Sunday, August 30, 2015

Island Batik - Summer in the Country Blog Hop - Haystack Christmas

 Summer in the Country Blog Hop. - Day 14


This is part 2 of my participation. I hope you enjoyed the post (Part 1) on 18-Aug (Day 2).

When I originally thought Summer in the Country and was looking at these fabrics, there were a couple that just said--Christmas in July. But we're doing the blog hop in August, so that wasn't quite right, but I just couldn't get the thought out of my mind.

So, I have a little Christmas in July concept, that has now been adapted to be a wall hanging that could be thematically decorated for any season. The other fabrics were used in examples shown in my Part 1 blog post from Day 2.

My primary fabrics are three SKUs; two from Green Acres and one from Countryside. I've thrown in a few other bits for the inner borders, and a woodgrain fabric for the frame.

You won't see the reindeer in this first image below, but it becomes the feature next.


This stack of hay bales next to the barn, has a cat and a dog (ok, maybe they really are a cougar and a wolf, but in this context I think they work as happy farm animals) and some bushes and grassy areas and even a bit of dirt road leading up to the haystack.

I created the cornerstones of the sashing by making 8 half square triangles (HSTs) at a time (you can find this technique taught by Eleanor Burns at Quilt-in-a-Day and also in my new co-authored book You Can Quilt: Building Skills for Beginners. Yes, they are small, but using this method they came together beautifully. This helps to give dimension to the bales. They are finished HSTs - 1/2" square; start with two 3" squares. The beauty of doing them this way, they all finish without bias edges.

The hay bales are cut 6.5" x 3.5" and the sashing is cut 1". I did improvise the inner borders (around the hay bales basically...and when trying to add the final woodgrain fabric border, it became clear that I hadn't kept things very straight, so had a few adjustments to make. If you want to improvise...just be careful to keep it squared up.

With the help of two of my friends, Nancy Goddard and Julie Tapley, we have seasonal decorations to hang on the hay bales. There are a variety of ways that they could be attached, including stitching a loop into the top of each bale --either in the piecing process or by hand after it is quilted. Then all 'ornaments' can be hung traditionally. A hook and eye mechanism --put the eye in the strategic spots and a hook on all 'ornaments'. Since some decorations may not be desired in the same locations all the time, perhaps a sticky Velcro system would allow for easy movement (Thanks to another friend, Linda Roberts, that for that suggestion). I'd love ideas for solutions!

I really knew next to nothing about doing machine embroidery. A couple of key things I learned through this experiment--there are designs that are rated for stand alone (i.e. it would make a patch) ..I don't think we used any of those, so a few of these are quite delicate, but they will work for this illustration. We also tried using a water soluable interfacing. Some worked better than others. You'll see on the spider webs that a clear film developed when it dried. That helped the stitching stay together even though it wasn't a design intended to be used in this way.

Here is the first concept -- Christmas in July ....or just really at Christmas!

Then a 4th of July celebration might look like this:

or consider many other seasons

Snow time --I always think of January for snow --used an Aurifil variegated thread for this one.

Appliqued onto polka dotted fabric for this heart.
Valentine's Day in February

St. Patrick's day in March or                Easter Eggs ...sometime in the spring

Watermelon for summertime fun or even something hand made using my Queen of Hearts accuquilt Go! die and cutter and a few hand stitches with Aurifil 12 wt thread.

and how about the fall ....or Halloween.

Even thought a 12 Days of Christmas idea would be fun or even a countdown to the start of school. On the backside of the Christmas ornaments, use a nice light neutral fabric so you can write a number or use a fabric with numbers or print them yourself. Then stitch out a school house and let it be a fun countdown to school.

Now for this very yummy recipe!

Lemon Berry Bars

This idea developed in my childhood and continues to evolve. Start with a Russian Tea Cake recipe. Don't make the 'balls', just put the dough in a pan and bake it. Cool. Add a lemon pie filling and top with berries. They could be fresh berries or make a compote.

I chose to try using almond flour instead of wheat flour (often I use part wheat and part white flour). I have many friends and think I myself would benefit from minimal gluten, so have started experimenting with other flours. It actually turned out great.

Russian Tea Cake mix for the 'crust'

1 cup soft butter--just let it sit out for a while (I tend to use butter with olive oil premixed)
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla (I used some awesome Mexican Vanilla)

Sift and stir in:
Flour (I often use 1 1/4 c whole wheat flour and 1 c white; this time I used 2 1/4 cups Blanched Almond Flour - Gluten Free! ....and no sifting actually occurred, but you get the idea)
1/4 teaspoon Salt (I used Sea Salt)

Mix in:
3/4 cup Almonds (calls for chopped nuts ...I just put the whole almonds in --while mixing it broke them up a little bit, but not much, I like the crunch!)

Spread into a pan (use a bigger pan than this! unless you love a thick crust)

Fresh out of the oven.

Yes, it fell, but that's ok. This made for a very thick crust --my weakness I realize, so it would probably be just fine in a larger pan and make for a bit thinner crust --it will go farther when serving it.

Lightning Lemon Pie filling

(this is from a recipe book my mom had in the 1970's) I wrote up a recipe card while in a high school foods class circa 1980.

Super simple ingredients --powerful punch!

Stir together until it thickens (beat it!):
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk --I notice that the can purchased at Costco recently is an ounce less than what they were in the 1970's!
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (zest!)
2/3 cup lemon juice -- fresh or ReaLemon

Spread on cooled crust.

Add Fresh Berries when ready to serve or make a compote and chill before serving---I used rows of fresh raspberries (they were huge! --those Driscoll berries are grown where I was born) and blueberries.

Cut desired size and garnish with a fresh mint sprig if you'd like!

