Monthly Archives: March 2012

Book Review: Modern Blocks

99 Modern Blocks book cover

Over the last few months, I’ve had the chance to really dig into a modern quilt block compilation from C&T Publishing: Modern Blocks: 99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designers compiled by Susanne Woods.

This book was at the top of my Christmas wishlist, and has moved with me from sewing room to every other room in the house while I figure out which block to make. After all, there are 99 blocks to choose from! The blocks represent a wide variety of styles, from patchwork to paper-pieced, appliqued and embroidered. Each block in the book is an original design or a fresh take on a traditional block.

Binary: Modern Blocks

Some of my favorite blocks in the book, including “Binary” (above) and “It’s a Stretch” (on the cover), were designed by the very talented Angela Pingel of Cut to Pieces. Angela was the winner of the recent Moda Bake Shop SLICED competition, and you might have seen winning project, an adorable owl backpack.

Saturn's Rings: Modern Blocks

“Saturn’s Rings,” designed by Latifah Saafir of The Quilt Engineer,  uses bias-cut strips appliqued to a base block. The bold colors really pop and it’s easy to imagine a whole quilt made from this simple yet stunning block.

House on the Hill: Modern Blocks

“House on the Hill” pairs patchwork with applique and creative machine-embroidery. It’s designed by Monika Wintermantel. There are so many blocks in the book that I want to make when I find the time, and they range from beginner to advanced skill levels.

There is also a Flickr group dedicated to this book, so you can go there to add your blocks or see the blocks that others have sewn up in a variety of fabrics! Here are some recent blocks from that group (photos by Seamed Up).

My creation

As you can see, the book has a staggering variety of blocks! So how did I ever choose which one to make first?

My Blocks

Four Acres Block: Modern Blocks

As part of an online quilting bee I participate in, I’m always looking for a good 12.5″ square block to make in a variety of colors. I whipped up these blocks (plus one more) from the “Four Acres” pattern above, designed by Solidia Hubbard. The book gives specific measurements for each cut, so there is no guesswork, and I was happy to be able to pre-cut all of my fabric one night, and sew the blocks the next day following the block assembly instructions.

4x5 Blocks, 1st Qtr

Although I’ve been known to spend as long as 6 hours designing blocks for this bee, I’m happy to report that this book helped me shave 2 hours off of my production time! Whether you are part of a quilting bee or just looking for a way to build your quilting skills, Modern Blocks is an excellent resource for your quilting library.

Have you checked out Modern Blocks yet? If so, what blocks really caught your eye?

Sew Along Winners!

Thank you to all of the participants in the Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along! I had so much fun seeing your lovely pillows, and I hope you had fun making them.

Of the 16 completed pillows entered here, the random winning numbers are 5, 13, 12, 11 and 9!

Flea Market Fancy fat quarters winner:
#5 Janelle @ Emmaline Bags & Sewing Patterns

pleatedpillow sew along by Janelle

Make It Sew Modern book winner:
#13 Tabitha – Klucking Bear

Pleated Box Pillow

$20 store credit to Lindsay Sews on Etsy winner:
#12 Ella @ throwawenchintheworks

Glass Half Full PDF pattern + pattern of your choice from Create Hope Designs winner:
#11 kimberlee

pillow #2

5 spools of Aurifil Thread winner:
#9 Kendra @ missknitta’s studio

Congrats to the winners, and I’ll be in touch shortly! If you didn’t get a chance to sew along with us, you may down the free pattern and follow along with the posts at any time. And when you do, we’d love to see your projects in the Craft Buds Flickr group!

Would you be interested in another Craft Buds sew along? If so, what would you be most interested in making (bag, shirt, accessory, home decor/quilt, etc.)?

Book Review: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home + Giveaway and Recipe

Taking a break from our sewing/crafting book reviews to focus on something else many of us love, ice cream!! Jeni’s ice cream has a special place in my heart because my family stops at one of her shops in central Ohio around Columbus whenever we drive through that area. Her ice creams are intensely flavored and have a wonderful creamy texture. Jeni’s carries normal flavors like chocolate and vanilla but there are always seasonal specials with unusual flavors.

