Saturday, December 29, 2012

Placemat Tutorial!

Lorrie's Placemat Tutorial

When I decided I wanted to make a set of placements for my friend, Allison, all I really knew for sure is that I wanted them to have a panel on one side large enough for a dinner plate, and a panel on the other side large enough for the utensils.  I also wanted to divide the two panels with some decorative trim.  I did some research and found that on the average placemats are 14"x18".  There are some a bit smaller and some a bit larger but the majority have a finished size of 14"x18" so that is what I decided my finished size would be.
 This photo shows all my materials cut out for 2 placemats.  You will need a side panel cut 13"x15" (plate panel), 7 rectangles cut 3"x6 1/2" (utensil side), 1 back piece 15"x19" and 1 piece of fusible fleece 14"x18" and 15" piece of trim for each placemat.  You will note I have my rectangles placed in the order I want to sew them together.  I used 1/2" and 1/4" seams (see instructions).

I start the sewing process by sewing together the 7 rectangles along the 6 1/2" side (1/2" seam).

Once I have all 7 rectangles sewn together, I iron the seams flat.

 I then lay the side panel (plate panel) right side up and pin the sewn together rectangles to it right sides together.  I then sew the 2 pieces together along the edge (1/2" seam).

I then iron that seam flat.
I then sew trim piece on the seam between the side panel (plate panel) and the rectangle strip (utensil panel).  Once that is complete I iron the fusible fleece to the back panel.
I then place the back panel fusible side down and the placemat top right sides together and pin.  This is where you will do some trimming so that all of your edges align.  
I then sew around the entire placemat using a 1/4" seam leaving an opening to turn placemat right side out along the long side of the side panel (plate panel).  Clip the corners and turn right side out.
Your placemat will look like this and I would give it an iron at this point.  I then pin the opening together and starting in the corner above the opening I sew a scant 1/8" to 1/4" inch seam around the entire piece using a matching thread to close the opening.  I then give it a finishing iron and you are done.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me and I will try and clarify the instructions for you.  

This is my last post for 2012 and I wish each and everyone of you Health, Happiness and Prosperity in the coming year.  See you in 2013!


Friday, December 28, 2012

A Lovely Holiday!

I had a wonderful Christmas this year.  Keith was so excited that he decided he was going to sleep out on the living room floor by the Christmas tree.  Of course, this meant I was sleeping out in the living room as well to guard the packages.  Didn't want a repeat of last year when he opened some packages during the night because he couldn't wait.  Unfortunately, it ended up being an all night SLUMBER PARTY.  He actually only slept from 1:45 AM to 2:00 AM - sadly I know this as I never did get to sleep that night.  Didn't even need the alarm to put the turkey in the oven.  The family arrived around 9:45 AM and packages were opened, pictures taken.  We then spent the rest of our time together enjoying a wonderful dinner, great conversation and lots of laughs!

I didn't get a chance to show you this ornament I had made using a photo of the piece I stitched called Village in the Snow.  I even included the year in which it was stitched.  I'm so happy with how it turned out that I'm going to do this with a few of the other Christmas pieces I've stitched over the years. I will also include on the ornament the year I stitched them.  
The guys all went back to work the day after Christmas so I spent my day putting away all the Christmas decorations.  Keith always tries to get me to start dismantling the tree as soon as the family leaves.  I can honestly say I was too tired to even think about doing it this year.  Honestly I'm not a Scrooge it is just the tree sits in front of a window and by Christmas I am so craving the light from that window in the living room.  I'm always teased by my family that if I put one more ornament on the tree it will fall through to the basement.  I kind of thought it had a few bare spots this year.  I was actually asked the question this year of how many ornaments are actually on the tree.  I tell you it has been a year of questions from the guys in my family this year on numbers of things I do.  Yes, I actually counted each ornament as I wrapped it in tissue paper to put it away this year.  The grand total was 255.      Mmmmmm - should I make it an even 300 before I stop?

