Sunday, March 26, 2017

Breanna Bunny

Using our hands to create for the special people in our lives, is the greatest gift of all and seeing their face when they receive it, swells our hearts with pride. There's always self satisfaction when you complete a project but nothing compares to watching the joy your handmade gifts brings to others.
I was browsing Pinterest the other day, looking for something Easter inspired to crochet for a gift and I found an adorable bunny pattern which I just had to make. Here's my version of the Breanna Bunny from LeeLee Knits:
I don't usually make softies or toys but this little pattern was too cute not to try and I had a special some "bunny" in mind to gift it to. I struggle with toys because I always doubt myself on how much stuffing is enough but I didn't let this deter me and I got started on my own version of Breanna. Isn't she adorable? And, she's heaps of fun to crochet too :)
She's cuddly and floppy (probably due to me and my stuffing issues) and she finishes at 9" high so she is only little. The pattern is well written, with clear instructions and very easy to follow; if you know how to SC and SC2tog then your pretty much good to go! I strongly suggest using stitch markers though, if you have them, because your working in rounds and if your easily distracted (like me) losing your place can be frustrating.
She's adorable from head to foot and how cute is that little tail? I know the special some "bunny" I'm gifting her to, will absolutely love Breanna :) She's going to be hard to part with so it looks like a trip to the wool shop for some more supplies so I can make one for me too. In the meantime, I'm popping Breanna in a basket with some chocolate eggs and she's all ready to go off to her new home.
If you have a special some "bunny" who would love a handmade gift this Easter, then you can find the free pattern on the LeeLee Knits blog HERE. She has lots of lovely crochet and knitting patterns for kids and newborns, so its well worth a visit.
Breanna the bunny is a great weekend project and she sure will bring a smile to the face of her lucky recipient. I hope you have some "bunny" special in your life too, who will treasure this gift made by you with lots of love ♥
Happy crocheting :)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ma Petite Mini Quilt + Your Free April 2017 Calendar

How are your Easter preparations going? It won't be long and the Easter Bunny will be paying us all a visit and I'm almost ready. I'm really looking forward to this upcoming holiday because it means the end of this first school term as well. This term has been extremely busy with so much going on, so we are ready to enjoy a break and recuperate ready for term two. They seem to cram everything into the first term to take advantage of the good weather, I think, but its very tiring for the kids and the mums.
While we patiently wait for these holidays, its time for my new monthly mini and your free April 2017 Calendar. I've already shown you the gorgeous fabrics I used in a previous post, so now without further ado, here's my new mini quilt pattern, the very stunning, Ma Petite:
I'm soooooo excited to share this mini quilt with you. As you already know I love sampler quilts and it really was only a matter of time before I decided to squeeze as many sampler blocks as I could into a quilt under 20" square :) I'm so thrilled with this little quilt! The fabrics were perfect for this design and they were great to work with; showcasing those tiny blocks oh so well. I love each and every little block in this quilt and I think they look even cuter in miniature.
My favorite quilt to snuggle under is my Chatelaine sampler (you can read all about it HERE) and now I have this gorgeous mini sampler to hang in the studio as well, where I can admire it while I sew.
The sampler blocks all finish at 3" square and I selected thirteen simple but pretty blocks with most of them constructed using either a nine or four patch grid. There is one paper pieced block (the little pink and blue double pinwheel) but I also included a (traditionally pieced) optional pinwheel block for you to substitute if paper piecing isn't your thing. If you do include the FPP block you could always use the optional block as a quilt label if you like.
I decided on plain white sashing and setting triangles for this one because I really wanted those little blocks to pop. The sashing is tiny (finishes at 1/2") but I've eliminated cornerstones etc. to make it quicker and easier to piece. So this means the lengths of the sashing strips between the rows, are cut larger than required and then trimmed when the quilt top is together. Not the most conventional way to piece, but for this size quilt it eliminates working with teeny tiny cornerstones and triangles and matching lots of seams. The pattern will talk you through this method and I'm always available to help if you get stuck, so send me an email.
Ma Petite is French for "my little one" or "my little" and I think it suits this mini sampler quilt perfectly. It looks so cute with its big sister, my Chatelaine sampler doesn't it? I have used a couple of the same blocks in both quilts but the majority of them are exclusive to this mini quilt pattern.
I finished the quilt with a simple pieced border and as I have mentioned before, on point quilts always finish at an odd size so be prepared to ease these borders on just a teeny little bit. If that's not for you, then add a plain coloured border instead, it will look just as lovely and you might feel more comfortable attaching it.
I quilted Ma Petite with the same all over flower design I used for my Chatelaine quilt and I chose that gorgeous red and white pinstripe binding to finish it off.
The best part about this mini, is that after you have made your little quilt and its hanging proudly on the wall, the pattern will become a useful reference library of 3" block patterns which you can use in other projects as well; either small gifts or border elements or as multiples for cushion fronts etc.
The PDF pattern includes full step by step instructions, tips and diagrams to help with ease of construction. I've also included a colouring sheet to help you plan your mini quilt prior to sewing and optional instructions for adding a hanging sleeve or corner hangers to the back of your quilt.
If you would like to make your own Ma Petite mini quilt, from today until the end of April 2017, PDF patterns will be available at the introductory price of $4.95 (AU) in my Big Cartel shop, HERE.
Or if you prefer an instant download, PDF patterns are also available in my Etsy shop, HERE.
I also have your free April 2017 calendar featuring the gorgeous Ma Petite:

You can download and print your free calendar by visiting HERE.
I hope you love Ma Petite as much as I do. Its a gorgeous mini quilt with some fun little blocks to try and it looks fantastic hanging in my studio. Its one of those quilts that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy when you see it and it definitely brightens my day and my studio. I love it ♥
Happy sewing :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Free Tutorial- Easter Baskets (Quick and Easy)

For me, half the fun of any special occasion is setting the table. I love to be creative with my place settings but nothing over the top; I find that something fun and personal always works best. I thought I'd share a little tutorial of what I have made for this years Good Friday lunch and I think you going to love these quick and easy Easter Baskets:
Aren't these cute? They are super easy to make and all you need are some patty pan papers, filigree cupcake wrappers, cardstock, ribbon, toothpicks and tape (most of which we all have in our craft cupboards). To personalise mine for place settings, I made some little name tags using a lettering stamp pad and I've filled the baskets with small chocolate eggs and basket grass.
I think they will look lovely on the table and I know my kids will love them (and the adults too). They would also make sweet little gift baskets for neighbours, friends or teachers and you could either omit the name tag or write "Happy Easter" on the tags instead.
So here's a quick tutorial on how I made my Easter Baskets:
They don't take long to make so you can make a whole batch of them quite quickly. Grab your supplies, grab the kids (or grandkids) and craft the afternoon away, together :) Be creative with them and fill them however you like; I used chocolate eggs but you might prefer some home baked goodies or some styrofoam or hand dyed eggs.
I love how they turned out and I finally found a use for those filigree cupcake wrappers I picked up at the discount store months ago :) I had intended to use them for cupcakes but they were stored in the cupboard and forgotten. I think this may have been the project I was saving them for.
I hope you have fun and enjoy making your own Easter Baskets :)
Happy crafting :)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Chocolate Roulade