When Jeni came out with this cookbook I made sure to get a copy. I’m pleased to report that the recipes don’t disappoint! I dusted off our ice cream maker and started cooking up recipes. In the past, our homemade ice cream has always been good but not quite as good as a specialty ice cream shop. With these recipes I’m making incredible flavors and textures that we’re loving! The Lemon and Blueberry Frozen Yogurt was a perfect balance of sweet and tart, the Vanilla Bean doesn’t seem like “plain” ice cream anymore, and the Salty Caramel can be addictive. The recipes can be a bit involved but once you get used to making the standard base they become faster and easier.

The book is divided up by season depending on what ingredients are used. There are over 80 recipes total for ice cream, yogurt and sorbets. Here’s just a few samples of what ice cream recipes you can expect:

  • Spring: Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk, Pineapple Sorbet, Baked Rhubarb, Savannah Buttermint
  • Summer: Sweet Corn and Black Raspberry, Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries, Kona Stout, Cucumber Honeydew and Cayenne Frozen Yogurt
  • Fall: The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream, Roasted Pumpkin, Maple with Buttered Pecans, Riesling-Poached Pear Sorbet, Rum with Toasted Coconut
  • Winter: Wild Berry Lavender, Banana with Carmelized White Chocolate, Gooey Butter Cake, Black Coffee

Also included is information on Jeni’s background and on equipment and ingredients. In the back there’s are extra chapters on fillings and toppings such as:

  • Nuts and Dried Fruits: Things like Honey Nut Pralines, Sugar-plumped Fruit, and Cognac Fig Sauce
  • Variegates and Fruits for Ice Creams: Roasted Cherries, Blueberry Sauce, etc.
  • Baked Goods and Candies: Vanilla Bean Marshmallows, Almond Brittle, Crisp Streusel, etc.
  • Sundae Accessories: Carmelized White Chocolate Bombe Shell, Honey Butterscotch Sauce, Whipped Cream, etc.

Also included in the book you’ll find information making your own ice cream cones or macaroom ice cream sandwiches.

The recipes recommend making the ice cream and then putting it in the freezer to harden before serving. When it comes out you’ll have perfect scoops. Basically, if you want to make ice cream you’ll want to get this book. You’ll be turning out amazing results and there are recipes and combinations to please everyone. You can look inside the book and see some of the recipes on Amazon and the recipe for Lemon and Blueberry Frozen Yogurt is available on the Splendid Table. You’ll see that the photos in the book are amazing and my photos don’t do it justice.

If you check out Amazon, you’ll notice a few people in the reviews mention two typos in the original printing of the book. These have been corrected for the edition that’s currently available. Also, to get the smooth and creamy ice cream texture you find at premium shops, the recipes include a small amount of corn starch and corn syrup (although she mentions you can substitute tapioca syrup). Just a warning in case that bothers you!

And here’s my homemade vanilla bean ice cream paired with homemade root beer from a local shop. Doesn’t get much better than this!


Recipe: The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World

Excerpted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books). Copyright 2011. Photographs by Stacy Newgent.

Makes a generous 1 quart

This recipe is a result of a career-long quest: packing as much chocolate into ice cream without taking away the ice-creaminess. It is rich, bittersweet, and dense, and the texture is slightly chewy, with extreme chocolate flavor. Folks often say it tastes like the inside of a chocolate truffle.

Always use the best ingredients available, especially when making an ice cream with one singular flavor. Use the best-quality chocolate you can get your hands on. A high-cacao, full-bodied, fruity chocolate will cut through the cream, and the flavor will be more dramatic.

Chocolate Syrup

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • (55% to 70% cacao), finely chopped

Ice Cream Base

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Pairs well with: Absolutely every flavor in this book and just about anything else you can imagine.


  • For the chocolate syrup: Combine the cocoa, coffee, and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Stir the syrup until smooth. Set aside.
  • For the ice cream base: Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese, warm chocolate syrup, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.


Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.


Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.


Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.



Artisan Books has generously agreed to give away a copy of this book to one of our lucky U.S. readers! Just leave a comment below (one comment per person please) telling us your favorite ice cream flavor, or one you’d like to try from Jeni’s book. The giveaway will be open through next Friday, March 30 at Midnight EST and the winner will be chosen by and announced on this post. Congratulations to comment #14, Cynthia!


Giveaways Roundup + Pillows Update

You still have three sewing days to get in on the Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along, and enter your pillow for a chance to win prizes. It takes about 2-3 hours to whip up this pillow, and you can customize using scraps, pre-cut fabric, or whatever you have on hand!

