture of her kitchen counters full of plastic bags filled with Crockpot recipes.  Her caption read "A day of Crockpot freezer meals done!"  I thought that sounds like a great idea so I began to search the web for recipes.  Listed below are links to some of the ones we have tested and all have turned out great.

Here is the basic idea behind crockpot freezer meals.

  1. You spend a few hours preparing the ingredients for the meals and placing each meal in a freezer bag.
  2. You then freeze the meals for up to 3 months.
  3. When you are ready to cook the meal you take the bag from the freezer and dump the ingredients in the crockpot to cook.
  4. When you get home your dinner is waiting.  Add a simple salad and some vegetables and you are ready to eat.

One reason I love this method is our crockpot meals typically cook 8-10 hours.  I start them when I leave for work and we usually eat round 6:30-7:00 pm so that is a full day of cooking.  With all the ingredients frozen as one large block it takes a while for them to thaw before the cooking begins.

The first time I tried this method my husband and I spent about an hour and a half to prepare 10 meals.  That was about two weeks of meals.  Each morning I would pull a bag from the freezer, grease the crockpot, dump in the contents of the bag and set the timer and temp.  Ta Da! Dinner was done when I walked in the door that evening.

My full freezer from just a few hours of preparation.

Here are a few tips we learned along the way that helped.

  1. All the recipes and sites tell you to freeze the bags flat.  I prefer to freeze them standing upright so they fit in the crockpot without having to thaw them at all.
  2. Cut all the vegetables for all the meals you are preparing and put aside.  Then as you are adding the ingredients for each meal it goes a lot faster.
  3. Buy really good plastic freezer bags.  Trust me you do not want to clean up a mess from a broken bag.
  4. Be sure to check your spices when making your grocery list.  But if you are out of a spice you can usually substitute something similar.  I have done this many times and always had success.
  5. Enjoy the process.  When you are preparing your meal bags the task can seem overwhelming but the reward of dump, cook and eat for the next few weeks is well worth the effort.

Here are the links for some of the recipes I used.  If you do a search for Crockpot Freezer Meals you will come up with hundreds of sites.  Pick out the ones your family will like and give them a try.

Once a Month Freezer Slow Cooker Meals
Thirty Handmade Days 31 Crockpot Freezer Meals
The Krazy Coupon Lady Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

I hope you will give crockpot freezer meals a try.  If you don't want to do a large group of meals at once try putting together just a few at a time.  At least you will have a couple of days without the 6 o'clock dinner panic.

Danna




Saturday, June 11, 2016

Summer is finally here!

I always forget just how crazy and busy the last weeks of school can be.  With all the final programs, concerts and that last academic push you are worn completely out by the end of May.  And for many of us we have a few more days of school into the month of June.  But we are finally done and I say "Let the summer fun begin!"

I hope you will be enjoying your summer and take some extra time to do things you enjoy with the ones you love.  I will be teaching my Sewing and Creative Arts Camps for kids again this year.  I am looking forward to some fun and exciting projects.

So, sit back, grab your first craft or sewing project and let the good times role.  I will keep you posted on all my fun projects.

Danna

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Not Your Ordinary Goody Bag

In the previous post I told you about the trip I took this spring on the Patchwork Express.  On this trip we loaded the bus early Saturday morning and visited 5 quilt shops during the day.  We spent the night in the town of our first quilt shop visit on Sunday.  We visited 3 shops on Sunday before returning to Fort Worth.  I always love going to different quilt shops and seeing the beautiful fabric, notions and of course the sample quilts.  I get so inspired all I want to do is sew and quilt for the next month.

Our group traveled on the bus sponsored by a shop where my friend works. Some of the ladies from my regular quilt group attended so it was a fun time.  One of the ways my friend wanted to make our bus the best was by giving every single person a door prize.  So in order to help her meet her goal of giving over 50 people a door prize I made some Just Because Goody Bags.

A Just Because Goody Bag is not your ordinary goody bag.  It is a bag filled with 5 or more handmade items.  My idea is that a goody bag should be something unique and fun.  Not just a few store bought items thrown in a bag and tied with a cute ribbon.  I have tailored these Just Because bags with a quilter in mind.  Each bag contains the following handmade items: a set of gift tags, a small sign, hand stamped note pad, set of lettered quilting pins, zipper pull and a scissor fob.

All the items in each bag.  There were different colors schemes.

The zipper pull was two yo-yos stacked with a button in the middle.

The lettered pins will make keeping track of rows 
easier when putting a quilt together.

Never loose your scissors again.

Everyone can always use extra gift tags.

The hand stamped note pads were fun and easy.

The whole group of 10 Just Because Goody bags.

I had a lot of fun designing each item and more fun making them.  To wrap up each bag in a fun way I used a plain brown paper sack, a small paper doilies and a quilting clothespin.  Each lady that received a goody bag seemed to love the items included.

