Friday, April 4, 2014

Fresh from the Clothesline...Homemade Laundry Liquid

 Hey yall! Don't you just love freshly laundered quilts? Warm from the sun. We had a gorgeous spring day and I took the opportunity to wash my Scrappy Many Trips Around the World.

When I went to the laundry room I realized I was almost out of my favorite homemade laundry liquid. So I set about making a new batch and thought I would share the recipe. It is super simple to make and All Natural. Plus it is very economical!  Here is what you will need:

1/2 cup Borax ( I use Mule Team 20X)
1/2 cup Washing Soda ( This is different from Baking Soda but is also made by Arm & Hammer)
1 cup soap flakes ( You can use Zote Soap, Lux Flakes or Fels-Naptha. I personally do not like the smell of any of those. I would not recommend using Oil of Olay, Tone or any of those bar soaps that have alot of added ingredients. Stick to a natural, pure soap product. I like to use my homemade soap but all I have left  are some Oatmeal bars,and since I didn't want Oatmeal in my laundry , I used an old bar of Ivory. )
8 quarts of cool water
2 quarts warm water
2 pots ( I use a small, old stock pot and an old, large canning pot)
A potato peeler or grater
A Measuring Cup
Something to dip your liquid soap with ( I use a large plastic measuring cup)
A large Funnel ( I make mine out of soda bottles. Just cut off the top about where the wrapper starts)(Oh, and save the cap. You can put it back on your funnel to keep stuff from dripping everywhere :))
Wooden or plastic spoon
At least 3 large containers to store your detergent in.
And a hot pad to place the pot on when you remove it from the heat.

Start by grating your bar soap. I prefer to use a potato peeler instead of a grater. It's easier on my knuckles!  You will need 1 cup of grated soap.You made need to lightly pack the soap down . You want a full cup.I use the whole bar!

Put the 2 quarts of warm water in the smaller pot and heat over medium heat. Then slowly add your grated soap and keep stirring gently until the soap melts. I like to use a wooden spoon. You will see small bits of soap floating around, that is ok.

Remove from the heat. Now slowly add the 1/2 cup of Borax and the 1/2 cup of Washing Soda. Stir until it all dissolves.
Now, pour the other 8 quarts of cold water into the larger pot. Slowly add the hot liquid to the cool water. Keep stirring until it starts to thicken as it cools.

Using a funnel, fill your jugs to within a few inches of the top. (You will need room in your container to shake your detergent before using it.)  I use a large plastic measuring cup to scoop up the liquid instead of lifting the heavy pot. I also use a cut off Soda bottle as a funnel. It works great! 

 See how the mixture kinda thickens and clumps up.

Be sure to leave a little room in the top of your containers for shaking. I also have a small container handy that will hold the last little bit.

As it cools and settles, it will seperate a little from the extra water. That is fine. Just give it a good shake before using.

 You only need 1/2 cup per load!!! If you have extra dirty laundry, like I do sometimes after we have worked cattle all day, then you can use a full cup!

Now a couple of notes to mention:

You will NOT see suds in the washing machine. This does not make suds. And bubbles are NOT what cleans your laundry. Also, I don't have to use Downy! So that's another savings.

 If you want to add a scent like lemon, rose, lavender or whatever. You may add some using an essential oil. I like the smell of the Ivory or my homemade soaps, so I do not add anything. Plus I don't think my handsome farmer hubby dude wants to go around smellin' like a rose, (although I'd probaly prefer it)  Or you could seperate the liquid before pouring it in your jugs and add a few drops of an essential oil to a few quarts and just write "Smells good" on tha jug!  Or write "His" on one and "Hers" on tha other.

Also, depending on whether you have hard water or not, your whites may not appear as white as normal after a few washes. If so, then the next time you make a batch you can add 1/2 cup Oxy clean to the mix. I do not use the stuff and haven't had any problems. I like keeping it gentle enough to use on my quilts. If you have really stubborn stains, like a cow pattie, just pour a little on the nasty spot and let it sit a few minutes before washing!

If you have little ones around, I would not use a container that normally would hold a beverage item. They may think they can drink it. Instead use old Downy bottles or something of the sort and keep it put in a safe place like you normally would.

Cost Comparision: 1 to 2 cents per load! Yes .01 cents to .02 cents per load depending on how much you use! Most popular well known liquid detergents are approx. .45 cents to .52 cents per load!

The savings alone should make your laundry smell a little sweeter! Plus you know that you are helping to do your part to keep this world a safer, greener place to live!