Check out these recent additions to the Craft Buds Flickr group. I love the variety of pillows and personal touches!

You can link up your pillow here by Friday, March 23, and we will announce five random winners on Saturday!

Speaking of Winners

Have you checked out our giveaways page? Lots of fabric and other lovely things you can enter to win this week! Also, you can promote your craft supplies or handmade giveaway any time at Craft Buds by adding the link.

Giveaways March 19-25

Link Up Your Work! Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along

Have you been following our Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along? I’ve seen several inspiring pillows pop up already, and today is the first day to link up your pillows for prizes! Let’s see what you can win:


Update: Five random winners will each take home a prize for linking up their finished pillow to this blog post by next Friday, March 23.

1 winner: A stack of Flea Market Fancy fat quarters from my pre-order!

1 winner: Make it Sew Modern book by Vanessa Christenson
1 winner: $20 store credit to Lindsay Sews on Etsy

Make it Sew Modern book cover Lindsay Sews on Etsy

1 winner: Glass Half Full PDF pattern
+ pattern of your choice from Create Hope Designs
1 winner: Aurifil Thread Sample Pack (5 spools total)

Glass Half Full - Quilt Pattern Aurifil Thread

The downloadable pattern will tell you all you need to know to make this pillow, but we’ve also been covering each step on the blog!

Even if you’ve added to the Flickr group, you must add your pillow here to the InLinkz tool so you can be eligible for prizes. Please link directly to your blog post about the pillow or your Flickr photo URL.

Enjoy the free pattern and have fun finishing up those pillows through March 23rd! We’ll see you back on the 24th to announce the winners!

Grab a button!

Craft Buds Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along

Is Your Quilt Block Barn Worthy?

Today marks the beginning of the Third Annual AccuQuilt Barn Quilt Contest. What is a barn quilt, you ask?

2011 Unveiling of "Sweet Rose" barn block  - photo by Chris Bristol of the Fremont Tribune

2011 Unveiling of "Sweet Rose" barn block - photo by Chris Bristol of the Fremont Tribune

Painting quilt designs on barns as art is a relatively new phenomenon that started in 2001 in Adams County, Ohio. In recent years, barn quilt trails have been plotted so visitors can hop from one stop to the next and see all of the patchwork-inspired art.

Accuquilt wants YOU to design a quilt block to be displayed larger than life on their headquarters, and will select one lucky winner to receive a $1,000 AccuQuilt Shopping Spree along with a trip for two to Omaha, NE, to visit AccuQuilt’s new headquarters for the public unveiling of the winning barn quilt design. In addition, the runner up will have a smaller version of their design displayed and will receive a $250 AccuQuilt Shopping Spree! (You could buy a GO! Baby and your choice of dies.)

2010 Accuquilt Barn Quilt Contest Winner

2010 Accuquilt Barn Quilt Contest Winner

You can enter starting today, March 16th through April 9th. That’s just over 3 weeks! The top one hundred quilt block designs will also be recognized with a $25 to Accuquilt store credit. Note: Submit block designs as digital art. You do not need to sew the actual block at this time.

I’m going to start thinking about my block. So, let the inspiration strike, and then GO! enter the contest.

AccuQuilt - Barn Quilt Design Contest - Enter Now!

Pleated Boxes Pillow: Envelope Pillow Back + Make Pillow Form

First things first. The winner of the Mend It Better book is comment #53 Sofia, who said, “A seam ripper. Who knows how many times I’ve used and it has saved my project. Great idea for a book I’m excited to see it.”

Congrats Sofia!

This will be our final instructional post of the Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along.

If you haven’t had time to start yours yet, don’t worry. We’ll be back on Friday with a chance to link up your pillow for prizes, and you have until March 23 to enter. That’s 12 more sewing days!

Today I’ll guide you through the steps to make a simple envelope pillow back, and a custom-size pillow form for your pillow. This method can be applied to any of your throw pillow projects, so let’s get started!

Make Envelope Pillow Back

1. From your remaining background fabric, cut two rectangles 14” x 14” for the sides of your envelope pillow back. You’ll see here that my squares are stacked.

On the edge of one square, press a half-inch fold with your iron. Then fold over again and press, sandwiching the rough edge inside the fold.

