Thursday, September 26, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate chai fudge

When I get into mischief around here, it isn't always quilty.  Fall puts me in the mood to be in the kitchen baking, and today was the perfect day to do that.

The last two years, my girls have participated in the Creative Kids competition at the Washington State Spring Fair.  They love seeing their work on display at the fair, especially when they have been awarded ribbons.  One of our favorite contests is the Seattle Fudge Parent-Child Candy Contest.  The first year,  my eldest daughter won second place with her chocolate strawberry fudge, filled with fresh strawberries.  This year, not to be outdone, her younger sister won second place for her chocolate chai fudge.

I know this time of year many people start drooling over the pumpkin recipes, and I am no different.  But when I think of fall, I think of curling up on the couch with some needlework, a favorite show, and a chai latte.  So I thought I would whip up a batch today to send to the front desk crew at the girls' school, and share the recipe with you as well.

Chocolate Chai Fudge

Milk Chocolate Chai Fudge
3/4 cup salted butter
3 cups sugar
5-6 TBS powdered chai latte mix
5 oz. evaporated milk
1 tsp dark vanilla
12 oz. milk chocolate chips
7 oz. marshmallow crème

Chai Fudge Ingredients

Combine sugar and evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan and mix until sugar is completely moistened.  Add butter and chai latte mix.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Boil approximately 4 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, lowering heat on stove, then add marshmallow crème and vanilla.  Return pan to stove and stir until marshmallow crème is dissolved.  Remove from heat and add chocolate chips.  Stir until completely melted, then immediately pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and cool before cutting.
Some tips and notes from me:
Chocolate Chai Fudge
Mix the sugar and evaporated milk
thoroughly before adding heat.
This can be made with milk chocolate for a sweeter flavor, as I have done here, or with semisweet or even dark chocolate for a deeper flavor.  The higher quality the chocolate, the better your fudge will turn out.  Just be aware that you may need to increase the amount of chai with a darker chocolate to be able to taste it.
Do not skip the step of stirring the sugar and evaporated milk.  You want to get this well mixed before you even start heating your mixture.  One of the things that will make your fudge grainy is undissolved sugar crystals.  The quicker and more effectively you get them dissolved, the better.
The brand of chai mix I used is Big Train, available at Cash & Carry, and I am sure many other retailers.  However, you could use any powdered mix, including a homemade mix.
When you bring your fudge to a boil, do not wait for it to come to a rolling boil.  Once you start seeing bubbles that are more than a simmer, it is time to start stirring.  Do not put your spoon down at this point!  You want to keep stirring the entire time so the mixture does not scorch on the bottom.  The recipe states 4 minutes, but if you see your mixture darkening and pulling away from the sides a bit at the top, it is time to remove it from the stove.

Another way to make your fudge rich and creamy is to spend some time allowing the marshmallow crème to melt down after adding it.  Once you remove the fudge from the stove and add the chocolate chips, you need to mix it up fast and get it right into the prepared pan.

We hope you enjoy the recipe!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaser: Shaun the Sheep coming soon!

We have a birthday party coming up this weekend, so I won't have much time for sewing with all the prep work I have to do.  We should be hearing about our next duty station before Christmas, and I always get antsy during this wait and start doing a massive purge and reorganization throughout the house in preparation for a move.  Normally this would be fine, but suddenly the house is a sea of items whose destiny is yet to be determined, and it just doesn't work into my party scheme.

In the meantime, my angel wings are partially finished and I hope to release the pattern early next week.  But, as you may recall, I am a serial project hopper and the designing bug hit again.  So I made myself a chai latte and gave into the dark side.

I thought I would share a little teaser with you:

Shaun the Sheep.  10" block.

I may need to search for a good grassy background for this one, and I know for sure that his eyes will be embroidered.  Expect to see Shaun released into the wild sometime in the next two weeks!  I would love to eventually design some of his friends, like Timmy, Shirley, Bitzer, the farmer, the pigs ... wow, there are actually quite a few characters that would be fun to design.

