Thursday, June 30, 2011

cherry pie

Ever since I read my friend Sarah's recent post about cherry pies, I've been itching to make one. I love to bake, and it's been a while, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Is there nothing better in the summer than fresh, from-scratch cherry pie? I think not! And here's my recipe, which would be perfect for any of your Fourth of July celebrations, or just as a special treat anytime.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter, cut into pieces and cold
1/4 cup ice water, plus a few tablespoons more, if needed

Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix them together. Add the pieces of cold butter and pulse the machine until the butter is incorporated; the mixture will look like coarse crumbs. While the machine is running, slowly add the ice water through the feed tube of the processor. Process only just until the dough starts to come together. Be careful not to overmix and do not let the dough get too wet or sticky. To test to see if the dough is ready, remove the lid of the processor and squeeze a bit of the dough. If it's too crumbly, add a bit more ice water, one tablespoon at a time, while the machine is running.

Turn out dough on a clean surface, and divide into two equal parts. Press into round discs and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour or up to overnight.

(If you don't have a food processor, or prefer to do this step by hand, you can incorporate the butter into the flour and salt using a pastry cutter or a couple of forks. Then just slowly add the water and mix with a large wooden spoon just the dough starts to come together.)


7 cups tart cherries (I used frozen--see tip after recipe)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about half of a lemon)
Pinch of salt
1 Tabelspoon of milk or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of pie dough until it's big enough to fit complete in your pie plate and up to the edges of the dish. Place carefully in the pie plate and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Add cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt into a medium sized bowl. Mix until well combined and set aside. Roll out the other piece of pie dough until it's large enough to fit over the pie plate. Remove chilled pie crust and plate from the refrigerator and pour prepared filling into the dish. Carefully place top crust over the cherry mixture, trim off any excess dough, and pinch edges together. Prick the top of the crust with a fork to allow steam to escape, and brush the entire surface of the crust with milk or heavy cream.

Place the pie on a cookie sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 40 to 5o minutes. If the edges of the crust start to get too brown while cooking, cover them with a bit of aluminum foil to keep them from burning. Transfer pie to a wire wrack and allow to cool. Serve either warm, at room temperature, or cold and enjoy!

Tip--if you choose to use frozen cherries, which is much easier in my opinion than pitting a bunch of fruit, defrost completely and drain well before adding the rest of the ingredients to the filling mixture.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Modern Quilting class

They are still blowing me away with their awesome work! Last week, my students finished their quilt tops and backings and practiced quilting on their machines. That's Jessica with her pieced back above.

And here's Susan's beautiful quilt! She came to class with her quilt front and back all sandwiched together with her batting.

I really love how bright and fresh her quilt is going to be. She did such a great job choosing fabrics.

And here is June's gorgeous quilt top. These photos don't really do it justice, and it's just stunning in person.

I asked my students to bring their own machines to class since they would be doing most of the quilting work at home. I thought it was best that they learn to quilt on their own machines and get comfortable with how they work.

I brought some scrap pieces of muslin and batting and let them practice quilting on those to get the hang of it before moving on to their quilts.

I think Susan is a pro at free-motion quilting. She's doing a great job!

June took advantage of the large floor space at Sewn to lay out her quilt and sandwich all of the layers together. I'm telling you, this quilt is stunning.

And Jessica did the same. Plus she's got two little helpers (one's a newborn!) at home, and I can tell you from experience that it's sometimes easier to work without extra little hands helping. ;)

I can't believe it, but our last class is tonight! I'm so excited about the work that they're doing, and I couldn't be more proud of how well their quilts are coming together. They are all amazing students!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Project Modern: Challenge 3

When I first learned that the challenge for the third round of the Modern Quilt Guild's Project Modern competition was the word "organic," I thought of how I define organic quilting. To me organic quilting is quilting improvisationally. Not following a pattern, but building, constructing, and designing as you go, adding fabric scraps of different colors, sizes, and shapes, and combining them to make a cohesive design. I grabbed my sketchbook and immediately thought of creating a quilt that was improvisational in design, and in colors that feel organic to me. My submission to the challenge is Cross Ties.