Repeat with one edge of other square.

2. With the folded edge facing up so you can follow along with your sewing machine foot, stitch on top of the fold, ¼” from the flap edge. Repeat with other square. If you stitch it too far away from this edge, your flap will splay open and won’t have the finished edge you are looking for.

This is what your finished seam will look like. I’m showing you the back side of the fabric, which will be tucked inside your pillow.

3. Place your pillow front on a flat surface, right side up.

On top, place one of your squares, right side down with raw edge aligned to raw edge of pillow front and folded edge across the third column of boxes. Since you want the smoothest finished edge to show, place that side so it is face down and touching your pillow front.

Place matching square right side down, raw edges aligned to the other side of the pillow front. Reminder: Everything currently visible will be tucked to the inside of your pillow cover after turning. All “right sides” should face to the inside of your stack.

4. Pin stack together and stitch ¼” around entire perimeter.

Here it is after stitching the perimeter.

5. Trim and finish edges with a wide zigzag foot, or clip with pinking shears to prevent fraying over time.

6. Turn pillow cover right side out and press.

Make Pillow Form

1. Lay your pressed pillow cover flat on top of folded, inexpensive muslin fabric. You could use muslin from the bolt, or something you have around, like an old sheet, pillow case, t-shirt, etc. Just make sure the print of your muslin fabric will not show through your pillow case.

Cut two rectangles of fabric 2” larger than pillow top on every side (two pieces of 18” x 22”).

2. Align muslin rectangles with right sides together. Stitch ¼” around perimeter, leaving a 4” gap for turning. Turn right side out and fill with 8 oz. to 10 oz. of polyester fiber filling, depending on desired thickness of pillow form. Try to keep fiber filling in one large piece, rather than separating into handfuls, as you push it uniformly into the pillow form. Leave end open until you have tested for fullness inside pillow cover.

3. Insert pillow form into pillow cover. Adjust filling, using your fingers to push into corners. Roll pillow form with hands to smooth out filling. Once you are satisfied with the shape, remove pillow form and stitch opening closed before inserting.

You may choose to machine stitch the pillow form on one end like I did here, or hand stitch so your thread is barely visible. Since this will be hidden inside the beautiful case, this is a step I don’t worry about looking too perfect.

And it’s that easy! Here are some in-progress beauties and the first finished pillow from our Flickr group! Gorgeous interpretations here.

Pleated Boxes Cushion

pleatedpillow sew along2 Close up on my crooked sewing


Photos: 1. Mary 2. Janelle 3. Bayeaston 4. QuiltingLodge

Craft Buds Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along

If you haven’t already, you may download your free PDF pattern here.


Pleated Boxes Pillow: How to Pleat

Welcome back to the Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along!

Today I am going to show you how to add those lovely pleats to the rows of your pillow front. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Let’s get started! Did you get your free PDF pattern?

Add Messy Pleating

1. Along each of the background fabric rows you just added, take a 5” section of the row and add 3 to 4 horizontal folds.

Hold in place and press.

Repeat with the next 5” section until you’ve pleated the whole row.

2. Pin gathers in place, at the patterned box intersections, so that the pleated rows are about 1” to 1.25” wide. You can measure the first one and approximate the rest.

3. Starting at the right-most patterned box intersection, stitch a vertical line from the top to bottom of the row, just between the box corners. Remove pin as you sew and use your fingers to carefully guide fabric through, retaining the pleats. Backstitch at both ends.

4. Without cutting your thread, release your presser foot and lift your pillow front so you can stitch the next vertical line. Again, stitch between the patterned box intersections and backstitch at both ends. When finished with the row (six vertical lines), trim threads. This will save you lots of starting and stopping!

5. Repeat process for other two rows. To keep the pleats on outer edges of pillow front from shifting, stitch across each row with 1/8” seam allowance from the edge, so stitching is not visible when pillow is assembled. (See below: Left pleated edge is stitched close, and right is still open.)

6. Trim threads. Your pleated pillow front should measure about 14” x 18”.

And that’s a wrap! There are some lovely pillow front popping up in the Flickr group, so pop on over if you are still wondering what fabrics to use. You still have two full weeks to get in on this sew along and enter to win prizes!