I finally decided to do a coffee table vignette with some of my wooden bobbins.  I've been wanting to display some of them for awhile and thought this was a perfect opportunity to try my hand at creating one.  I put the lovely piece Teresa (At Willow Tree Pond) stitched for me as an Advent exchange gift in my display.  I'm pretty happy with the results.
Yesterday I was supposed to spend the day shopping with my BFF, Rene' but unfortunately she woke up ill and our plans were cancelled.  I had posted on Facebook how excited I as to be going and then had to post a follow-up comment that my plans fell through.  Imagine my delight when my friends, Mary and Belinda invited me to join their quilt shop/lunch plans together.  It was so kind of them to include me in their plans and they are both so generous that way.   It was so wonderful to hear about their Christmas celebrations and I got to see Mary open her gifts from Belinda.  She must have been really good this year!  I also received a surprise gift that so overwhelmed me I ended up in tears.  I truly do have the most amazing friends and I love them all.  

Now that Christmas is a wonderful memory it is time for reflecting on goals/resolutions attained (or not) in 2012 and pondering what goals/resolutions to set for 2013.  I'm not a huge fan of setting resolutions as for some reason I think that word sets me personally up for some kind of failure.  Just the term seems to rigid with no room for flexibility.   I try not to "bite off more than I can chew" but to set steps to a bigger goal.  If I set a goal so large that it is unattainable, I end up giving up and feeling like I've failed.  I find I am much more successful in achieving my larger goals by getting to them through a series of smaller goals.  This year I've in mind a couple of goals for my health and well-being, a financial goal, a goal for simplifying/organizing, a goal for my stitching/sewing, and a goal for my reading.   

I promise to have one more post before the end of the year as I am going to give you my design for the placements I made for my friend, Allison for Christmas.  

Monday, December 24, 2012



It is time for the last post before I put the computer away for the holiday festivities I'm hosting at my house.  I finally got around to wrapping the gifts today.  I wish I would learn to wrap them as I buy them but don't think I ever will until I set up a permanent gift wrapping center.  I think I'm destined to wrap all the presents at once on Christmas Eve.  I guess that is okay as long as I stock up on name tags and tape so I don't run out - LOL!  Now my biggest issue will be keeping Keith from opening them overnight like last year.  Based on this photo I think I have my work cut out for me.

I have so many wonderful memories of the Christmas season over the years.  It was mom's favorite holiday and she always made it so speical.  I remember as a kid the Christmas vacations when she would turn on the radio to the holiday music station and make homemade cinnamon rolls while we sang along to the songs.  She loved to go to what was called Flower City during those days and we would look at all the decorated trees and she would pick up favorite ornaments for the tree.  She also had some of the most beautiful lighted wreaths for the front door.  I can remember one year we had an all green tree, another all blue until she settled on her favorite of an all red tree.  I think that influenced my decision on my trees over the years.  I like the all white lights with red, white and silver ornaments.  This year's tree has multi-colored lights as we thought we would try it out but we are going back to all white again next year.  I miss her everyday but especially during the holiday season.  It isn't nearly as much fun purchasing Christmas ornaments without her.  We would be laughing over the year she was looking for mirrored ball ornaments and they were hard to find.  She had me down on the floor under the tree looking to see if we had missed any on the tree in the store to purchase.  I still can't look at a mirrored ball ornament without it making me smile.

Today was the last gift to open for the Advent Exchange so need to update you on the last 3 gifts.

Day 22 was this class in a binder for this scissor holder.  It comes with the pattern, instructions for finishing and the supplies to make.  I'm looking forward to giving this a try as I've never finished anything like this before. 

Day 23 was this lovely Longaberger basket with the Breast Cancer ribbon of hope.   My mom passed away from breast cancer and this is a cause near and dear to my heart.  I just love it.
Day 24 was a gift box filled with silks, trims, pins and a deck of cards.  Teresa, did you know that Keith collects decks of cards?  I can't wait to use some of the trims.