If anyone is ever interested in getting a pattern out to the masses faster, I could always use pattern testers!  Otherwise they will come out at my leisure, and I can be quite leisurely.  Drop me a line via email, or leave me a comment here!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bigger on the inside

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who's time on television, so for us Whovians, this is a rather big deal.  If you have not been converted to our ways yet, I suggest that you check out the modern Doctor Who episodes (starting with the ninth Doctor, which will appear to be the first episode of the series) on Netflix.  You have to promise to try at least a few episodes, because it can take a few to find your bearings and grow attached.  The classic DW episodes may be a bit difficult for some people to get in to because of the outdated technical aspects, but they are still great stories!

Naturally, there are lots of Doctor Who patterns floating around right now.  I have completed my quilt top for the Doctor Who Stitch-Along hosted by Fandom In Stitches, which I will show after it has been completed, and I have lots more wibbly wobbly, timey wimey projects in the works.

Right now, Whims and Fancies and Trillium Design, two fabulous blogs in their own right, are partnering to offer a Doctor Who Along.  At the end of the journey, there will be 20 large blocks to put toward a quilt.  What I love about their designs is that there are pieces from both the classic and modern era.  With so much on my plate, I wasn't originally planning on joining in on the fun, but then I came across some Robert Kaufman Van Gogh-inspired fabric, and it reminded me of one of my favorite episodes.  So I had to do the first block, and now I am starting on the Time Lord block, so I may as well just go ahead and do the whole quilt.  ;)

My completed TARDIS block.

I used more leftovers from my TARDIS dress and my sister's TARDIS apron to piece this.  There is an awful lot of this blue floating around in the sewing room.  I was worried the two colors would look wrong together, and when I first started piecing it, it did look totally off.  But when I pulled the whole block together, I liked the effect.  I have to say that even though the pattern is written perfectly and is very easy to do, I was piecing my entire block together when I realized that I had left the bottom row of the lighter blue off on two pieces.  I didn't want to redo them, which I should have, so I worked my way backwards, ripping out the seams as little as possible until I could work that in there.  So my whole block ended up a little wonky, but I am going to pretend it doesn't bother me and move on with my quilt.  :)

My other TARDIS-inspired project is this purse, made from the free tutorial and pattern by Sarah over at Sew What Sherlock.  I have been wanting a new purse for a long time, and I knew I wanted it to be Doctor Who themed.  But I didn't want something that all the "normal" people around town would raise their eyebrows at.  I found the TARDIS harlequin pattern at Spoonflower, and I loved the mix of a traditional print and colors with my favorite fandom.

My brand new purse.  The brilliant thing about being able to sew is that you are not limited to what the stores carry!
I had a bit of a nail biting moment when it came to choosing the lining.  I could not find a matching navy broadcloth, and that's my favorite lining to work with so I wanted to stick with it.  White was out of the question and red was a little too Fourth of July, so I finally decided to use a black.  This was a difficult decision for me because I grew up with the understanding that there are some things you just don't do.  You don't mix black and brown, you don't mix metals, you don't mix prints, and you DON'T wear navy and black together.  Of course, now all the fashion shows tell me I am outdated and all the old rules have gone out the window.  I found that hard to believe.  But once I had it all together, I actually found that I loved the black with it.  It made the bag a little more serious and made the trim pop.

I am in love with this purse.  Even though it contains both navy and black.  :)

Sarah calls this the "perfect pleated purse," and I am inclined to agree.  I love the shape, and the size is perfect for carrying my wallet, keys, phone, diapers and wipes, a book, water bottle ... whatever I need!  I made two of them (the problem with the pre-Christmas season is that I can't show half the projects I make), and it was my first time inserting a zippered pocket or magnet closure.  Both of them were a breeze, though, so I know I will use the techniques in future projects.  I was afraid the harlequin pattern would be difficult to work with, but it actually helped me line things up easier.  The lining inside the pocket even looks like a mirror image.  I did a little fussy cutting on the strap to make sure I had a row of TARDISs (TARDISES?  TARDI?  What is the plural for a TARDIS?) featured in the center.