The wrapped bags.

Oh, so true!

Check out my Etsy account WebberWorks for more Just Because Goody bags.  They are great for any kind of retreat.

Danna

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Patchwork Express - A Trip Worth Taking!

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to attend a Patchwork Express trip.  This is a trip where you board a bus with 49+ other quilting friends and travel to different quilt shops.  On our trip we visited 8 quilt shops in 2 days.
Three friends from my quilt group. 
A quilt shop visit always brings big smiles!

I had not been to most of the shops so it was exciting to visit someplace new.  One of the things I liked about seeing all the different shops is looking at all the quilt samples each has on display.

And of course all the fabric to drool over is another great perk.  Each shop has its own unique way to display and arrange fabric.  I am a person who starts my creations by selecting a color first.  So the shops where the fabric was arranged by color was easier for me to see all the choices.  Some shops arranged theirs by fabric lines.  This was interesting to see all the choices in a particular fabric group.

One of my favorite shops had large gift bags called "Mystery Fabric Grab Bags".  Each bag had between 4-8 pounds of fabric and you paid a fee per pound.  I purchased a 4 lb gab for $20.  I love the excitement of opening a grab bag not knowing what is inside.  Mine had two large pieces of yardage fabric in brown and black.  Also included was a ton of pre-cut  and packaged coordinating pieces.  The pre-packaged sets look like they were from a past block of the month.  I am sure I will have fun creating something with those pieces.

My friend bought a $100 Mystery Grab Bag.
This finished quilt top was in her bag.

Our bus had lots of fun winning door prizes, playing quilt bingo, sharing snacks and discussing all of our fabric and notions purchases.  The "Bus Mamma" was a friend of mine and she did a great job taking care of all our needs.

Our "Bus Mamma"

With each shop we visited I gathered new and different inspiration for future quilts.  And of course fabric to go with that inspiration.  Like most quilters I have more projects in my head than I will ever be able to accomplish but it is always good to have new inspiration.

Adding to my stash.  It is always good to have new fabrics.
You know the saying "She who dies with the most fabric wins."

The next time you are in your favorite quilt shop ask if they participate in a Patchwork Express event.  It is a trip worth taking.  Where else can you travel with so many that share the same passion for quilting.

Happy travels!
Danna


Friday, February 26, 2016

Instructables - A New Tutorial Site

While recently searching for instructions to do a particular project I stumbled across a new site called Instructables.com.  The site is full of wonderful tutorials for all sorts of projects.  Anyone can post their "Instructable" tutorial in a wide array of categories.

Instructables has some nice features like: you can walk through the steps online while working on the project or print out a PDF file of the project to do later.  After posting you can be invited to judge one of their many contests.  I have been selected as a judge for several contests.

I have posted 3 Instructable tutorials for some of my projects both old and new.  I was excited when all three of my Instructables were featured on the site not long after being posted.  Below are the links for my Instructables:





Be sure to check out this site to learn something new or to share your own "Instructable" with others.

Danna

Friday, February 12, 2016

Crayons, Crayons & More Crayons!

At the end of the last school year I ask teachers to save their broken crayons for a project I was doing over the summer.  I was expecting to receive a bag of crayons instead I ended up with a box full of crayons. WOW! Who knew elementary school kids had so many broken crayons.

My copy paper box full of crayons.

The project I had envisioned was for the students in my Sewing Camps to make heart shaped crayons and then sew a bag to carry the crayons.  They could sew one for themselves and one to give to a friend.  At both of my sewing camps we made crayons and bags and the girls loved the project.

The two purple bags tied with ribbon are the crayon bags.

But, I still had a whole box of broken crayons left.  What to do? What to do? After spending hours peeling the paper off the crayons I had several ideas.

Peeling the paper off the crayons was in a strange way
kind of therapeutic. It was mindless work that was much needed
after a long school year.

First I made "crazy crayons" to pass out at my churches Trunk or Treat party.  I figured the kids would get enough candy so why not make something a little different.  This was a big hit!

Crazy crayons are made by putting a small piece of
various colors in the mold.  Each one comes out different.

Next I packaged in paper cupcake holders a small set of solid color crayons and a "crazy crayon" for my family and friends children and grandchildren for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

These paper cupcake holders hold 5 crayons perfectly.
I found my holders at the dollar store in a package of 24.

Each cupcake holder had 4 solid crayons and one "crazy crayon"

The remaining 500+ crayons I made will be used for student prizes in my husbands school classes and our daughters after school program.  It just goes to show that when you ask people to save some items that are destined for the trash can you need to be prepared for more than you thought you would receive.

The question now remains will I be able to distribute all of the crayons I made before the end of the school year, and will I ask for more?  Check back in June to see the result.

Danna