Well, I hope that yall have enjoyed this little tutorial on how to make Liquid Laundry Detergent! We are expecting rain tomorrow, but I can't wait until the next sunny day to launder a few more quilts!
Thank yall for stopping by! I hope that Spring is making an appearance in your neck of the woods.
  I would love to give a shout out to a few of my newest friends and followers:
Mara  and lomaquilts! Welcome to the farm ladies! I am so happy to have yall plowing along with me!
Have fun yall! Enjoy makin the bubblies!
xo jan

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses

 Lucy Maria Boston (1892-1990) made her first patchworks in 1938 in Cambridge. They were rosettes of large regular hexagons to be used as a curtain and a sofa cover. Not long afterward she moved to The Manor, Hemingford Grey. She was an artist and loved music and her gardens. She was most active with her patchworks when she was in her eighties. Her earliest patchworks were sewn 20 stitches to the inch! She created over 20 Patchworks in her life and became a well known author of a series of children's books  in her 60's. As her eyes failed her in her latter years, children from the village would come and sit at her feet and thread needles for her. When speaking of Patchworks Lucy described them " They ought to be almost like reading poetry, going from one word to the next and making a verse ! " Lucy Boston 1980.
   To me, I think she was remarkable. I would have loved to sit with her and sew a few stitches. After her death in 1990, her beloved Patchworks started gaining popularity. Her daughter in law, Diana Boston, still resides at The Manor, Hemingford Grey. The house and garden are open to the public by appointment and they do hold special events throughout the year. Here is a link to their giftshop.  Diana Boston published "The Patchworks of Lucy Boston" in 1995 and it is available for purchase through Diana at the gift shop and the book has beautiful photographs of some of the most extraordinary patchworks I have ever seen. It is not a pattern book but has lovely photographs and descriptions of the different Patchworks . I would highly recommend Diana's book. Diana also has an active Facebook page Here for The Manor. ( I would love for you to visit her FB page and tell her I said hello! She is extremely nice!) 
   It is unclear exactly when Lucy Boston made The Patchwork of The Crosses but it is believed to have been during the 1950's. She would have been in her sixties. The Patchwork measures 88"x 99". She used 1" long hexagons (as they were called then) or honeycombs and 1" squares. In her Patchwork, there are 56 blocks made of 24  1" honeycombs and these are surrounded by 24 -1" creamy white honeycombs. The sashings are 1" squares turned on point and she often fussy cut the 1" squares that she joined and used in the cornerstones. She also reused many of the same fabrics in different blocks.The lining is a floral lawn joined across the middle. Oh, how I would love to go to The Manor Hemingford Grey, meet Diana  and walk amongst Lucy's roses and Patchworks! I have fallen for these sweet little blocks.
 I finished my block from the other day and decided to put the pink in the outside corners. Thank you to everyone that offered their advice here on my blog and all the wonderful comments on facebook.

I was initially concerned about losing the corners in the background if I put the white honeycombs in the corners. But the more I played around with the block, I forgot about corners or backgrounds or balance. I just simply like the white cross that appeared when I used this layout. It reminds me of Easter. A time that I cherish.  I can't wait to play around with this fabric some more.There are several more options for fussy cutting this stripe.And in another colorway too.

I have had a lot of questions about these blocks. So I thought I would try to answer some of those here and show how I make this block. There is no perfect way to make this block. This is just how I do it. You have to adjust and do it however you are comfortable with.
Now the block above has a 4,4,8,8 layout. That is:
4 - center
4- green with rose
8- white
8- raspberry
There are many, many layouts. Sometimes I already know how I want to layout the block, and sometimes I just make honeycombs and play around with them.
 I start with selecting my main fabric to fussy cut and then pick some coordinating fabrics: I usually have a solid or a fabric that reads as a solid and different scale prints.

I start by fussy cutting my center. I use an index card and trace a honeycomb on it and cut it out to preview the fabric. The second line is the seam allowance. I also use an acrylic template  from Paper It has a 3/8" seam allowance which I love. When fussy cutting try to look for a spot on the print that is easily identified so you can align back up with that spot on each honeycomb. I am using the little blue berries to the right and left of the roses in this print and the stem. Now you can fussy cut several different ways. You could use a marking pen or pencil and trace on the inside of this template. Just be sure to use something that will disappear or wash out even though this is actually your seam line. 
Or just use the acrylic template. It has a frosted seamline that you can use as a guide for fussy cutting, then trace around the outside.  Cut them out on the traced outside line. Then turn them over.

Now, I align my paper template underneath the acrylic template on the frosted seamline and on top of the back of the honeycomb. This way I know that the front is lined up where it needs to be.

Gently lift off the acrylic and pin through the hole in the paper template and through the fabric only. I use a short applique pin. Now there are many ways to do all these steps. Do whatever you are comfortable with. There are no English Paper Piecing Police that I know of, so just have fun and don't worry about if you are doing it right or wrong. :) I usually start on one side and I do not sew through the papers,
I do not use pins to hold the seam allowances,
I do not use glue,
I do not use paper clips, 
or Clover clips or anything. I simply fold the fabric over the paper template along one side and finger squeeze  or finger press it.
Now take a small whip stitch through the fabric only. Make sure you grab the bottom fabric. ( excuse the farmers wife's hands)

 Fold your points nice and sharp. Sometimes I use the tip of my needle to pull the bottom fabric tight under the top fabric.Whip stitch again. I just put one whip stitch. 
Keep going around, fold down the next side and then fold again then whip stitch.