A magnet clasp and a zippered pocket?  I got a little cocky on this bag.  ;)
I am making a little matching key fob to go with it thanks to a free tutorial I found.  But that still leaves me with a half yard of this delightful fabric.  What on Earth should I make with it?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Confessions of a project hopper (free UFO organizer)

I project hop.  A lot.  Sometimes I see those adult ADD commercials and I think, Jeez, that could be me!

I used to think I was alone in this, until I started following other quilters in their journeys.  It turns out, there are a lot of UFOs* tucked away in bins and on top of sewing tables and in the backs of closets.  I suspect every once in a while a quilter stumbles on an old UFO and realizes he or she completely forgot that project had ever been started!
My project hopping is so bad that I have had to develop a UFO list to keep me organized.

This wasn't even enough room for all my projects, and this is just for quilts!  Eep!
I realize this is something you could easily put together on your own and even customize it to fit your needs, and this is meant to be an idea to spark your own creativity.  By all means, develop your own!  If you are not a quilter, you can format it to your own type of projects.  I would love it if you could share your ideas here.  If, however, you would prefer the readymade version and would like to download a copy of this, you can find it here.  I highly recommend laminating it and using vis-à-vis markers so you can reuse it as needed.
I also love the fact that, besides keeping track of what I have left to do, I have a visual reminder that yes, I have finished some projects and made good headway on others.  It's nice to be reminded of this every once in a while.

Here it is, in action.  (I switched out some of my Christmas gifts for some of my other future projects.)  Yes, I also hang my templates and rulers on the wall for easy access.  We just pretend it's wall décor.
*If you do not understand the term UFO, you are either not a quilter, or you always finish what you start, which I find suspect.  ;)  A UFO is an UnFinished Object, and for many of us, they multiply like rabbits in the dark recesses of our sewing spaces.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pattern for sale: Candy corn!

While all my fandom patterns are free, I will occasionally list a pattern for sale on Craftsy.  Every once in a while I need to try to earn a few dollars off my crafting so I can support my fabric habit family.

With the stores having reminded us for the last two months that Halloween is on its way, I thought it would be fun to put up a little Halloween piece.  You should have plenty of time to make one for yourself and a couple as gifts for friends and family.
I decided to make a pattern based on one of my favorite Halloween candies:  candy corn.  Candy corn is a running joke in my family, where the rivalry between “love it” and “hate it” is as fierce as that between any rival football teams.  The block measures 15” square and is intended as a mini quilt or a single quilt block.  This would resize easily to 30” for a nice wall hanging.  However, if these sizes are too large for you, there is also a 7” template included with the pattern.  The 7” size would function really well as a mug rug.
The computer-generated image.
I made mine as a 15" mini quilt to use as part of a Halloween tablescape.
The finished quilt.
This is about as beginner of a piece as you can get, so even those who are new to paper piecing should have little to no trouble with it.  There are no tricky angles, which I still hate and get wrong occasionally, even after a year of paper piecing.  It is all one section, so there is no joining sections together at the end.  If you stitch on the lines, everything will look exactly like it is supposed to!  The only problem I can really foresee people having is paper piecing with such large pieces of fabric.  However, the brilliant thing about doing larger patterns with big pieces is that you can pin them a lot easier without running the risk of hitting the pins with your machine.  I recommend pinning them to keep them in place while you sew, even if you don't normally on smaller patterns.

I had fun picking out some nice tonals for the candy corn and background.  I tend to work primarily in tonals and use patterns only when I need them to help get part of the paper pieced "picture" across.  Here are my main colors:

And I went with a bit crazier fabric for the backing, because that’s the perfect spot to do that.