It's that wonderful time of year, when the stores are filled with Easter Eggs in every shape, size and flavour.  My favorite is the Humpty Dumpty egg, and not because of the chocolate egg but the yummy smarties inside; I love them. I'm not a huge chocolate eater but I do love to cook with it and today I have a delicious Chocolate Roulade recipe to share with you.
Trust me, this is as yummy as it looks.  The sponge is light and airy and speckled with a generous amount of grated dark chocolate. Its filled with raspberry jam and whipped cream and then rolled and decorated. Its seriously divine and very quick and easy to make.
I know I've mentioned this before, but when cooking with chocolate, look for the best chocolate your budget allows and don't forget to check out the health food stores, they have a wonderful range of dark chocolates, which are perfect for baking and eating :) And because you are not using a lot in this recipe (80g) you can splurge a little and save the remainder for future cooking.
This roulade is rolled along the long side of the cake and because I like a lot of filling, it can be hard to roll perfectly; I never endeavour for perfection when rolling, as long as it looks and tastes amazing, I'm good! Here are a few tips to help you roll your roulade and prevent the cake from splitting or cracking:
  • As soon as the cake is out of the oven, remove it from the tin and lie it face down on a fresh sheet of baking paper which has been sprinkled with caster sugar. Remove the baking paper from the bottom of the cake.
  • Trim all four edges and score along one long side, about 2.5cm (1") from the edge, being careful not to slice through the cake.
  • With the scored side nearest to you and using the baking paper to help, roll the cake two or three times as tightly as you can.
  • Leave the cake rolled in the baking paper and when almost cool, unwrap and unroll the cake carefully before spreading on your filling. 
  • Re roll the cake once your happy with the filling, using the baking paper to help support the cake as you roll, before lifting it from the paper and placing your roulade on a serving dish.
I fill mine with raspberry jam and whipped cream but you could also fill it with fresh berries or a chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse or a lovely hazelnut cream depending on how decadent you like your roulade. This classic combination has always been a favorite with my kids so I tend to stick with it but I have made it once with some hazelnut cream and it was delicious.
To decorate, I like to pipe some whipped cream along the top of the roulade and sprinkle it with some chocolate shavings or fresh raspberries (if I have them on hand). However you choose to decorate your roulade, it will look stunning in the centre of your table and your guests will enjoy every delicious mouthful :)
Its a great little recipe to have in your files and you only need a few basic ingredients, most of which you may have on hand in the pantry and the fridge. 
If you would like to try my Chocolate Roulade recipe, you can download the file HERE or right click on the picture below and save to your computer for later.
I hope you enjoy this delicious Chocolate Roulade as much as we do. Its a great way to enjoy chocolate and it's something a little different to serve for Easter or any special occasion really. Enjoy!
Happy baking :)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Fat Quarter Bundle- Sweet Orchard

I'm currently sewing my April mini quilt which is due for release later in the month. I thought you might like to see the fabrics I'm using for this one, because they are simply gorgeous.
This is "Sweet Orchard" by Sedef Imer of Down Grapevine Lane and I purchased this fat quarter bundle from the designer herself, which is always lovely. You may have seen them before but I wanted to share them with you anyway and also give you a little sneak peek of my new mini.
I love these colours, especially the gorgeous blues, pinks, grays and reds. I tend to judge fabric ranges by the tone of the blue (or aqua) fabric. If the blue appeals to me then I know I want to work with the range (just my idiosyncrasy). The pinks are gorgeous as well but I think what really sold me on this bundle was the pinstripe fabrics as they will be perfect for bindings.
They're beautiful fabrics to work with and they are a match made in heaven for my new mini quilt design.  This little sneak peek might give you a clue as to what I've designed but if not, I assure you....its worth waiting for the full reveal :)
I've had this mini planned in my design book for quite sometime and I think I've subconsciously delayed making it so I could use these fabrics. I am thrilled with how its looking so I'm glad I waited.
The fat quarter bundle contains three panels of patchwork squares and at first I wasn't sure how or if, I would use them. As they add more fabric choices to the range, I cut them up first and sewed my mini primarily using these panels; it feels like a bonus quilt really because I've hardly touched the rest of the bundle.
My mini quilt top in now together, basted and ready to quilt. It is gorgeous and I can't wait to share it with you later in the month. If your interested in this fabric range, you can find fat quarter bundles/fat eight bundles in Sedef's Etsy shop HERE.
I rarely buy fabric as I'm committed to sewing from my stash, but when I do treat myself it has to be a range which is pretty special and "Sweet Orchard" is as special as it gets :)
Happy sewing :)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Pear & Custard Cake