It doesn't matter what type of thread or even what color to me. It doesn't matter if there are little puckers on the back. 
 LEAVE THE PAPERS IN YOUR HONEYCOMBS. I just wanted to show you the picture below so you can see why I like sewing mine this way: Even with the papers out, they stay this way.The seam allowances do not hang down. I haven't even pressed this. Also You leave the threads in. You do not have to remove the basting threads. BUT LEAVE YOUR PAPERS IN TO SEW THE HONEYCOMBS TOGETHER. I just took this one out to show you how it stays together.!

Now, make the rest of your honeycombs: (See how I pin)

Now let's sew them together. Below is the manner in which I sew them together. Do what ever is comfortable for you. 
Sew seam #1. I put right sides together and sew with small stitches picking up two or three threads of fabric.
Sew seam #2
Sew Seam #3 all the way across.

Now I start sewing and just add honeycombs as I go around. (#4)  Right sides facing each other. I do not worry about using different colors of thread. I like to do it this way to save starting and stopping threads so much. I start and end up at the same spot. You will be bending your papers to line up the honeycombs. Thats ok it won't hurt them.

Sew all the way around attaching honeycombs to the center.
Now go back and sew the side seams. (#5)

Now add the outer honeycombs. These are in sets of 2. (#6)

Now sew your side seams between these pairs. (#7)

Now you are done! ( Well mines not for the demo! lol!)

Here is what the back of one looks like:

Now, I reuse my papers. You can take out the 8 in the center only. Leave the papers in the ones on the outside so that you can have them in when sewing them to the surrounding honeycombs. If you are appliqueing the block onto something then you could take out all the papers. I use a regular hole puncher and put a hole in the center of the paper templates for easy removal and for pinning my fabrics. You can use a stiletto, or chop stick or whatever for pulling out the papers: I gently run the chopstick in, grab the paper between my thumb and the chopstick and gently pull the paper template out.

Now this is one way to do fussy cutting and make your blocks. But I wanted to mention that sometimes your center may be more than four blocks to include the entire fussy cut feature.

This block is an 8,8,8, layout. The center took 8 fussy cut honeycombs to include all the garland that I wanted to include. I could have just had the roses as the center, but I loved the garland. It was definitely harder to do and most certainly doesn't completely line up ( my first attempt at this) but I love it anyway. I have this same print in pink and light blue so I will get more practice fussy cutting. (No, I am not mixing the red,white and blue blocks with these other blocks, I am totally obsessed and working on two different POTC's at the same time lol)
 I hope this helps to answer some of the questions that yall may have. I am really enjoying these blocks so much. I have been having computer trouble for the last few days. I removed three viruses but now it is running very very very slow! Let me know if you have any questions and I will get back to you as soon as I can. 
 Now, I would love to give a very warm welcome to two of my latest followers and friends:
Raewyn  of Love to Stitch and Crow Calling Woman! Welcome to the farm ladies! I am so happy to have yall. Feel free to grab my tractor from the side bar and plow along with us!
 Have fun yall! Go out and make something!
xo jan

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lucy Boston Blocks and Rail road ties

 Hey yall! I hope everyone had a great first day of Spring! We did in North Georgia. Beautiful warm weather and daffodils, forsynthia and Bradford Pear trees all blooming! Things have been rolling right along here on the farm with lots of new baby calves. I haven't had much time at my machine but I have finished my bee blocks for the month and got those in the mail . Plus I have been working on a few more Lucy Boston Blocks :
"Heaven and Earth"
I love this fabric. It is "Favorite Things" by Gerri Robinson and the brown is from a group of Civil War solids that the Fat  Quarter Shop matched up for me a while back. "Favorite Things" came from The Fat Quarter Shop as well.

  This next block I am undecided which layout I like best.
Option 1:

Option 2:

I am leaning toward Option 1.  These blocks are for a 2nd more scrappy Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses quilt than the red, white and blue that I have shared before. I am not sure about background, but it will probaly be a light neutral. That is why I think I like Option 1 best. I think if I put the white honeycombs on the corners they may get more lost on the background than if I had the raspberry color on the corners.
 What do yall think? Option 1 or Option 2?  This fabric is "Rosemont" and from the Fat Quarter Shop as well. I have this same fabric in a different colorway. I love playing with these stripes and fussy cutting. I found a great container for carrying around all my Lucy Boston stuff.
 It is a casserole or cake carrier. I really like it. Especially because I got it at a rummage sale for 2 bucks!
I put two long skinny baskets that will slide back and forth across the edge of the carrier and a larger one in the middle for the fabric etc.
Under the baskets I have my cutting mat and enough room to store completed blocks.
I cut a piece of cardboard to lay over the baskets so I would have a work / cutting table. It fits over the whole thing and inside the lid (contrary to this picture). I try to have several blocks cut out and ready to sew or at least have enough fabric with me to make one.
 We have been busy hauling Cross ties from the railroad again:
We will use these as fence posts. We have also been hauling hay! Someone decided they had too much and wanted to clean out their barn before hay season starts so we bought it all at a great price. We will feed hay  until we can get some new pastures fenced off and grass growing! Cows are selling at very good prices but we are trying to hold onto all of our mama cows and some of the young heifers. Hopefully this spring/summer we will get the pastures ready and have plenty of room for them. So I see ALOT of work ahead of us this summer.
I will definitely be taking my Lucy Boston kit around with me.
 And of course my hard working buddy,  Missy!
Well, normally she's hard at work!
Enjoy this weather yall!. We are suppose to have another round of cold weather moving in after today. Temperatures will be back down to below freezing a few nights next week!
Have a great weekend!
xo jan
Linking up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Ruffle Hop winner is.........

Well I didn't pull a number out of St Paddy's hat, but I did use Mr Random to pick us a winner of

The Windsor Lane jelly roll and Easter Ribbon . The winner is:

Number 37 is: Michele TMarch 12, 2014 at 9:13 AM
Lily and Missy are a hoot with the ruffly scarf... OMG!! Adorable!!! You must have so much fun on your farm!! Thanks for the fun post and sharing in the hop!
Congratulations Michele T! I will be emailing you for your mailing address! And Thank you to everyone for their fun and sweet comments. It is always so much fun to share happenings around the farm and  Miss Lily was so sweet to pose for those pictures for me! 
I hope everyone enjoyed National Quilting Day yesterday and had the opportunity to do a little stitching.

I did not get to sew any but I did get to knit a little:

This is Rowan-Kaffee Fassett yarn from a couple of years ago. I forget the color name. It is Mohair and silk and lighter than one of Lily's feathers! I had started this scarf awhile back when that handsome farmer hubby dude got hurt in the corn picker and I needed something mindless to keep my hands busy and my heart still.
Well, I found it smooshed down in a bag that I had carried to the hospital. I had totally forgotten about it. You can see that the skein of yarn is smooshed, but it has been knitting up beautifully. Hopefully I will have it finished pretty soon. It will be the perfect lightweight spring scarf. I love the rich and vibrant colors.

I hope everyone has a fun and sweet St. Patrick's day. My daughter is very good at finding four leafed clovers! She just looks down and picks one ! I can search until my neck hurts and never find one!
Have a great day yall! And good luck hunting for those four leafed clovers!

  xo jan

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Lorax finish!.........

Yay! My Lorax quilt has been completed, delivered,squealed over, hugged on and slept under!  YES!

I was pretty nervous about making this quilt on commission. I am not sure if I enjoy the process of sewing on commission. The result of not only being compensated for the finished quilt but the enjoyment of the little one that received it, made it so worth it!
It measures 56x78. The mom wanted it for her little girl that was being moved to her first BIG girl bed!
She said Mission Accomplished!
I used a polka dot for the backing and the the Stripe for the binding.
I love the binding! I machine stitched it to the back and then machine stitched it to the front per the customers request!
I friend of mine quilted it on her long arm machine! I LOVE her quilting. This is a pantograph. I really like how the swirls look with the "Truffala" prints on the fabrics.
I used Aurifil #2024 50 wt for the piecing and Aurifil# 2735 50 wt. for the binding. The batting is Warm n'White.
I had a little bit of the backing fabric leftover so I made a matching pillow case. I like to fold the quilt and put it inside of the pillow case for presentation. The pillow case also makes for good storage of the quilt when not being used. I shipped it that way plus wrapped it all in tissue paper and tied with a ribbon. I then put it all inside a large plastic bag just in case the box became damaged during shipping.
This quilt was so fun to make. I have made several smaller Lorax quilts in the past with just nine of the picture panels using my own pattern. So I just enlarged my pattern to utilize 16 of the panels to reach the size my customer requested.
I am glad that the recipient loves it! I had purchased my fabrics in the bright colorway from The Fat Quarter Shop! They actually have a Quilt Kit using The Lorax Fabrics in the earth tone colorway in a very cute Churn Dash pattern on clearance! Plus they have a couple of quilt patterns for The Lorax available.
   I am so happy to have a Friday finish to share even if I did finish it last week! I am linking up with the following fun and fabulous linky parties:
Have fun yall! I hope you get some sewing time this weekend! And if you haven't entered my giveaway, you my do so HERE! You have until Sunday at midnight EST to enter!
xo jan