Cross Ties measures roughly 80" by 100" and is the largest quilt I've made to date. It's constructed completely out of solid cottons, in various shades of cream, grayish browns, with just a bit of pale blue.

These colors feel organic to me because I view them all as hues that are found in nature. Each block is 20" square and is made up of an improvised cross in the center. No two squares nor crosses are alike in the quilt.

Some crosses have more gray, some have more blue, some even have various shades of cream in them.

Each block and cross was made organically. I didn't set out with a conceived notion of how the cross would look like; I just kept sewing and constructing until it looked right to me.

Cross Ties is quilted with a meandering, free motion pattern using cream thread, which I think adds to the organic feeling of the quilt by softening the hard edges of the improv crosses.

I quilted it on my vintage, industrial quilting machine, which I affectionately refer to as Old Blue. I'm glad to have that machine with it's long neck because it was quite a task quilting something so large!

It's been washed once to give it the crinkly look that I love. I'm so excited about this quilt, because it will be used by me, on our bed. Another first. Thank you, Modern Quilt Guild, for supplying the inspiration to me to make Cross Ties.

Happy Mail, Sis Boom style

You know how much I love Happy Mail, right? It's the best. And a few weeks ago I got some Happy Mail from the amazing Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom, for a little project I'm working on for her.

She stuffed the box, and I mean STUFFED THE BOX, with tons of beautiful scraps of her fabric designs. So gorgeous. And so generous.

I've started to cut into them and I'm really excited about how the project is turning out. I can't wait to show you what I'm working on! And check out Jennifer's blog for tons of colorful inspiration, including her stunning new book Girl's World, which is a must if you love sewing for girls.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

review and giveaway of olive and ollie on Obviously MARvelous

I was contacted by the sweet Mar of Obviously MARvelous a couple of months ago about doing a review and giveaway on her blog. I made each of her three children custom birthday shirts and had a lot of fun doing it. Mar was kind enough to review my work and had some really great things to say

Not only was the products sensational, but I honestly received the BEST customer service, communication, and experience while working with Olive and Ollie. Heather was always kind, beyond easy to work with, answered emails promptly and shipped my shirts when she promised. Many of my long time readers know that I do not always mention the customer service portion of a review, but when it goes this far above and beyond, sharing it is a must!

How sweet is that?! I'm so glad Mar and her children liked their birthday shirts. Mar is also holding a giveaway on her blog for one of my custom shirts, so check out her site to enter to win. The giveaway ends July 20, 2011. Good luck!

Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along Day 3

Thanks again for joining me on the Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along! I'm so glad to see you here and I'm looking forward to seeing all of the projects that you're working on. Have you joined our flickr page yet? There are some fun photos popping up there so don't forget to add yours too!

Today we're talking about hanging devices. There are a variety of different ways that you can hang your Modern Barn Quilts, and it really depends on whether you are using wood panel or a stretched canvas to decide what's the best for you.

For my wooden panel version that I have hanging outside, I used 1/4" plywood, so it's not very heavy at all. It's two foot square and it weighs probably about 5 pounds.

It's hung with two D-rings. You can see in the photo above that this type of D-ring can be attached to the board with two screws, but we just used one, since the sign isn't that heavy. These type of D-rings can be found at your local hardware store, and here's a similar style that is available at Home Depot. Be sure to purchase hardware that is made to withstand the approximate weight of your sign.

My wooden sign has two D-rings and here you can see how they are spaced on the back. They are screwed into the board and then the rings hang on to two screws that are on our house.

If you're working on a canvas version, you can use something as simple as a nail or screw that is on the wall, and just hang the back edge of your canvas from that. Or, if you'd prefer something a bit more substantial, you can use either picture frame wire or a saw tooth hanger to hang the canvas from a nail in the wall.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along Day 2

Welcome to the second day of our Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along! How is the painting going? Are you working on wood or canvas? For the first version I made, I worked on plywood, but I'm painting on canvas this time.

