The Great Experiment: Pie crust edition

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Good morning, beautiful crafty people!

Yesterday, our fabulous Laura and I got together to test a recipe we’d been discussing. Now, I’m a big-time baker. I love to bake confectionery treats and goodies but I have only made one fruit pie in my life (and I cheated there and bought the pre-made dough that you just lay into the pan). Pie dough is quite daunting to me. Laura has made many and was kind enough to help me in working with this new-to-me medium.

I thought it would be fun to share with you all what I learned in my first real foray into making pie dough. Pie dough is not like cookie dough. My first moment of “Oh dear, am I doing this right?” was when I was mixing the butter into dry ingredients. The recipe called for cubed butter and I just sliced off the stick into rectangles, thinking that would be ok. Laura suggested actually cubing the slices as well, stating it would make the hand-mixing much each and would blend more thoroughly and easily. She was right. We had also discussed the use of a pastry blender, since this recipe specifically called for hand-blending/kneading. As I worked the ingredients together, I felt that the reason this recipe called for hand-kneading was so that you have a real feel for when the dough is blended enough. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it with the pastry blender though, if for no other reason than it may be a little easier on my upper body muscles. (Also, I’m short and Laura’s counters are tall, LOL.)

Next, Laura talked me through the roll out process. This recipe called for you to roll the dough out to about 8 x 13 and fold like a business letter. Then you roll it out again to 8 x 13 and fold like a business letter again. At this point, you wrap the dough and chill it for 30 minutes. This was the next point where I got confused. The roll out cookies I’ve made in the past didn’t require chilling. It was especially nerve-wracking when we took the dough out and I tried to roll it out again. It was tough & required a bit more effort than a cookie dough to get rolled out. I recommend definitely only chill for the suggested time in the recipe. Laura and I left ours in longer (we had to break for dinner, we were starving) and she thinks that may have contributed to the difficult roll out.

The next thing I discovered is the thickness of the dough. This recipe called for me to roll out the dough to 14 x 14. I’m used to cookie recipes saying something like, “roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness.” I think for the next time, I will gauge my roll out this way. We found after baking that the crust was a bit thick along the bottom. I also noticed it was a bit more difficult to slice venting slits in the top through a thicker dough. However, unlike with cookie dough, I noticed that the dough did not get consistently tougher as I re-rolled. And adding flour didn’t dry out the dough.

We also discovered that we had a little awkwardness during the crimping edge process. Laura and I exercised a little trial and error and eventually felt that the following method seemed to work best. We started off pushing the edges down and then, as you pressed the fork around the edges to crimp, you put a finger over the top of the fork as you press down. However, for next time, we also want to try putting  a little of the egg wash around the bottom edge before covering and crimping to see if that helps seal it a bit. 

Overall, the recipe/experiment was a resounding success, resulting is a light and flaky dough, and I learned a lot about making pie dough from scratch. I hope that these little tips and lessons we learned help you all in your future baking journeys!

Have a delicious Monday, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~

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It’s Getting Cold Outside

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Happy Sunday, all!

It’s finally feeling like fall here in the Midwest US, so that means it’s also colder and damper. It usually stays pretty warm in our snug little condo until about mid-December when we try to avoid turning on the heat for as long as possible. But it still gets me to thinking about and planning for those times when I need some extra warmth for my extremely cold feet. First plan of attack is usually to cover with an extra blanket, the easiest being one of those tied fleece type ones. To help with that, Kim from A Girl and a Glue Gun has some excellent instructions and ideas for different types of quick fleece blankets:

Second cold foot defense would be to find something that actually covers the feet themselves. I’ve seen plenty of DIY mermaid tails snuggle sack patterns but I had yet to see a dino/dragon tail until now:

Thanks to Bernat and All Free Crochet, you too can have the long, luxurious spiky tail you’ve always wanted. Definitely a must to keep those feet toasty. Lastly, if you’ve got a little time on your hands and some extra fabric you could make these lovely pockets that are solely for warming your feet:

I’ve been wanting to make the foot warmer from Little Oak Creations ever since I posted about those rice/corn/flax hand warmers (A Hand Warming Experience). The top portion houses the recently heated packets and your poor cold feet go directly under them in the cushy bottom. Think warm thoughts and heat up some cocoa, everyone! Next week we’ll take a look at some cool DIY host/hostess gifts for the inevitable holiday parties.

Stay crafty!

~Laura


DIY Dog Bed Tutorial

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As a quilter I don’t use a lot of home decor fabric.  I was just introduced to Crypton Home Decor fabric that is odor resistant and spills bead and wipe up easily.  Why is this important?  Fabric.com gave us a great pet bed tutorial that you can make with any fabric, but the Crypton is recommended because of the amazing versatility and the cute dog themed patterns.

Supplies Needed

The instructions they give are great and can be easily found on their website.  But in addition to great instructions they also supplied us with a great video!

If you make one, share it with us!  We would love to see it.

