Saturday, December 19, 2009

There's Still Crafting Time Before Christmas!

There's still time to make these darling cupcake ornaments for Christmas—or for a Valentine's party! The photos on the free tutorial (see below for web address) are much better than mine!

I'm so amazed at how much free and wonderful information is available on the web—particularly the tutorials for sewing, quilting, and crafts projects. This one really caught my eye—enough to run out to buy the supplies and whip some right up for pretty little Christmas gifts for friends and family—not to mention to hang on my own Christmas tree. They don't take long and the free tutorial is well done. Visit the site below.

I'll add my two cents to the designer's directions to make the process even easier!
1. Buy a 2-ounce bag of the iridescent fake snowflakes (about $1.99) and a large bag of the plain and mix together in a sturdy paper plate bowl. I did about half and half. I used the entire 2-ounces of iridescent flakes with a similar amount of the plain snowflakes for 18 cupcakes.

2. Look for the quick-drying crafts glue (Alene). A 4-ounce bottle is enough for 12-18 ornaments, depending on how much glue you use on each one.

4. After "skewering" the balls as directed in the tutorial, hold each one over another paper plate bowl and drizzle a healthy amount of glue on the top of the ball, first. Then use the sponge brush to spread it. You really need a "healthy" coating of glue for good snowflake coverage.

5. Place the snow-covered balls in a tall drinking glass rather than a coffee cup if your skewers are long. Six skewered balls should fit in one glass without touching.

6. Now that my cupcakes are finished, I wish I had cut a circle of thin cardboard to glue into the bottom of each cupcake liner—they would be sturdier, easier to handle and to store. Do this step while you are waiting for the snow and glue to dry completely so they're ready when you're set to finish the cupcakes.

7. Use cool-melt "hot glue" for the safest application of glue just inside the upper edge all around the cupcake liner. Then insert the snowball and carefully press the liner to the ball all the way around.

8. Adding the hangers and cherries turned out to take the most time in the entire process. I used narrow ribbon loops—about a 5" length makes a good hanger. I also used fine straight pins from the sewing room to secure them in the glue. Then I added another "shot" of hot glue and pressed the cherry in place, stem up. It was too difficult to push the stem through the ribbon. Before the glue cooled, I sprinkled more snow over the cherry to make sure that it wouldn't show. Voila! The cutest little cupcake ornaments I've ever seen!

9. I think the cost for these ornaments turned out to be $1.00 or less! They are pretty cool and make an inexpensive project for a great little gift!

These would be too cute arranged on a cake stand for a party—give one to each guest as a favor. They would also be cute, with or without the hanging loop, for place settings.

Merry Christmas! A special offer for my readers!
If you are following my blog, for a limited time, you can order any of my patterns at my website for the list price, with totally FREE shipping or handling charges. That applies whether you order a single pattern or several. It's my Christmas gift to my readers. Print off the order form and send with your check or money order (US funds), postmarked by January 15, 2010, and the shipping is FREE!

Merry Christmas! Barbara
And, here's my favorite fudge recipe--I just whipped up a batch for Christmas nibbling!

Fabulous Fudge

I think this recipe came from my Grandma Weiland, who loved sweets, particularly at Christmas time!

2¼ cups sugar
¾ cup evaporated milk
16 large marshmallows
¼ cup butter
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Optional: Instant coffee granules--see note below.

Butter an 8" square cake pan.

1. Mix the sugar, milk, marshmallows, butter, and salt together in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly and bring to a boil--until just bubbling all over the top of the mixture.

2. Boil and stir just 5 minutes more and remove from the heat.

3. Stir in the chocolate pieces; stir until melted.

4. Stir in the vanilla and the nuts.

5. Spread in the buttered pan and allow to cool.

6. Cut into pieces of the desired size.

I add a teaspoon of instant coffee when I stir in the chocolate for a richer flavor. For Butterscotch Fudge, substitute butterscotch chips for the chocolate chips.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Vest Revisted

I cannot believe this year has flown by with only one new post from me. Maybe now that my books are done--The Sewing Answer Book is in the editing stages now and is due to be released in July of 2010--I will actually have some time to sew and work on new patterns and post more often.
Merry Christmas to anyone who is following me and hasn't given up on my blog! I really do hope to post more often in the months ahead.

I'm generally not one to leave a project unfinished, but I must admit there are a few things hiding in my workroom that I haven't quite completed. One was a Christmas patchwork vest that I made in the early 90s as a work-in-progress sample for one of Judy Murrah's wearable art books (while was Editor-in-Chief at That Patchwork Place). It has been tucked away to finish for a special holiday ever since. Now that I have more time to sew, I've decided to finish, give away, or toss that have languished long enough.

When I brought out this pretty Christmas vest to finish, I basted the side seams and tried it on. Oh Dear! Something happened to my figure in the intervening years and it didn't fit me anymore!
And it was shorter than I like to wear these days—no tummy-hiding with this shorter, classic vest design! Not wanting to toss the vest and knowing no one it would fit if I did finish it, I decided to cut it apart and use parts of it to make a special Christmas stocking for my granddaughter, Kendall. She will be 21 months at Christmas time and I can't wait to see her reaction to Grammy's Christmas decorations. I've had to put things up high to keep the amount of temptation to a minimum.