This looks a little different than the one I showed you in the Day 1 post. That's because it's a new one. My first try on canvas didn't turn out so well, so I decided to start over and use different colors.

These two canvases are 12" square, but they are "gallery style" which means that they are about 1 1/2" inches wide from the wall.

I decided to use different colors for these barn quilts too. I'm using creams, tans, and blues, which are inspired by my latest quilt. I'm planning on putting that quilt on our bed, so I thought it would be fun to make a couple of paintings to hang in the bedroom, too.

For these, I decided to paint the entire tier of logs a solid color, to build up areas of paint on the canvas. The acrylics I'm using take a couple of coats, and I used the same color all along the tier as a base.

I did not to use painter's tape on the canvas. I was having a hard time getting it to adhere smoothly (due to the bumpy surface of the canvas) so I just painted the edges as carefully as I could using only my brush.

Once the tier was dry, I mixed a different hue (either lighter or darker) than the base coat to give each tier more visual interest, and to represent pieced logs in the composition. The lighter blue above represents a different "log" in the log cabin inspired barn quilt.

To make the different hues, start with your base color, and the add white or cream to make it lighter. For darker hues, add a darker version of the color you're working with. I would avoid adding black or grey to make a darker hue because you color will most likely end up pretty flat and muddy.

Then keep painting and painting, and painting some more, until all areas of your canvas or board are covered.

Here's how these two turned out. They're not completely done, but they are close. I still need to do some touch ups and clean up some spots, but overall I'm pretty happy with them.

They are much more loose and painterly than the wooden version I made, but I think that's ok. I think I prefer the looser look on the canvas for some reason.

Check back tomorrow for information on finishing and tips to hang your barn quilts. Also, have you joined the Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along flickr group yet? There are some fun photos that people are starting to add, and I've love to see yours as well!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

sneak peek from my impromptu photo shoot this weekend

I didn't plan on photographing my latest quilt at these railroad tracks, but we were driving and I thought it looked like an interesting backdrop. I was actually looking for a location at a nearby park, but didn't see anything that I liked. I took a lot more photos on the tracks, but I'm still on the lookout for a better location today. Wish me luck, please!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along Day 1

Hello! Thank you for joining me on my Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along. I'm so excited about this little project and I cannot wait to see all the barn quilts that you come up with.

To begin your Modern Barn Quilt, you'll need to start with either canvas or plywood that has been primed. Most store-bought stretched canvases are primed, but if you use plywood, you'll have to paint a coat of water based primer on it before you start. Allow the primer to dry completely before you start drawing on the board.

I'm using two 12" x 12" stretched canvas that I purchased at Michael's for the paint along, and a variety of water-based acrylic paints.

Once you've chosen your design, draw it lightly with a pencil and a ruler. For my sign, I'm making another wonky log cabin. I didn't started with a perfect square because I want my design to be slightly off center.

I added a total of three tiers of "logs" around my center square.

I also drew a couple of perpendicular lines to two of the logs to make it appear that they are pieced together.

If you don't like the placement of your lines, you can use your eraser lightly on the surface of your canvas or board. It won't remove the line completely from the primed surface, but it will be light enough so that the paint will cover it. Be sure to brush away any eraser crumbs before you paint though!

Once my design was complete, I drew dashed lines at the end of each log to add to the pieced feeling once the sign is painted.

I'll be painting each log a different color and these dashed lines will be my guide as I go along.

I've set up a Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along flickr group where you can share photos of your work in progress and of your final signs. I'd love to see what you all are working on so please feel free to add as many photos as you'd like!

And feel free to grab the new Modern Barn Quilt Paint Along button too!

For complete directions on how to paint your Modern Barn Quilt, please see my tutorial here.
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