Minecraft Inspired Diamond Ore Baby Quilt

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Minecraft Inspired Diamond Ore Throw Quilt
Some dear real life and Minecraft friends are expecting a baby this summer. It just so happens that pixelated Minecraft graphics are 100% calling to be turned into a quilt. Hence, the Minecraft Inspired Baby Quilt Tutorial here.

Many Minecraft quilts are large, as in 55+ blocks wide (although the exception might be this giant Creeper quilt from SewMod). Baby quilts are usually simpler with large blocks, and so is the one in this post. 16 blocks square, and just a little short of the correct width of a crib blanket (my fault for assembling a previous quadrant in a wonky way).

It is difficult to get exact Minecraft colors. I did my best by purchasing Solid Color Scraps by the pound from etsy/StashModernFabric. Any colors that were missing from that bundle, I filled in with Kona cottons and Symphony broadcloth from JoAnn Fabrics. I super under-bought the medium gray, and ended up filling it in with some purple-undertone Gray lying about in my stash. I also went for 4 shades of turquoise, instead of white, light blue, sky blue, and turquoise - the colors as written would probably come out more accurately. But at least this way we're somewhat sidestepping copyright issues?

This quilt is actually two-sided. The second side is essentially another Minecraft quilt top with farm animals, so it gets its own post in a couple weeks.

Mine-craft Inspired Diamond Ore Throw Quilt
The written instructions on the illustrated guide may be of more help than the photos below. They are somewhat incomplete.
  1. Materials
    5/8yd Medium Gray Fabric
    7/8yd Gray Fabric
    1yd Dark Gray Fabric
    1/4yd Charcoal Gray Fabric
    1/8yd White Fabric
    1/4yd Light Blue Fabric
    1/8yd Sky Blue Fabric
    1/8 yd Turquoise Fabric
    1/2yd Fabric for continuous bias binding
    ~3yd Fabric for the quilt backing
    60x60” low loft quilt batting
    Sewing machine
    Thread, Pins, Scissors
    Thread or safety pins for basting
    Rotary cutter, mat, ruler
    0. Materials
  2. Always starch & iron fabric before measuring & cutting!
    0. Always starch & iron fabric before measuring & cutting!
  3. Cut starched & ironed fabric into 3.5-3.75” squares, in colors from guide at top.
    1. Cut starched & ironed fabric into 3.25-3.5” squares, in colors from guide at left.
  4. Lay fabric squares out, according to diagram
    1. Cut & Layout Fabric Squares
  5. Flip right-most column onto neighboring column for entire quadrant, then stack top-most pair on top of underneath pair, etc.
    (the guide has a good illustration of this step). I use chain piecing to keep my pieces in order and not spend too much time on backstitching ends!
    Flip right-most column of squares onto neighboring left column.
    You will be sewing along the right edges of the squares. I like to work
    in quadrants (i.e., only 8x8 squares at one time). tack the top pair onto the pair below, stack these 4 squares, onto
    the pair below them. Continue to bottom of column, repeat for
    remaining columns. You should have 8 piles.
    2. Flip right-most column onto neighboring column for entire quadrant, then stack top-most pair on top of underneath pair, etc.
  6. Sew pairs of blocks together using a 1/4" inseam (pretty much always)!
    Sew pairs of squares together, along right edge.
    No need to snip thread between pairs, just keep feeding
    pairs of squares into sewing machine. Iron seams open.
    3. Sew pairs of blocks together.
  7. Iron seams open, and double check that squares are in correct order.
    4. Iron seams open.
  8. Pin & sew columns together, right sides together.
    It's worth noting that the order you sew the squares together from here on out doesn't really matter, so long as you do all 4 quadrants in the same way, otherwise they'll end up being different sizes. Just be sure to double-check the ordering of the squares is correct.
    5. Pin & sew columns together, right sides together.
  9. Iron seams open.
    6. Iron seams open.
  10. Pin & sew rows together.
    Pin & sew odd rows together, right sides together. Pin seams on one row to seams on the next, ensuring matching corners. Repeat for even rows.
    7. Pin & sew rows together.
  11. If everything's cut perfectly and sewn with 1/4" inseam, all the squares should line up throughout this entire process.
    If this is not the case, I choose to sew little carefully placed puckers into the seams. When I did this correctly, the pucker lines up perfectly with a seam and nearly disappears after the quilt is washed.
    Close-up of completed Diamond Ore Quilt Top
  12. Iron seams open.
    8. Iron seams open.
  13. Use a pin to indicate the upper -right corner of the quadrant block, so you don't have tor re-figure it out later!
    9. Use a pin to indicate the upper -right corner of the quadrant block, so you don't have tor re-figure it out later!
  14. Repeat for remaining three 8x8 quadrants.
    10. Repeat for remaining three 8x8 quadrants.
  15. Pin and sew two neighboring quadrants together, iron seams open.
    Pin & sew top-most quadrants to bottom-most quadrants,
    right sides together. Pin seams to match! Iron seams open.
    11. Pin and sew two neighboring quadrants together, iron seams open.
  16. Pin & sew remaining halves together.
    Pin & sew halves together, right sides together.
    Pin seams to meet, so corners match!
    12. Pin & sew remaining halves together.
  17. Iron seams open.
    Quilt top is done!
    13. Iron seams open.
  18. Complete the quilt.
    Make a quilt backing larger than the top; quilt sandwich the backing, batting, and top; quilt; make continuous bias binding and attach binding!