-Toni

 


Meet the Hackers: Playfair

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Tomorrow starts PlayFair in New York City and Toni will be there will her quilts, patterns, pillows, and Dice Bags.  She can be found at booth 355.

 

So what is Play Fair?

Play Fair is a celebration of play and entertainment for all ages. It’s an immersive, experience-rich event for children, parents, families, and teenage and adult fans. With hands-on exhibits, awe-inspiring displays, dozens of toy and entertainment brands, and never-before-seen exclusives, attendees can feel, touch, and take home their favorite toys and games — and be the first to glimpse the toys of tomorrow!

Last year sold out so if you want to experience it for yourself you better grab your tickets now.  If you can’t join us in New York Toni will be live streaming her experience on Twitch!  So make sure you follow her.

We are super excited to be a part of this immersive experience and can’t wait to see you in New York!


Galaxy Teas

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers.

I have a small business to introduce you to. If you love tea, and I know many of you will, then this is an interesting business for you! I work a couple conventions with this gentleman, and he is the first person I have met who can make you your own custom tea blend. May I introduce the very steampunk Galaxy Teas.

Galaxy Teas sells loose leaf tea off the rack at conventions – with super cool names and flavours – and does offer to make a custom flavour for you if you’re looking for a special blend.

Whether you’re looking for a unique flavour blend for a gift for a friend, or whether you’re looking for favours for a wedding or a shower, these teas are beautifully packaged in metallic, colourful little packages with awesome labels for the awesome tea names. We have flavours like Robyn Hood’s Black Forrest and Emma Frost Vanilla Chai.  There might seem to be limited flavours available online, but don’t let that deter you. Send a message to Galaxy teas, as they have many more available that you can buy at conventions or request via email.

You can keep up to date on the shows that Galaxy Teas will be at by following on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Crafting!

~ Megan


Halloween Celebration!

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Happy Halloween everyone! I know it’s on a boring old Tuesday this year, but make sure to have some fun with it in a small way. Be it taking kids trick or treating, enjoying a scary movie, or ya know, decorating your house elaborately for the Holiday.

No, it’s not that other guy, this is a light display done by Tracy, a California music school teacher set to one of the best Halloween songs ever: “This is Halloween”. A fun watch though, I think I’d go crazy if I lived near anyone that does these big light displays. Definitely invest in some black out curtains at the every least, lol.


Fall & Halloween-Themed Knits

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Happy Eve of All Hallow’s Eve, Hackers!

With this being my favorite season and tomorrow being my favorite holiday of the year, I decided to focus on some cute, themed knitting patterns for today’s post. (I am focusing my post on knit patterns since we have some other, more experienced posters to focus on crochet patterns.)

I may not have human children of my own (and my cat, Helo, isn’t thrilled about wearing things I knit for him) but I just love some of the adorable ideas that people come up with for babies and toddlers. For example, this pattern for a little fox hat and baby mitts is not only one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, it also is a fairly easy pattern. Both beginners and experts would have little to no difficulty following this pattern and this would be a fantastic shower gift for a baby due in the fall. You will need to have knowledge of your basic knit and purl stitches but you shouldn’t need to go in to the detail of increasing/decreasing stitches. The pattern is currently marked down in price but even at it’s regular price, it is pretty affordable.

This next pattern does have at least a little crocheting, however, you can adapt it with a knitted strand instead. This too-cute pumpkin hat for babies is simple and wouldn’t require a ton of your time. And with a little change here and there, you can make it for toddlers or even adults as well.

One of the things I am most obsessed with in the fall is that it’s the perfect time of year to wear shrugs and ponchos. And for those of you who are big-time Outlander fans, this pattern from Ravelry for a Claire-inspired shrug will give you that Sassenach look with little effort and time. Find the free pattern here. (This may be the next thing on my “to knit” list since I think it’s simple and elegant and because my office building is usually set to sub-arctic temperatures.) Depending on the type of yarn you choose and the pattern, shrugs and ponchos can be worn year-round as well.

Because the fall weather can be crisp, I wanted to share one more pattern to help keep you warm from head to toe: leg warmers. While this may bring some of you flashbacks to the days of Flashdance, these simple items are a great way to keep toasty in the brisk weather, whether going out on a blustery day or just bumming around you home with a mug of tea or cocoa. A lovely pattern for chunky yarn leg warmers can be found here.

The best part of fall is the crisp, clean weather, in my opinion. Knitting and crocheting provide stylish ways to keep warm and it’s a great skill to have and hone. And as usual with my posts, these items all make for great gift ideas too!

Keep warm, Hackers! And stay stylin’.

~Scribe Sarah~

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Last Minute Mania

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Happy Sunday, all!

I know most of the Halloween parties probably took place last night but there are still some purists that celebrate on the day itself or some of those that would like to have more attendees and wait for the following weekend. So if you or even the kiddos have been invited and you still haven’t figured out that perfect costume, maybe one of these will spark your creativity.

First up is one of my absolute favorites for a couple from Creating Really Awesome Fun Things (not just because the Art of Chill came out this year), Bob Ross with Happy Tree:

Complete with Peapod the squirrel!