There was not much to choose from in terms of Halloween fabrics.  I wish someone would come up with some really cute ones. So many of them were very dated.  I chose this because it is candy corn pennants so it matched the theme, and I thought the purple would go with the black nicely.
Two of my fabrics that I chose, the white and the yellow, happened to be very thin and light-colored.  That is often the case when you use fabrics from the big box stores instead of buying really nice quilting fabric.  My solution for that, especially when there is not a lot of intricate piecing, is simply to cut a piece twice the size I need and double it up.  It adds very little bulk to the piece and keeps those seams from showing through.
In retrospect, I probably would have made the binding a solid color, like a dark purple, because it looks like it is slightly off with the wavy pennants.  On my next one, I will use a different binding.  This was my first time free-motion quilting a stipple-type design over a whole mini quilt.  I normally stitch in the ditch and have only ever FMQed to add a little interest in small spots.  It was a little intimidating!  But I chose one of the easier patterns from Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project.  The pattern I used is Spiral Knots.  I like this pattern because it is simple, there is room for error, and it has a fun, swirly design that is perfect for Halloween.  It made me think of a crazy spider web.  It is a really good beginner quilting design.  At this point, I haven’t quilted the candy corn, which almost makes it puff out in a sort of 3D effect.  I am not sure if I will go back and quilt that eventually or not.  I think if I did, I would echo quilt or just do wavy lines going up the length of it.  I am really on the fence about that, though, because of the three different colors.  If I do quilt it, I will probably go with monofilament thread.

You can keep your candy corn traditional, as mine is here, or go crazy with the colors.  For only 2$, this is definitely a pattern worth adding to your collection.  You can purchase it on Craftsy here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Teaser: New pattern coming soon!

I had planned a great day at Northwest Trek with the kiddos, and then I woke up to the sound of the heavens splitting open and dumping buckets of rain.  A little drizzle we can stomach, but a full lightning storm was out of the question.  And with one kid having a head cold and the other two starting to feel stuffy, it felt like a good day to stay in our pajamas, watch movies, and pop popcorn.

And when I got tired of that, it was time to design a new block!


My newest pattern.

I am hoping to test this pattern out tonight, but honestly, it will probably take me a few days to get around to it.  I do have the perfect fabrics picked out, though.

Can you guess what it is and what fandom it represents?

If you are interested in helping to test out any of my new patterns, please contact me or leave a comment.  I would love to send you my untested patterns for you to give them a trial run!

Cluck, Cluck, Sew petal pillow

I have been MIA the last few days because my son broke my iron, which has severely cut down on the amount of sewing I can do.  It was a blessing in disguise, though, because when I bought the iron I didn't realize it was a cheap Chinese-made model (I guess I expected better from Home Depot), and it didn't even have an on-off switch.  I had to unplug it from the wall every time I wanted to turn it off, releasing a shower of sparks.  And every time I used it, the lights in the sewing room would flicker like crazy.  So I am probably much safer with my new Black&Decker iron.

As we head into autumn, I have a whole favorites bar filled with spring- and summer-inspired projects that I finally have time to get around to.  I realize they are off-season, but our weather is becoming quite dreary in the Pacific Northwest, and sunny days are going the way of the dodo and common sense.  So diving into these projects now helps me keep that cheery summer attitude going just a bit longer.

I have seen dozens of tutorials for pillows with some sort of big flower on them and have been tempted to make one, but never fully realized that dream.  I did a small mock version of one with a wool felt flower on some linen left over from a Renaissance Faire dress, and I loved it.  So when I saw this tutorial from Allison at Cluck, Cluck, Sew, it really piqued my interest.  Yes, I realize the original posting is five years old, but a pattern that works, works, and it might be time to revive it.  I mulled it over in my mind and hadn’t really committed to it until I walked past the Eco-fi felt bolts—on sale, of course—and saw my favorite non-color:  a dark grey.
This is the pillow that inspired me to do this project.  I love the cheery colors!  Photo by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew.  Used by permission.