I have to say this exchange with Teresa was so much fun.  After I had initially agreed to do the exchange I thought what have I gotten myself into - how will I ever come up with 24 gifts for the exchange.  It ended up being much easier than I thought and had more gifts than days.  I shipped an extra box for Teresa to open once she opened her exchange gifts with the rest of the things I bought.  A piece of advice when you agree to do an exchange of this size - get a box to put things in as you buy them.  If you don't, when it comes time to wrap you'll be thinking where did I put that at - I speak from experience!  

If you have never done an Advent exchange, ornament exchange, or 12 Days of Christmas exchange - I would encourage you to try it at least once.  This has been my second exchange and it was a blast.  Like Teresa and I did just set up your rules for the exchange at the beginning and let the merriment begin!

Oh, almost forgot here are what I gifted Teresa with for the remaining days of the exchange.

Day 22 was a needle book.  I stitched her initial and made it into a needle book with pockets on the inside for holding scissors, etc.

Day 23 I stitched a Stitch Starter Sleeve (design by Blue Ribbon Designs) and included the stitch starter  ruler (also by Blue Ribbon Designs).  I love the fact that the ruler is see through.

Day 24 I borrowed this pattern from a friend - you see every time I came up with an idea for something to stitch as the big gift it would show up on Teresa's blog as her having completed it.  I borrowed this design from my friend as it was only available at a retreat and would never be offered for sale so I knew she wouldn't be stitching it.  I padded the bottom of the box and included a Just Nan Pin which goes with something in the extra box she received.

I wish you all a Christmas Day filled with the love and laughter of family and friends!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Catching Up!

Time to catch up!  Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers for my son during his dental procedure in the operating room.  He came through it very well and recovered faster than ever.  We were able to get on the road home (2 hour drive) and arrived home safe and sound 1 1/2 ahead of the snowstorm/blizzard that hit here in Iowa.  

We ended up with 12.9 inches of snow and I've been busy with my camera capturing the beauty of our first snow for the Winter.  It was a heavy wet snow so the snow blower wasn't useful.  As you can see from the photo, I can handle a shovel with the best of them.  Everything was shut down yesterday but as long as you drive sensibly you can get around pretty well today.  The temps here are very cold which means we will have a WHITE CHRISTMAS! 
I've opened 3 more gifts from Teresa for the Advent Exchange and can tell you I'm feeling truly spoiled.

Day 19 was this beautiful lined fabric project bag.  The sampler fabric on the front is actually a pocket and it closes with a button.  Teresa, if you made this I'm truly in awe of your sewing/finishing skills. Inside bag was a charm pack called Cinnamon Spice by Blackbird Designs.  Day 20 was an assortment of linens and some GA Limited Edition over-dyed threads.  Isn't the Celadon colored linen beautiful?!   I made a separate photo of one linen included in this package. According to the label on the package it is 36 count printed with original artwork.  It is the coolest piece of linen.  I imagine you are to stitch something on it but I feel like I want to frame it as art instead.  I've never seen anything like it before.  Day 21 was this Longaberger basket with a stitched lid.  The design looks to me like one from L'Atelier Perdu and I'm a huge fan.  

I gifted Teresa on Day 19 patterns x 4 for various pouches, scissor cases, floss keeps, etc. by some French Designers.   
Day 20 was a scissor block and a pair of scissors.  I had my dad make the block for me and I sanded and stained.  Day 21 was a LED Candle in the Sampler style from Where Sister's Gather .  I have several of these candles myself and just love them.   I hope Teresa loves it as much as I do.

Now that my friend, Allison has opened her Christmas gift I can share the placemats I made especially for her based on the colors in her home.  Now she needs a table topper to match.

I just have to share a recipe I tried last night that is a keeper for us.  Many of you have probably already cooked one similar to this.  This recipe was inspired after watching Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri on her show yesterday.  They were talking about chili using ground chicken and I just happened to have some on hand so decided to make some last night.  I kind of made up my recipe based on my mom's original chili recipe and what I happened to have on hand.