    I chose to quilt diagonally, at a 45 degree angle, through the corners of the squares on the other side of the quilt. The continuous bias binding is actually leftover from the double wedding ring quilt. I think a solid color in hot pink, or something bold, would work really well, too.
    14. Complete the Quilt
  19. Remember to include wash/dry care labels during binding phase!
    Don't forget to include wash/care labels during the binding phase!
  20. Wash & Dry the Quilt (cold delicates / low tumble)
    I never pre-shrink my fabric & batting, because the shrinking that happens in the wash covers up a bunch of mistakes!
    15. Wash & Dry the Quilt (cold+delicates, low tumble)
  21. Done!

Bias Binding on the Diamond Ore Block Quilt
Cat enjoying the Minecraft-inspired quilt, prior to washing & drying
Cat enjoying the Minecraft-inspired quilt, prior to washing & drying
Minecraft-inspired Diamond Block Quilt Tutorial Completed Minecraft Inspired Diamond Baby Quilt
Cat enjoying the Minecraft-inspired quilt, prior to washing & drying

Recipe: Mom's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Photos are actually of SmittenKitchen's Improved Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a store-bought crust, since I didn't have mom's recipe on hand. Once it's on the blog, I always have it on hand!

My only other experiences with rhubarb have been when canning - orange rhubarb butter (mmmmm) and rhubarb chutney. So, mom's strawberry rhubarb pie has been my only interaction with rhubarb, for the first 30 or so years of my life. Rhubarb is a rather seasonal thing - easy to grow in a garden, but pretty much only available in spring. It makes a delightfully tart pie, sweetened just a bit with some sugar and the strawberries. Absolutely fantastic.

I've gotten lazy and pretty much only use store-bought pie crusts. A pie is a lot more approachable when two-thirds the work is already done for you!

Mom's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

If you like strawberry dominant, use 2 16-oz containers of strawberries and 1 1/2 lbs of rhubarb. If you want the rhubarb dominant (mom's preference), use 2 1/2 lbs rhubarb and 1 16-oz container of strawberries. A rhubarb pie needs slower cooking - see below.

16-32oz Strawberries
1.5-2.5lbs Rhubarb
1/2 cp white sugar
1/2 cp brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch (BYOV: or 1/4c quick-cooking tapioca)
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Toss ingredients together.
  2. If possible, let them sit for about 1/2 hour and then put mixture into unbaked pie shell.
  3. If you wish, beat an egg yolk and brush it on the pie crust topping and sprinkle with a little sugar (makes for a pretty pie).
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce to 350 and bake for another hour. This softens the rhubarb. If you are using mostly strawberries, you can just bake at 400 for 40 minutes.
  5. Let cool completely, so the starch has time to gel a bit.

Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Most fruit pies stay together a bit better if you let them cool. I couldn't wait and cut this while it was still warm, hence, spillage.

Vermont Weekend

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Ben & Jerry's Factory
The day after J broke his arm + shoulder (before we knew what he actually did), we headed up to Burlington, Vermont with my parents. We stopped at Palmer's Sugar House for Maple Open House Weekend - a very New England thing to do. Right when it starts to warm up a bit, the trees release their sap, and that's prime season for making maple syrup. The sugar houses turn on the boilers and invite people in for some seasonally-heated pancakes with maple syrup tastings. Syrup-on-snow, maple hot dogs, maple lemonade, and so on.

Afterward, we made a brief trip to view the Americana at the Shelburne Museum. It being the off season (i.e., late March) only a small portion of the museum's buildings were open, but it looked like a great place to walk around when it gets warmer. Somewhere in there we stopped at the Magic Hat Brewery! Lots of things to do in southern Vermont!
Palmer's Sugar Shack
Palmer's Sugar Shack
Shelburne Museum
Shelburne Museum
Shelburne Museum

After a night in Burlington, perusing its cute downtown and harbor (and eating way too many crepes), we headed to the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury, Vermont. The highlight of the visit (aside from the free experimental ice cream on the tour) is the "Flavor Graveyard" where you can see silly epitaphs for all the retired flavors.
Downtown Burlington
Burlington Harbor
Burlington Harbor
Ben & Jerry's Factory
Ben & Jerry's Factory - Flavor Graveyard

This visit was followed by a trip to Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where you can watch (and taste!) freshly pressed apple cider, and then cozy over to the luncheonette for a flight of hard cider. And of course, there was a stop at the Cabot Farmers' store to pick up some everything bagel cheddar. All the cheese to taste you could ever want or need!
Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Hard Cider Flight at Cold Hollow Cider Mill

It's just so pretty here.

Moving! Transporting the Cat By Air

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cat waiting
This post has been a long time coming. More on that later.

We've already tried a 5 day road trip with the cat. I don't recommend it. Every morning, find the cat's new hiding spot, shove a half-Xanax (vet prescribed) down her throat. Shove her in a bag. Drive until the sun goes down, then keep driving as long as you can withstand the nonstop meowing. Pay up to an extra $100 to a road side motel for the privilege of housing your cat alongside.

That was in October. We were not going to repeat this in the oven heat of late June when moving cross country to New England. So my parents flew out, spent a few days siteseeing Northern California, and then took the cat back with them a couple days before the movers arrived.

The general process is worth knowing, and here's what we did, but it's recommended you double-check all this:
  1. Confirm with airline prior to purchasing plane ticket, that they have space for an onboard cat.
  2. Purchase a plane ticket
  3. Call up airline and obtain separate reservation number for onboard cat.
  4. Take cat to the vet, acquire updated vaccines and a signed record of good health.
  5. Drug cat with a half Xanax and drive her to the airport in her soft carrying case.
  6. Hand cat over to parents. They check in at desk with cat and pay onboard cat fee ($120).
  7. Parents go through TSA security check.
  8. Dad takes cat to private screening room so TSA can remove cat from her bag and inspect the carrying case. Dad brought gloves, probably wasn't necessary.
  9. Board plane and put cat in carrying case under seat in front of you.
  10. Cat is too scared to make a peep for the entire 5 hour flight.
  11. Drive cat home and release her in "her" room while she waits for her owners to return after a 2 week road trip.

So that worked out fine for us. Still rather traumatic for the cat, but considerably less awful for our road trip.

Cat headed to the airport Cat being transported through airport
Cat at ticketing Cat going through TSA
Focused cat [unfocused]

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