Piecing Together a Dresden Plate Quilt

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It was about this time last year that I took this picture. It was in the midst of Birmingham’s Snowpocalypse 2014, and with the office closed and roads a mess, I had nothing better to do than start a quilt. Now – more than a year later – I found the motivation to pick up where I left off with the hopes of finishing my first full-size quilt before the end of March.

The pattern is called the Dresden plate. (I also heard it be called the flower or floral plate.) The idea has been floating around in my head ever since I finished my last quilt (as my Pinterest board can attest.) Finally, I bit the bullet (a year ago) and purchased the template blocks and got started.

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Piecing this pattern is a two step process that involves a lot of ironing. Step one: cut out the pieces. I used the template, a rotary cutter and mat to cut out each piece. I then took the top of each piece (where the fabric comes to a point), folded over a 1/4 inch seam allowance and pressed the seams. Step two: sew pieces together in sections. Instead of sewing the ring together piece by piece, it is much easier to work in sections: sewing pieces into pairs – stop and iron – then pairs to quarters – stop and iron – quarters to halves – stop and iron – and finally 2 halves into 1 whole circle.

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With a plate completed, the next step is to applique it to a block of fabric. For my quilt, I cut each block to measure 15 x 15 inches.

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Now some tutorials will show you how to hand-applique the plate in place, but I decided to cheat and use heat n’ bond iron-on adhesive. I cut a piece of adhesive to be smaller than the plate, leaving the outer points untouched. (A downside of using iron-on adhesive is that it will make the fabric stiffer, but I find it so helpful in keeping the fabric in place.)

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After ironing the piece of adhesive to the plate, I peeled off the back side, placed the plate in the center of the block and ironed it in place.

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Next, I cut the center circle. Instead of pressing the seams, I decided to use the heat n’ bond to avoid frayed edges. (This may back fire on my one day, but for now, it makes this step super easy.) I simply ironed the circle in place.

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Finally, I hand stitched the outer edge and center circle to help secure everything in place. (Plus, I think the stitching enhances the overall look.)

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For my quilt, I need 35 of these blocks, and I have made 10 so far. So I have quite the feat in front of me. In the meantime, feel free to visit my Patchwork Pinterest board. (And remind me I cannot start a new quilt until I finish this one!)

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Smitten Kitchen’s Cinnamon Toast French Toast

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Last week, I came home from the library with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, a book that came highly recommended by a friend. These days, my day job keeps me well stocked in cookbooks, so when it comes to purchasing one myself, I like to test it out first. Based on a blog, this cookbook is wonderfully visual, and it lays flat (which I love in a cookbook). My first recipe to try was its Cinnamon Toast French Toast, and to put it simply, it was a winner!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • about 1-pound loaf white sandwich bread (I used 12 slices)
  • butter or margarine (to spread)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup and strawberries (for serving)

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My no. 2 reason for loving this reason (no. 1 being how delicious it turned out) is the fact that I can make most of it ahead of time. The night before I made the cinnamon toast.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Place the slices of bread in a single layer on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Spread butter on the top  of each slice of bread, and sprinkle with a spoonful of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Toast the trays of bread, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove for oven, and let cool.

Generously butter a 9- x 13-inch backing dish. Arrange the bread in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.

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The next morning, I let the pan come up to room temperature as I whisked together the milk, eggs, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl. I then poured it evenly over the cinnamon toast and let it sit for 15 minutes (to give the bread time to absorb the custard).

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Next, bake for 30 minutes, until golden and egg mixture looks firm. Cut into squares and serve.

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For garnishes, I went with something simple: sliced strawberries and warm syrup. I set out extra cinnamon-sugar, but I don’t think anyone went for it. (The recipe has enough sugar as it is.)

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The same weekend, I tried a recipe for Brownie Roll-Out Cookies that turned out equally delicious. So long story shot, the book is in my Amazon shopping cart (just wanting to qualify for free shipping)!

 

 

 

Applique Lake Lanier Pillow

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There is a point early on in a sewing project when you just know that the final product is going to be fantastic. This idea – a pillow with a map of the lake my parents live on – had been floating around in my head for months. And finally, back in December (yes, this is another overdue post) I finally put the plan into action. One day at work, I found a map online that I eventually used as my template. It was that early on – before I had even picked up a piece of fabric – that I knew in my heart this pillow was going to turn out awesome!

I think it turned out to be just that.

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I used the map I found online as a compass, pointing me in the direction I should take the project. The map’s size decided the dimensions, and its green outline inspired me to use layers of fabric.

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The pillow’s map has 3 layers of fabric. The first (though it may be hard to see in the pictures) is a layer of light blue tulle. The second layer is a dark denim material someone gave me as scraps. Using heat n’ bond iron-on adhesive, I cut out a rough outline of the map without the worry of fraying edges.

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Finally, the third piece is the most detailed. Again using heat ‘n bond iron-on adhesive, I pined the map to the fabric and cut out the map along the green border. (I thought if I cut any closer, some of those tiny coves would be crazy difficult to cut out.) This piece took awhile to cut because I went nice and slow. I didn’t want to make any mistakes.

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With the three layers made, I ironed the denim piece with the tulle underneath to the pillow. I then did the same with the light blue piece. With everything loosely attached, I used the embroidery foot on my sewing machine to sew everything down.

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With the map in place, I added a few details, embroidering the lake’s name and a small compass. I then attached the back piece, placing right sides together and sewing along the edge with a 3/4-inch seam allowance. Leaving a small hole, I stuffed the pillow with poly-fil, and hand sewed the hole closed.

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It’s been awhile since I used my embroidery foot with my sewing machine, and for me, it’s take a few minutes before I feel like I have the hang on it. But even in it’s imperfect moments, I love the free-form look of this sewing foot creates. For me, it just enhances the homemade quality.

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After attaching the lake map, I felt like the pillow still needed something extra. I knew I wanted to embroider the lake’s name, but the idea of the compass came to me at the last minute. It was the perfect finishing touch.

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Overall, this pillow is of great quality. I used canvas for the front of the pillow and a thick, blue cotton fabric for the back. Both pieces were in my collect of scrap fabric, so I don’t know about cost. But I do know the fabric choice helps make the pillow feels so sturdy.

DSC_0669The pillow now lives in my parents’ kitchen in a cute sitting area they created (instead of having a kitchen table). On a good winter day, you could stand up from this spot and see the lake through the windows. I couldn’t think of a better home.