1 lb. ground chicken browned
Add chopped onion and celery
Add 1 can petite diced tomatoes
Add 1 can tomato soup (undiluted)
Add 1 5 ounce can tomato juice
Add 1 can white kidney beans (cannellini)

Simmer until warmed through.  I didn't add any additional spices this time (hubby's stomach thanked me) as took all the flavor from the veggies and tomato soup/juice but you could add chili powder, cumin, peppers, etc.  Hubby and I agreed we like this chili better than the traditional chili we've always make.  

Until next time May you enjoy the blessing of family and friends during this Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 18 Advent Exchange

Day 18 of the Advent Exchange was this beautiful tea light candle holder in my favorite color blue.  It looks so pretty lit up don't you think.  My gift to Teresa on Day 18 was 3 fat quarters of Lakeside Linen in various counts.

I'm sitting here waiting for the phone call to give us our check in time for Keith's procedure tomorrow and decided to open my gifts from BFF, Allison in Utah.  When I brought out the box, I had a good laugh as I could see where Keith couldn't wait and had partially opened 2 gifts.  He made it through the outside paper but not the tissue paper on the inside.  He will be happy to see the results when he gets home.  I'm thinking I will be fighting for the owl doorstop.

I also managed to finish the Christmas gift for my older brother last night around 11:00 pm.  I was so close at bedtime that I decided to stay up and finish it.  This is the Prairie Schooler Limited Edition Kit from 2008.  I think he will love it.  He loves the traditional Christmas decorations.

I also managed to complete 2 more placemats this morning.  While putting these together I took photos for my step-by-step tutorial coming soon.

Weather here is taking a turn for the worse.  Started out all bright and sunny with pleasant temps and it has turned off cloudy, blustery and downright chilly.  Expecting our first snowstorm tomorrow late afternoon which could result in up to 9" of snow over night.  Praying for an early check-in time for Keith tomorrow so we can get back on the road (2 hour drive) and hopefully home before it hits.

Until next time.....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Never Enough Hours!

It is embarrassing to realize how long it has been since my last post.  Just seems like there are never enough hours in the week day for everything that needs to get done.  A lot has happened since last Sunday and now it is time to bring you up-to-date.   I decided to make a picture collage of the items I have received in the Advent Exchange for Days 10 through 17.  The pictures are in order so it will be easy to follow along.

Day 10 - I know this was really meant for my son and obviously he knows this too.  You can see in photo 1 an assortment of fun flannel fabrics covered with cowboy hats, cowboy boots, horseshoes - well you can see where this is headed - along with a pattern for a lap quilt.  Well you can guess - and is evidenced by photo 2 - that Keith took one look at the cowboy hats on the fabric and he claimed it for his own.   Not kidding he wouldn't even let me have the pattern to look at instructions for how to make the lap quilt!  You'll be glad to know that as the week has passed he is now just telling me everyday that I still have not made his blanket.

Day 11 was a cute little notepad which personally I think you can never have too many along with these adorable scissors and fob!

Day 12 was an assortment of things for Halloween.  Teresa must have been paying attention to my blog when I stated I had a witches hat tree to hang ornaments but no ornaments to hang.  There is a special orange and black project bag, the 2009 and 2010 Halloween issues of JCS (which I don't have) along with some Halloween fabric, some buttons and a pattern for stitching on towels.  Hopefully my tree will be fully decked out next Halloween.

Day 13 was a stitched ornament and I know this is a Sampler Girl design.  It is already hanging on my tree.  Included was a charm pack of Blackbird Designs Meadows fabric.  I do love a good charm pack!

Day 14 was a total unexpected and delightful gift.  There were 4 older issues of FineLines.  I've never heard of this little publication and there are some amazing designs in these issues I'm looking forward to stitching.  Included also was a boxed set from In The Company of Friends.  Never expected anything like that.

Day 15 was the cutest pincushion.  Yes those are pins that look like little flowers.  LOVE IT!  A girl can never have too many pincushions.