My chosen fabric.
I had seen this cream and light grey flower fabric at the store before and I knew I wanted to use it for something, but it didn’t really fit any of the paper piecing patterns I have.  I decided it would make a great background fabric for my pillow.  You can see the grey stitching here; normally I would have used a cream, but I thought a nice contrast grey would be good, even though no one ever sees the back of a pillow.  But I know it's there.  I made the mistake of buying some really nice Sulky rayon thread, and I will never do that again.  For some reason, it just will not load properly on my bobbin.  It wasn't the bobbin winder, because I tested a cotton and a polyester thread on the same winder and they wound perfectly.  I am very happy with my choice of the dark grey felt for the flower, because I need a nice neutral that I can move from room to room when the redecorating bug hits.

Never go high-tech if you don't have to!
Sometimes the hardest part of completing projects like this is finding items that are the correct size to work as a circle template.  I had recently taken apart a broken gumball machine I bought for a dollar at a garage sale (I plan repurposing it soon as a conversation piece, so be sure to watch for a post on that), and it just so happened that one of the pieces was a 4-inch circle.  Close enough for this crafter!  My Mod Podge was a good stand-in for a 3-inch circle.  When I reached the center and needed a small circle to cover the middle of the flower, my sewing machine oil was nearby and just the right size.  I traced a dinner plate for my flower template on the front fabric.

This was about the point I started
questioning my commitment to this project.  :)
I was able to squeeze 24 small circles and 20 circles out of the quarter yard of felt I bought, but it wasn’t quite enough.  I had to head back to the store for another 1/8 of a yard to do the last couple of rows.  I needed more of my background fabric, too.  I don't know if the home décor fabric comes on wider bolts or if I just cut my pieces out in the wrong way, so the 19” of quilting cotton didn’t quite cut it.  I was about four inches too short.  If I had thought about how much I was going to need ahead of time, I would have known that, but I’m not really one for thinking ahead.  :)  But now I have some pretty scraps and I will have to figure out a use for them.

I started sewing on petals, and life was easy for the first few rows.  By the time I reached the center, where it got a bit thick, I was very thankful to be sewing on my great-grandmother's machine, a vintage Kenmore model 158.  The manual comes in a hideous stunning avocado green, as does the matching thread and bobbin holder.  To be honest, this is probably the best machine I will ever have.  It is a workhorse that can sew through 12 layers of thick fleece to make a rag quilt (a total mistake … I meant to buy flannel and got myself confused), is simple to use, and is cheap and easy to fix on my own.  Don’t be afraid to pick up one of these older machines for 10$ or 20$ at a garage sale as a backup; you can’t go wrong with them!

I will go into serious mourning if this thing ever kicks the bucket.

The closer I got to the center, the more I needed the pins.
The original tutorial did not call for pinning the petals.  In fact, from her photos, it appears Allison is one of those magical people who can make things line up exactly where she wants with the touch of a hand, regardless of the project type.  If I am sewing straight lines, I don't use pins.  On curves, however, I have to pin like crazy and still pray to the sewing gods that my final project will kind of sort of resemble what I was going for.

Better safe than sorry!
As a family, we are somewhat tough on fabric.  I am the master of using the slipstitch to fix ripped seams, but I would rather sew smart in the first place.  Knowing that the pillow cover will need to be removed and washed quite often, I made sure to really reinforce the seams in the back where the rectangular flaps meet the front fabric.  I went over those areas a few times with the thread.

I am really pleased with the final pillow.  The felt and the colors make it feel both homey and a little luxe at the same time.

I know I will be checking out more of Allison's pillow patterns and other fun sewing projects.  If you are more of the quilty type, she has some beautiful quilt tutorials available on her blog as well.  Please head over and check them out!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Confessions of a fabric hoarder ... and my tips to score more!

I have a little bit of fabric tucked away in my sewing room.

A bit here ...

If I think I will get to a project within the week, it lands on the sewing table next to my machine.

I am probably most excited about this upcoming project: the stocking Advent calendar by Caroline of Trillium Design.  And I use these record bowls for tons of craft room organizing.
And there …

Large yardages of fabric, like those for Renaissance Faire dresses; recycled fabrics and materials; and batting tend to land right under the table.  That burlap coffee bag is soon going to reupholster a cheap little footstool that I plan on repainting.  Oh, yes, that stack of green tubs is also quilt fabric for quilts in the various UFO stages.