It was fun to use some of the patchwork parts of my never-finished Christmas vest to make this little stocking for her.

I cut the stocking front from the patchwork made for the vest back. I rescued the cute little "baby block" packages from one front and fused them to the stocking front. Next I cut a back and the cuff from fabric leftovers that I still had in my box of green scraps and fat quarters. A short length of wire-edged ribbon for the loop was the finishing touch. I hope Kendall will keep this stocking forever, as a remembrance of her "bonus" Grammy.

Note: I didn't have a stocking pattern of the right size, so I photocopied a stocking shape I liked from an old catalog clipping, then enlarged it in several steps on my copier until it was a size that would fit across the back of the vest on the patchwork. I traced it onto tissue paper so I could see the patchwork for positioing purposes and then cut it out of the patchwork. I cut the toe and heel from patchwork pieces leftover after cutting the stocking front.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sew Excited!!

Yes, I'm so excited! I just opened the box containing my very own copies of my very own book! The Quilting Answer Book has landed and is available at bookstores, quilt shops, and online. To order online, go to

It's so much fun to see such a big project come to such lovely fruition. Working with the folks at Storey Publishing was a stellar experience for me as an author--on the other side of my usual place on the editor's fence!

Signing Books in Colorado
I'll be traveling to Colorado this month to help my mom following wrist surgery--and I'll be visiting the Great American Quilt Factory on May 23rd from 10:00am to Noon to visit with quilters and autograph copies of my book. If you live there or know a quilter who does, let them know! While in Colorado, I'm looking forward to reconnecting with a colleague from days gone by. I haven't seen Carol Ann Waugh, now an art quilter, with whom I worked at Butterick Publishing in the early 1970s. Check out her website to see her wonderful art quilts!

Save Our Planet
After watching Oprah's recent "green" show and witnessing the disastrous heap of garbage floating between our West Coast and Japan (90 miles deep at places), it became even more obvious to me how important it is for all of us to do our part to save our planet and all who inhabit it. Plastic bags are one of the worst offenders, trapping, encasing, and strangling our wildlife.

Add to the impact of that show, my first-ever trip to a local dump--my husband and I took rotting lumber from an old shed to a local transfer station for transport to the landfill. Midway through our dump, a large garbage dumpster backed up on the opposite side of the container truck into which we were disposing of the rotted wood--which will decompose. As we stepped back to avoid the stench, I watched with dismay at the amount of garbage just one truck holds--and at the things that rolled out that could have been placed in home recylcing bins.

I felt bad for all the times I took the easy way out in the past and just put things in the garbage rather than keeping a recycling bin on my porch. I do recycle now. When I looked to my right, I saw one of the container trucks in the yard with a big sign that read, " Half of the contents could have been recycled."
It should say "should have been recycled." As a result of that sobering trip to the dump, I came home and made a set of 5 cotton canvas tote bags to keep in my car, using my Magic Tuck Market Tote pattern. Of course, plain Jane canvas has no place in my life. I embroidered the pocket for each tote with a favorite fruit or vegetable motif. My Bernina artista 730 made it so easy!! Here are the finished totes.

FYI: I'm w
orking on a "tote-torial" that shows you how to adapt the Magic Tuck Market Tote to a canvas tote with embroidered (or not) pockets. You will find it at

What makes this a magic tote, you ask? Well, it has a
special tuck in the bottom that allows for a flat bottom when you stand it up to load it with your shopping goodies, but when you're not using it lies flat with the bottom tucked up inside as shown in these two photos.

I hope you'll
consider making lots of these totes to keep in your car for your shopping trips. A set of four or six would make a great gift for each of your friends and encourage them to recycle.

Here are closeups of four of the embroideries on the totes:

Until next
Keep sewing and smiling!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Very Best Reason to Make a Quilt!

A Beautiful Granddaughter!!
It's been two months since my last post--Christmas, very cold and snowy weather, and a major battle with a respiratory problem zapped my energy and time, not to mention trying to work on my newest book (The Sewing Answer Book) to be published next year and loving this beautiful baby whenever we get to have her with us for a few hours each week. Kendall is 10 1/2 months now and almost walking on her own. I love rocking her and singing her to sleep--she's a good cuddler.

Another Baby Coming Soon!

My "baby" will be "born" soon! I love the cover of my new book, The Quilting Answer Book (Storey Publishing, It's at the printer now and will be available sometime in April. The price is great!! Just $14.95 for a 436-page handbook to keep by your machine and to tuck into your workbag to take along for quilting classes! It's chock-a-block full of all the info you need to make a quilt from choosing fabric, to cutting and sewing the quilt top, adding borders, quilting, binding and labeling! I hope you will ask for it at your local quilt shop and consider giving it as a gift to friends who quilt, especially the newbies. It's a great little reference, even if I do say so myself!

That's it for this post. My sewing book is due at the end of March--and I want to send it in early. I'm close to finishing the first draft so I will easily make my deadline.

In the meantime, keep sewing and smiling!! And check out my new tote patterns at They're available at many quilt shops around the country!