Day 16 was Stitch Witchery and holder.  I have to show my ignorance here as I have no idea how this is to be used.  I heard of it before but never how it is used or how to use it.  You can bet I'll be doing some research.  There is a little spiral bound journal which is just perfect as I used the last page in the one I keep at my computer just yesterday.  I use one all the time while on the computer for writing notes, orders numbers, wish lists, etc. etc.  There was also a pattern by one of my top 3 favorite designers Jardin Prive'.  It goes with the Sampler Bouquet that I stitched from this same designer a couple of years ago.

Day 17 was this wonderful drawstring bag.  I couldn't believe my eyes that she had actually sewn in a stitched piece into the bag.  I wonder how she knew I had this design in my "to be stitched" pile.  Seriously I need some classes from Teresa on finishing.  Her work is amazing!
Now here are my exchange gifts to Teresa for Days 9 through 17.

Day 9 was a needle case I made for her.  You may notice a theme running here that I bought fabric all from the same line in shades of pinks (her favorite color) to make the various items I sent to her.

Day 10 was this box kit by Lady Dot Creates.  It comes with the box, instructions and everything you need to line it.  I received one for Christmas last year and I keep my earbuds in it in the living room.  Maybe not its' intended purpose but I've never been one to conform to rules.

Day 11 was this adorable pincushion by BRD Girl (which is Belinda of Blue Ribbons Designs).  She has a great Etsy shop where she showcases her sewing  addiction  hobby.  This is my favorite of her pincushion designs.

Day 12 is a sewing pouch.  Okay, Teresa, I know it looks like a cellphone case and in reality it was the intended use of this pattern but I received one filled with all the necessaries for sewing and love that idea.  When going to stitch someplace other than my home, I fill it with scissors, a package of needles, my telescoping magnet, a small tape measure, a stitch starter, a hilighter, pen/pencil, etc.  Just whatever I need for that days' outing.  That being said - break the rules and use it however you want!

Day 13 was an array of pinks, purples and green flosses from Victorian Motto.  I love her over-dyed flosses as she does use DMC floss as her base and I find that they don't knot up and fray like many others I have used.

Day 14 was a lined project bag.  Again in pink her favorite color.

Day 15 was an assortment of fat quarters.

Day 16 was the pouch, pattern for design on pouch and called for threads to stitch it up.  I wished I had bought that one for myself.

Day 17 is a book by Bareroots with several embroidery designs and finishing instructions.  I also included a journal for keeping a record of her stitching projects.  It has things on it like design, fabric used, threads used, date started, date ended, etc.

At the end of Day 24 Teresa has another box to open with a few more surprises.  In this box is something that goes along with Day 8's gift and Day 24's gift.  I do hope Teresa is having as much fun as I am with this exchange.

Now on to my busy week.  I had a Malfunction Indicator Light come on in my car on Tuesday while driving down the road.  I had to check the owner's manual to see what that meant - decided it was probably nothing but said if the light starts to blink - well expect to be towed so thought it best to check out as we have the upcoming trip for Keith's dental work in Iowa City.  I was able to get it in first thing on Thursday morning but on Wednesday when I drove it to the grocery store the light went off.  Still figure be safe rather than sorry.  Luckily the cars are so smart these days that it stored the code of why the light came on and could see it was nothing major - most likely a gas tank seal not tight so they resealed this and checked a few other things so appears I'm good to go.

Yes, that is our new Camaro being loaded on a flatbed tow truck ready for a trip to our local service center.  You ask why?  Well, it was bound to happen at some point.  Bill has been systematically tearing the car apart to add all these "extra special" little things he wants on the car.  The latest was chrome on the engine.  The first side went pretty quickly with no problems but when he got to the second side it was a "little tight" space wise so he decided to unbolt and remove the oil dipstick sleeve that goes into the engine.  Chrome went in just fine then.  UNFORTUNATELY, DIPSTICK SLEEVE DID NOT!  He tried for quite a long time.  I took my turn at it for awhile and a friend with a Camaro took a stab at it as well.  No luck.  A call to service center said driving it down was not a good idea unless, of course, you wanted oil everywhere.  It would not fit on a trailer we could borrow so tow truck it was.  Keith and I picked it up Friday night and was told it took 2 guys to finally get the thing back in where it belonged.  At any rate Keith and I had a great ride home and I have to admit Interstate/Highway driving is not going to be a good thing for me in this car.  I can see how someone could be going 100 mph without even trying!