Craft Buds Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along


Book Review + Giveaway: Mend It Better

Mend it Better: Creative Patching, Darning, and Stitching by Kristin M. Roach is a new release from Storey Publishing that celebrates a well-worn piece of clothing and teaches the reader how to make it new again. In a society that flocks to the new and discards what is old, the advice in this book is simply refreshing.

Kristin got her start in mending pre-loved clothing for her blog Craft Leftovers. Although she wasn’t always in love with the craft of sewing, she learned from her grandmother to artfully wield a needle and thread.

Mend It Better book contents

The book covers techniques like patching, darning (fixing holes in knit fabric) and caring for clothing. You’ll also get a quick history lesson, to show you how sewing has progressed over the years – particularly mending clothes.

Mend It Better Buttons

Buttons, snaps and zippers are among the notions that Kristin breaks down in an approachable, meaningful way. Gorgeous photography of vintage notions throughout this book pairs perfectly with the author’s sage advice. You’ll learn how to confidently tackle a split seam, a sweater snag and a torn buttonhole without tossing the garment.

Mend It Better Repurposed Mending Bag

Project tutorials, such as The Repurposed Mending Bag, are paired with the techniques as they are discussed. The idea of having a dedicated bag for mending is not lost on me, and would save my husband’s buttonless shirts from an endless pile of to-dos on the floor.

Mend It Better Hemline

Kristin and 21 contributors show the reader how to make an old garment dance again. Have you ever tossed a skirt that no longer fits? This clever project shows how to let down a hem by adding a patchwork border. This clever detail completely “makes” the skirt in a way that makes it hard to imagine the garment without it.

Mend It Better Rickrack Skirt Updo

Another favorite project in the book is the Rickrack Skirt Updo, meant to cover up a random spattering of ink spots. There are plenty of “why didn’t I think of that?” moments in this book.

Mend it Better is a visual reference that you will love to have around to help guide your sewing efforts. Chances are that this book will teach you something new and you’ll be inspired to revisit your wardrobe and give that old ______ a second chance. And on a side note, this book is a padded hardcover – the only book of it’s kind that I’ve ever held – and it’s just fun to hold.


Would you like to win a copy this book? Storey Publishing is giving a copy to one lucky reader!

  1. Enter to win by leaving a comment about your must-have sewing notion or tool.
  2. For an extra entry, “Like” Storey Publishing on Facebook and leave a second comment.

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, and we’ll choose a winner on Monday 3/12. Good luck!

Pleated Boxes Pillow: Join Rows

Did you check out Lesson One: Cut and Arrange Squares? You are welcome to join us at any time throughout the sew along, and I promise . . . you can do it!

Maybe you’ll use up your scraps to make a pillow that matches your favorite quilt, or work from a friend’s favorite colors and print to make a handmade gift. The sky is the limit!

We’ve loved seeing some of your fabric choices and patchwork squares come to life this weekend in the Craft Buds Flickr group.

Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along: Your Squares

Photos: 1. Janelle 2. Javadiva1 3. Bayeaston 4. Cheraldine73


And because it’s Monday, and you’ve got the whole week ahead of you, let’s focus on a short lesson today. It’s time to join together those rows! Cutting and stitching these rows should take you about 15 to 20 minutes, so it’s totally doable.

Join Together Rows

1. From the 18” edge of your fabric, cut three 3”x18” strips. Here’s the cutting diagram again. You should have already removed the 12 small squares from one end, so now you’ll cut the three strips below.

Cutting Diagram


2. Alternate background fabric strips with pieced rows. You’ll notice that my strips are a little longer than my pieced rows, but yours should line up just right.

Pin pieced rows to fabric strips, with the fabric’s right sides together.

Stitch together the pinned edges using a 1/4″ seam allowance. When you get to a patchwork box, make sure it lines up with the previous patchwork box, as shown in the photo below.

3. When all rows have been joined, press your pillow front and trim edges if needed.

Your patchwork block will measure approximately 18”x18”. Those solid rows you just added will be embellished with beautiful pleats in our next lesson!

And it’s that simple! Please join us again on Friday for an easy tutorial on adding the pleating to your pillow front. I can’t wait to share this part with you.

Share your fabric choices, in-progress pillows and finished sew along photos in our Flickr group. If you haven’t already, you may download your free PDF pattern here.

Craft Buds Pleated Boxes Pillow Sew Along


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