Felt Flowers Button Snake

Button Snake Stack

This is a quick tutorial for a “button snake” toy to help kits with their buttoning skills. In case the word “snake” sets fear in the heart of your child or yourself, try calling it a button caterpillar!

For supplies, you’ll need felt scraps in a variety of colors, two buttons (1-inch and 1.5-inch across), about 18 inches of grosgrain or thick ribbon, scissors, a needle and thread. I used a die cutter to cut the felt flower shapes and some nail polish to secure the buttons and thread. I also created this project entirely with supplies from my stash, so it can be very inexpensive.

Button Snake Supplies

First, cut out several squares of felt in a rainbow of colors. I used 16 colors, but you can adapt this pattern to use whatever you have on hand. Use scissors and a circular template (like a drinking glass) to trace and cut circles out of felt. Instead of cutting circles, I used my Accuquilt GO! Baby and the Rose of Sharon die to cut out the largest size of felt flowers, which are about 3-inches in diameter.

Felt Flowers

Use your scissors to cut a slit in the middle of each felt shape, large enough for the smaller button to go through easily (but not the larger button). I cut my slits about one inch wide.

Button Hole

Next, hand sew the smaller button onto the top side of your ribbon end, repeating on the other end with the larger button. Secure button several times with your needle and thread, so the buttons don’t pop off with frequent use.

Hand-sew buttons to ribbon

I used a bit of nail polish (you can use clear if you’ve got it) to paint the thread to the back of each button as an extra measure of security. Make sure to keep a close eye on your kids when using this toy, so they don’t put anything harmful in their mouths.

Nail Polish

Note: If you are worried about buttons being unsafe for your children, you can leave off the buttons entirely and just sew a circle of felt perpendicular the bottom of the ribbon (example here) to use as a stopper for all of the other felt shapes.

Button Snake

Once the buttons are secure, use the smaller button to guide each flower onto the ribbon. The larger button will act as your stopper. Young kids can be engaged for hours with this simple toy, as they practice putting on and taking off the felt flowers.

Button Snake Finished

It’s also small enough to stash with you in your toddler’s “busy bag” to take in the car, the waiting room or anywhere they need to be entertained!

Dahlia and the Ribbon SnakeDahlia and the Button Snake (Thanks Suzy!)

If you make this or any of our tutorials, we’d love to see them! Just comment with the link or add the photos to the Craft Buds Flickr group.

Book Review: Modern Basics

The Sewing Summit Did you sign up for The Sewing Summit before it sold out? I am excited to attend in October, and feel lucky to have gotten a ticket!

The first Sewing Summit was founded by sewing bloggers Amy Ellis and Erin Singleton. Although Amy will be teaching and not organizing this year’s event, the Sewing Summit’s return to Salt Lake City is highly anticipated as shown by the event selling out in just 10 hours!

Book Review: Modern Basics

In case you haven’t read it, I wanted to share a bit of Amy’s book Modern Basics: Easy Quilts to Fit Your Budget, Space and Style (Martingale & Co). The book has 14 quilt patterns that major on squares, strips and rectangles. Even the triangles on the cover quilt are approachable for beginners.

There’s also a Quiltmaking Basics chapter that talks about tools, block construction, squaring up quilt blocks, adding borders, basting, machine quilting, and binding. If I would have had this book when I made my first quilt, the section on bindings would have been so helpful!

Modern Basics book: Basic Ease quilt

“Basic Ease” is the first pattern in the book, and it is constructed from just 30 basic quilt blocks, making it suitable for beginners. Patterns are accompanied by full-color illustrations to help with piecing blocks and strips. “Tumbling Cubes” is another beginner friendly quilt design with squares that seem to float randomly across the quilt top. But again, one simple block can be repeated for stunning results.

Modern Basics book: 1,2,3! quilt

“1, 2, 3!” shows a simple way to display great fabrics. Again, a single block design is flipped and pieced in alternating colors, and the resulting quilt is one of my favorites in the book. Plus, who can go wrong with Hope Valley?

Modern Basics book: Basic Puzzle quilt

“Basic Puzzle” offers another clean and modern design, with pieced rows of solid fabric making up the quilt top. Amy’s instructions paired with the illustrations are clear and easy to understand. If I make a quilt from this book (so many quilts, so little time!), I’m dying to try my hand at this one.

Amy also hosts the bi-annual Blogger’s Quilt Festival, which ramps back up on May 18, 2012. Make sure to check out Amy’s blog for updates on the free event for quilting bloggers, and the new button when it’s available.

Blogger's Quilt Festival

A question for quilters: Think back to your first quilt. What was the trickiest part of putting it together, that you wish you’d known more about?

Springtime Crafting: Fresh Picks for 4.1.12

It’s springtime again, and we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss these tutorials before Easter is here!

Tulip Petal Sun Hat Pattern and Tutorial

Flower Power: The Cottage Mama shares a tutorial for her adorable Tulip Petal Sun Hat. Download the free pattern, grab one yard of fabric, and you’ll be on your way to making this cute sun shield.

Peeps Bunny Bunting Tutorial

Army of Cuteness: Dana Made It shares her sugary sweet Peeps Bunny Bunting tutorial. How cute would this be cute for an Easter dinner or baby shower?

Here are some oldies but goodies from Craft Buds:

My Peeps Shirt with Free Printables

My Peeps Shirt with Free Printables

Easy Bunny No-Bakes

Easy Bunny No-Bakes

Dying Easter Eggs with Rubber Cement

Dying Easter Eggs with Rubber Cement

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.

Prep

  • 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.

Cook

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.

Chill

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.

Freeze

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.

 

Giveaway

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 random.org and announced on this post. Congratulations to comment #14, Cynthia!

 

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