Friday was my book club's discussion and holiday potluck.  It was an enjoyable day.  I did not finish reading the books before I went but had read enough on the subject in the past to be able to follow and participate in the conversation.  I did not stay for the potluck but did participate in the book exchange.  Everyone who wants to brings a wrapped book that they have read.  If you bring one, you take one.  Unfortunately, the book I picked was one I had already read.  I will pass along to my dad as it is a mystery and he enjoys a mystery.

I got home from book club to find my hubby home from work and very sick.  Here is it Monday and I think he is finally on the mend.  He is hoping to head back to work tomorrow.  Needless to say date night was cancelled and I've spent the weekend taking care of everyone.

Just in case you think all I've done is take care of the guys and the house - well let me assure you I've been crafting as well.  I did make a couple of ornaments.  I stopped in at Creekside and picked up some fabulous fabric to make some placemats I designed.  Before I was done I had cut out enough for 12 placemats.  So far, the 4 for Bill's Uncle are the only ones completed.  I've had a lot of interest in my design so will be posting my materials list, cutting instructions and finishing instructions later this week.

 Off to Iowa City for Keith's O.R. dental work on Wednesday.  Prayers that everything goes well are always appreciated!

Until next time....

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Little Sunday Decorating!

I saw this magazine cover of a holiday mantle back in October.  I was drawn to their use of the vintage wooden bobbins in the display and as I have a small collection I picked up the issue.  From that moment on I've been picking out things (both from my holiday decorations and while shopping) to include in my version of this display.  I created my display on my buffet as I don't have a fireplace mantle.  I could see this display on a side/coffee table as well.  This afternoon as the guys were doing their Sunday afternoon thing I decided to tackle putting up my display.  This is what my version looks like.  Thanks to my good friend, Mary A.'s inspiration I decorated my white tree in pink lights in my mom's memory who passed away from breast cancer.  All the decorations on it are ones we shopped for together.  I think she would love how the tree turned out.  The white ceramic Christmas tree  with all red lights is one mom made and gifted to me a couple of years before she passed away and it  is one of my most treasured holiday items.  I topped my large bobbin with a "Frosty" the snowman I purchased about 10 years ago.  There is a little cottage with ice skaters that mom bought for me as well as a snow globe she gave me about 20 years ago.  I added in a new white sleigh and reindeer and filled the sleigh with my own homemade pinecone ornaments (thank you Margo for teaching me how to make these).  In the background you can see my stitched "Christmas Village" and I sprinkled a couple of things under the tree.  Yes, that is a pair of ice skates!  I have to say that I'm pretty happy with my results.

Last night was date night and it was a wonderful evening!  Bill and I enjoyed a nice supper at On The Border and then it was on over to the mall for shopping and to see a movie.  Parking was a nightmare there last night but were lucky to find a spot 3/4 of the way down the aisle straight out the door we needed.  We've been having trouble thinking of the "WOW" Christmas gift for Keith and were delighted to find just the thing last night.  I can't wait to see his expression when he opens it up.  Mums the word until Christmas.  After that we had about 30 minutes before we needed to get the movie and spent some time watching the little kids sitting on Santa's lap.  It was pretty funny as you could tell when a kid was going to start crying from fear.  We ended up seeing Playing for Keeps.  It was an okay movie but not as humorous as the previews led us to believe.  Still had a wonderful night out.

Today is Day 9 in the Advent Exchange and this is what I received in my package.  Isn't it gorgeous!  It has been finished into a what I have seen referred to as the "cube finish".  It is just spectacular!  It is a perfect finish as I can display anywhere there is a flat surface in my house.  Mmmmmm!  Where shall be its' permanent home?   On Day 8 I gifted Teresa with a couple of wooden boxes.  She has made so many beautiful boxes and I can't wait to see what clever idea she comes up with for these.  

Well, I'm off to start supper so until next time......