Hope you've enjoyed these ideas! Leave a comment below to be entered into a fabric giveaway of all three of these primary fabrics (hay bales, sashing and reindeer ornaments). Be sure I can contact you if I select your comment randomly on Sept. 7.

Any ideas for how to attach the 'ornaments' on the hay bales?

The next blog in the Summer in the Country Blog Hop is Be A Quilter.

Use the Rafflecopter below for the main Island Batik Giveaways.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My next blog post will be on 1-Sept as part of the EQ Seasons Row-a-long. Tutorials of how to draw rows featuring the four seasons and lots of giveaways. You do not need to have the Electric Quilt (EQ) software, but you might be inspired to enter to win it. My design will be a new paper piecing pattern incorporated in two sizes into a beautiful Spring row. See you then! Join this Facebook group if you'd like to get additional support for the EQ Seasons RAL.

Update 9/7:
Giveaway is now closed.
Randomly selected winner is Anita. You have been sent an email requesting your mailing address.

Thank you for all the 'fastening' ideas!


  1. What a cute idea! I wonder if, after quilted, you could run a small piece of floss loop through the quilt and then secure small jewelry findings to the ornaments to hang from the threads. That way they could easily be removed to change out, and when not in use the floss could be pulled flat against the front from the backside to hide it. Love the recipe idea also, nothing better than lemon and fresh berries!

  2. How fun this idea is!!! Soooo Creative too! I would try a lil piece of Velco to each ornament...the use lil rolled piece of painter tape on back of velcro piece that would go on place ornament where you want them...& shouldn't hurt quilt? An idea...never

  3. Reading the idea from OhioLori made me wonder if just plain old painter's tape would do. Or if there is some version of 3M Command Strips that works on fabric. Clever idea, I hope you also find a clever solution for attaching the decorations.

  4. self stick velcro might work. love the recipe

  5. What a fun design idea. Total #CreativeGoodness.


  6. It's so interesting to see that the whole design came from the reindeer fabric!

  7. Tiny snaps or velco might work.

  8. Oh Wow! What a great idea. I especially love the one for Halloween. I was also thinking this would be awesome for a Birthday party-maybe add balloons, presents and decorations to the hay bales. I think I would add floss to each ornament, then lightly "tack" the ends down so they could be removed. Thank you for the giveaway.

  9. And have you noticed that cereal boxes are not as wide as they used to be although I think the height is the same. And toilet paper rolls are shorter too as they don't even fill the holder space anymore. And Oreos are no longer in as big a package. Manufacturers we have caught on to you. BTW. cute quilty idea.

  10. Oh I love how unique and individual your design is! Plus it is an excellent wall hanging for everyday also. I have no idea how you attached the ornaments. Your dessert looks delicious I will be trying it. If I were to win these fabrics, I really am not sure what I would make with them at this time. Sure would be fun to find out thought! LOL. Have a wonderful creative day!

  11. Thanks for the great giveaway. The first thing I thought of was bakers twine why not bale that hay top to bottom in the middle of each bale.

  12. Cute idea. Aileen's used to make a tack it over and over glue, that was for that kind of item. Or, why not just spray back with temporary spray that you use for quilts? Just a spot of the spray would hold it for the little bit of time it is on. Then you could hand wash it out until next time.

  13. Cute idea. Aileen's used to make a tack it over and over glue, that was for that kind of item. Or, why not just spray back with temporary spray that you use for quilts? Just a spot of the spray would hold it for the little bit of time it is on. Then you could hand wash it out until next time.

  14. Now that's just too cute. Love how you change it up! Your lemon bars sound delicious. I might just have to set my box mix aside and give this one a try! LOL!!

  15. What about sewing buttons on the hay bales and putting a loop on the ornaments? Very cute project! Thanks for the giveaway!

  16. Loved your ideas. The different holiday's on the hay bales were great. Thank you for the giveaway.

  17. I had the same thought as Cecilia about using buttons!

  18. What a nifty way to decorate for the different seasons - cute, cute!

  19. fun quilt! and I love LEMON BARS!! yum

  20. What a creative idea. You did a great job with all your machine embroidery. Little hooks on the hay bales may work, I would suggest velcro but that would always be more visible when the ornaments weren't on.

  21. Very cute! You could put pockets on the back to hold the decorations, and put small buttons on the front, with thread loops or button holes to attach the ornaments. Love the ideas!

  22. I love the idea of a quilt that changes with the seasons! I especially like this one in batiks that make it an art quilt. You may want to add some tiny sticks or tiny lengths of twine or beads to hang ornaments on - embellishments that would blend well with the hay even when there are no ornaments on it.

  23. I loved the prancing reindeer......Ty for sharing your hay bales lol.......Loved the colors you

  24. Well, there is always velcro, snaps and hooks/eyes or buttons, if you want to sew the button on and put a piece of thread or yarn on the ornament.

  25. What a fun project! I think Velcro would be an easy application for your ornaments.

  26. That looks fantastic and I love that it is so versatile.

  27. What a neat idea Marlene, thanks for sharing!!

  28. I agree velcro would work nicely. Love the reindeer best though. crystalbluern at onlineok dot com

  29. Velcro is probably easiest -- I have an advent calender with green velcro on the tree that the ornaments are put up with, and it works great.

  30. Thanks for sharing the neat ornaments!

  31. Thanks for sharing the neat ornaments!

  32. Like your idea! So clever. I'd probably use velcro.

  33. A new approach to fabric design.

  34. I think I might use little snaps. They would be easy to remove later, if your idea changed, and they are easy to apply. Sometimes old "technology" is still the best, to me. Or, if you want a bit of a 3-d hanging effect, maybe a hook and eye, which would make the ornament stick out from the bale just a tad?

  35. Too cool and that dessert looks delicious