 And here …
To the right of my machine, I keep a basket of inspiration fabrics.  Things I need to mull over before I decide what to do with them, like some Poe-themed fabric.  Can you tell what colors I gravitate towards?
And here (and here and here).
This is my mega stash.  Anything smaller than a yard goes here, in a shoe hanger on the back of my sewing room door.  It may not look like there is a system, but it makes sense to me.
I found this great box at a garage sale for 2$, and this is where I store all future projects that I know I won't get to for a while.  I bag up the pattern and all the fabric I purchased for the project, then slide the lid on and tuck it away until I run out of things to do and need a new project.  (Hah!)
I store projects in the works and some of my quilt backings on my ironing board.  Then I curse myself for that decision every time I run out of room to iron my seams.
There’s even more stashed away in little pockets around the room.

OK, I may willing to admit to a small bit of fabric hoarding.  But I have gone from purchasing gifts for the gigantic family I married into to making most of them, and it is nice to have a large stash on hand so I can put together a quick gift at the last minute.  (They don’t believe much in planning ahead.)  I thought I might share with you some of my fabric and quilting supply shopping tips in this post.  Just to help enable you in your own fabric hoarding endeavors.  ;)

·         If you see a fabric you love and you know you will eventually be able to put it to use but you don’t know where or when, go ahead and get yourself at least a quarter yard.  That will usually run you between a dollar and two dollars at the big box fabric stores.  Because trust me, if you think you’re going to be able to find it when that perfect block does pop up, you are in for a big disappointment.
·         Check Spoonflower for some truly remarkable custom fabrics.  My personal favorites are the Doctor Who prints, which are impossible to find anywhere else.  Generally your cost will run around 20$ a yard for Kona cotton, but if you are really searching for something unusual or have designed your own fabric, this is the place to purchase it.  Designers even get a discount on their own designs!

·         Check eBay!  It is amazing how many times I have found the perfect fabric there for specialty projects, and you can often buy in quarter yard increments.  The prices are usually right in line with on-ground shops, or even cheaper.  I generally sort by price+shipping (lowest first) so I can look for options in my price range, but sometimes I will pay a bit more for unique items, like a Van Gogh-inspired print for a Doctor Who block.
My free Mickey print!  I ended up with quite a lot of this.
·         I use Listia to clear out finished craft projects or unwanted items and earn new crafting supplies.  Listia is a site similar to eBay, but you use credits that you earn by giving away free things to bid, so no money changes hands.  As the site grows, there is a lot more available, and I found my favorite fabric there once to recover a chair, as well as a classic Mickey print for a Disney-loving family member. 

I adore this magnolia print that I "bought" for free on Listia.  I got that chair for 20$ on Craigslist.  Probably overpriced, but I loved the design of it.  A little spray paint and new upholstery, and it was good as new.
·         If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, garage sales can be a terrific source of fabric.  I can often find fat quarters with the labels still on for 25 or 50 cents each, which is a great savings.  Occasionally you can get yardage of something really nice for pennies on the dollar.  It’s usually other people clearing out their hoarded stashes, so sometimes you find hideous, outdated fabrics, but you can also find some real scores.
·         I get a little coupon card on those coupon door hangers for 20% off one item each month at my local quilt shop.  I usually use that on things like patterns, and it is a nice discount.  You might try calling your local quilt shop to see if they participate in anything like that so you can keep your eye out or have friends save theirs for you.
·         When you get those 50% off coupons to the big craft stores and it seems like everything in the entire store is already on sale, that is your chance to stock up on three critical quilting items: Carol Doak’s foundation paper (making it about 5$ for a pack of 100 sheets), basting spray (making it about 7$ a can, depending on the brand you use), and sewing machine quilting needles.  It is very rare that these things go on sale, so they are perfect fodder for coupons.