I promised you a recipe to try for Earth Hour and although I don't need an excuse to bake, I'm looking forward to that "technology free" hour together so I can make this Pear & Custard Cake:
This cake is just beautiful and its simply baked with lots of love ♥ It all goes together quickly and its easily adaptable if your don't have a tin of pears on hand. I have made it before with peaches and with apricots and both times, it was just as lovely.
I'm not really sure where I first found this recipe but its written in my recipe book, in my half legible shorthand, so I'm assuming I wrote it out while watching one of my cooking shows. I can't credit the source for this amazing cake but I do mentally thank them every time I bake it :)
The cake is light and moist, full of tiny bites of succulent pear and the centre is laden with smooth, creamy custard, making it pretty special. It's not overly sweet but there is a lovely hit of vanilla, which I love.
Its perfect for any occasion really and just for the record; kids love it so if you send it school for an event, the plate comes home empty and the teacher will ask you for the recipe.
There's no need for bells and whistles with this cake, just give it a generous sprinkling of icing sugar and serve. It makes it the perfect cake to bake for school fetes or picnics or if you need a plate to take to a friends house to share with coffee.
If you would like to try this lovely Pear & Custard Cake, you can download the recipe HERE or right click on the image below and save to your computer for later.
So that's what we will be having this Earth Hour. I'm pretty sure we are playing Monopoly and seriously, I always choose the THIMBLE. I'm crushed they are replacing this iconic game piece with something else. So sad :(
Happy baking :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Incandescence- Free Candle Mat Patterns

On March 25, the WWF is celebrating 10 years of Earth Hour. Beginning in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour has grown and united the world as the biggest movement for climate change. Our family has participated every year, except one and to encourage others to join in, I've designed some pretty and scrappy candle mats for you to sew.
For those who may not know, Earth Hour is simply switching off lights, TV's, computers etc for one hour and doing your bit to ensure a better world for our children and grandchildren. Make some snacks and fill the house with beautiful incandescent light (candles) and reconnect with the family the old fashioned way. The hour goes by really quickly and we tend to continue longer, because its fun and a great way to spend a Saturday night :)
Spend your hour playing cards or board games, looking through old photo albums, reading aloud to the kids or head outside and enjoy the beauty of the night sky. However you choose to spend it, spend it with those you love ♥
The free candle mat pattern includes two versions; one with a scrappy centre and one with a solid/plain centre. Both are framed with a simple border and as this type of border tends to distort as you sew, I have included both a FPP option and a pieced option (individual square in square blocks) to help with accuracy and ease of piecing. Choose whichever option suits you best.
I chose a mix of my Bonnie and Camille scraps for my candle mats. The one on the left has been teamed with a gorgeous light grey Essex linen but consider showcasing one of your favorite large prints or a colourful solid instead. The mats are quick and easy to sew and they are a great way to display some pretty candles or oil burners etc. 
(Important: the candle mats are for decorative purposes only. Always use a candle holder specifically designed for candle use and never leave your candles unattended or within reach of children/pets.)
I love sewing scrappy projects and these candle mats are a great way to use up any leftover pieces of Jelly Rolls or Charm squares. I may not have made a huge dent in my scraps bins but it always makes me happy to find forever homes for orphaned pieces of fabrics from other projects.
The free patterns includes full instructions and diagrams etc. for both candle mats and I have also included colouring sheets to help with fabric/colour placement prior to sewing.
To download your free Incandescence pattern, just visit HERE.
I also have a section on Earth Hour in the very first ezine I published a few years ago:

If your interested in sewing any of these projects you can purchase a copy of my ezine HERE. Also included in this issue are some lovely projects for St Patrick's Day, Easter and Valentines Day, so its good value and a fun ezine packed with lots of ideas.
I'll be back very soon with the yummy recipe I'm baking for our family this Earth Hour as we enjoy a night "switched off" from technology and "switched on" to family time :). . 
Until then, happy sewing :)
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