I would love to know some of your tips, so please share them with me in the comments!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The most amazing llama pattern!

If you are a traditional quilter (or have never pieced a block at all) and have been on the fence about whether to try paper piecing, this pattern should tip the scales in that direction.

I was browsing on Craftsy and putting a million patterns that I don’t have the time or the money for on my wish list, when I came across a Leonard the Llama pattern by Sarah of Sew What Sherlock.  As a fan of The Emperor’s New Groove since (embarrassingly enough) long before I had children, and a woman strangely obsessed with llamas in general, I had to have it.  Come to find out, the original post came out on my birthday, so I feel the universe is telling me this pillow was meant to be.  :)
The original Leonard.  Photo by Sarah of Sew What Sherlock.  Used by permission.  (Look, even her pictures are gorgeous!)
I have to give a quick nod to Sarah, and not just for offering this great pattern.  Once I purchased it, I peppered her inbox and blog with questions and comments.  She was very gracious and took care to answer my questions quickly and offer me some great advice.   She definitely went above and beyond the call of good customer service!
My fabric choices.

I loved the graphic print on Sarah’s llama and wanted something similar.  However, I went to the big box store instead of our adorable local quilt shop, because I am a cheapskate budget-conscious and had coupons.  And, of course, they had nothing close to what I wanted.  But I found a gorgeous blue with a textured print that is so very me, and a similar textured print in a grey-brown.  I knew I needed a cream for the light areas of my llama, which was easy to find.  Originally I planned on using the blue as the background for my ordinary-looking grey and white llama, but that choice never felt quite right.  When I started laying everything out, it finally clicked:  I needed the background to be grey and my llama to be blue and white.  Once I made that decision, I was quite pleased with the result. 

The trim I finally found.
Of course, Sarah’s pillow has adorable aqua pompom trim.  But when I looked at the afore-mentioned big box store, all I found were really big pompoms or ugly colors that I wasn’t happy with.  (Christmas tree green, anyone?)  I was standing in the cut line, resigned to the thought of a trim-free pillow, when I spotted this trim that matched the feeling of my fabrics perfectly.  I snagged barely enough of it (I can’t buy things on a whim because I always buy the wrong amount) and went home to ignore the chores and work on my pillow.
My 20-lb. cat testing out the pillow's sleep-inducing qualities during the assembly stage.

Looks like it is yawn-worthy!

The pattern went together quickly and easily, which was a treat after spending a lot of time on some difficult patterns lately.  Most people, if they have any difficulty, will probably end up having issues piecing the head.  My advice is just to sew slowly and with confidence.  It is actually a fairly simple set of steps, just small.  And don’t worry if the face looks funny at first.  My llama was looking like a Pekingese, and then a rabbit, and it really didn’t look much like a llama until after adding the body.  And do not ask me how I managed to get my pattern put together backwards.  I have mad skills like that.  Fortunately it didn’t matter because it wasn’t a directional pattern, so I did not even mess with trying to reprint as a mirror image or anything technical like that.
Be sure to baste your trim
on to one of the pillow pieces
before sewing your pillow

I am a self-taught sewer over the course of about the last 18 months, so I don't know how one is "technically" supposed to put trim on a pillow.  But I knew it would be easier to sew the pillow together and do my slipstitch if the trim was already attached.  All I did was cut the trim into four pieces the length of each side and baste them to the right side of the fabric of the pillow back with a 1/8" seam.  Then I put my pillow front and back with right sides together and sewed all the way around with 1/4" seams, making sure to clip my corners before turning it.  You may need to adjust your trim placement or seam allowances, depending on the size of your trim.  After putting my pillow together with that beautiful trim, this is what I ended up with!

My completed pillow.

He makes me happy just looking at him.  I think everything in your house should do that.
It’s almost enough to make me want to steam-clean the couch to deserve it.
Almost.  :D

I have several more of Sarah's patterns wish-listed and tutorials bookmarked.  Which one is your favorite?