A lot of this, save the squirrel and magnificent hair could come from your own closet, which I love. Simple, yet effective. Other accessories could include an easel and painting if you feel so inclined!

My second pick comes from another wonderful childhood memory (and not JUST because the memes on the subject have been fantastic), this DIY Arthur tutorial from LaurDIY:

I would definitely encourage some red Chuck Taylors and a backpack to complete the look.

A warning on that tutorial – she is VERY perky so I would recommend having at least one cup of coffee in you if you are watching early in the morning (not that I learned that from experience or anything). Ultimately it’s really a tutorial for the ears, which could be used for a variety of other possibilities as well.

Third up is a truly terrifying costume…and by terrifying I mean if you are an animal lover and a Pixar fan. Because Amy from Amy Ever After has come up with a brilliant Darla from Finding Nemo costume, complete with tutorial:

The horror! Just don’t use a real fish, please.

I may honestly have to try that one in the future. Brings back fond memories of the year the husband and I went as Vanellope Von Schweetz and Wreck It Ralph:

Pardon the crappy lighting and Ralph trying to look grumpy.

I used this tutorial from The Lovebugs Blog for the tights and movie screen shots for reference on the other pieces. It was super fun to make and took only the bare minimum of sewing (for the bright pink yarn on the hoodie).

One of my most favorite things about Halloween costuming is the kiddos because, let’s face it, they are just too cute. Like this amazingly adorbs scuba diver costume for toddlers from Ali Schroeder:

OMG, the binkie attached to the “oxygen tank” and the tiny flippers. I can’t even, you guys.

Or this equally sweet, freaking darling snail costume from Oh Happy Day:

If you have any brown packing paper laying around from your last Amazon order, this is a great way to upcycle!

The last one I have to offer today literally made me giggle with delight. My fellow hackers, this Little Dude costume from Skirt As Top is something I keep in my heart as #parentlifegoals:

This is definitely my El Duderino of choice.

While it is not a full tutorial, she does make mention of the pattern used for the bathrobe (if you feel like doing a little bit of quick sewing) and the other pieces seem easy enough to find.

So there you have it, folks! I did sort through a ton of “last minute” lists in my search so there are plenty out there. Whatever you choose to dress up as, stay safe and have a wonderfully spooky Halloween!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


How to Cut on the Bias

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If you pick up a piece of fabric, you can stretch it in three ways, vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.  This diagonal stretch is the stretchiest and is the bias of the quilt.  You may need a cut of bias for hems, bindings, or may have a pattern that calls for this special stretch.  But cutting the bias may be something new to you.

The Dutch Label Shop is where I get my special labels for the backs of my quilts.  I love the quality of the labels and the way they look on my quilts.  In addition to making a great product, they periodically blog about important things sewers should know.  One of the blogs they ran was how to cut on the bias.

Reposted from The Dutch Label Shop:

First, you have to understand two other fabric terms: selvage and grain.

WHAT IS SELVAGE

Selvage is the name given to the self-finished edges of a piece of fabric. It keeps the fabric from unravelling and fraying. Often it serves the further purpose of providing information about the producer and designer, information that is printed directly onto the unpatterned area.

When a fabric store associate pulls down a bolt, rolls it out on their cutting table, and cuts you a portion of it, they will always cut perpendicular to the selvage. Each piece of fabric will therefore have two self-finished edges, top and bottom.

WHAT IS GRAIN

Just like wood or meat, fabric has a grain. In reference to fabric, the term “grain” indicates the way the fabric is knit or woven together. Take a close look at any piece of fabric. You will notice threads running parallel and perpendicular to the selvage. This is the grain of the fabric. Take your hands and place them on a perpendicular line and try pulling the fabric. There will be no give. Do the same on a parallel line. Again, the fabric will not stretch. Cutting along a parallel or perpendicular line is cutting “with the grain.”

WHAT IS BIAS

Now, back to bias. Take your hands and place them on the opposite selvage, diagonally across from each other, and pull. The fabric stretches! This is because you are pulling along the bias, against the grain. When a pattern calls for a bias cut, it is to take advantage of this stretchy quality. Bias is the thread line which cuts the grain at a 45 degree angle.

 

BIAS SEWING BASICS: HOW TO CUT ON THE BIAS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO CUT ON THE BIAS

To easily measure this 45 degree angle, take the top corner of your fabric and fold it down to the bottom edge of the fabric, creating a diagonal fold. Cut along the fold, and voila! You’ve cut on the bias.

If you would like to see more posts by Dutch Label shop or check out their cool labels, you can find them here.


Twitch Con and Quilt Market

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We are now half way through my stretch of 4 conventions in 5 weeks!

I had such a great time at Twitch Con this past weekend.  It was my first time and it was everything I hoped it to be.  I even streamed on Twitch live from my booth every day!  Want to see what Twitch Con looked like without all the people?  I did a live stream Saturday morning.

Want to watch and interact live when I stream?  Follow my Twitch page!  Don’t want to interact but still want to watch the videos?  Subscribe to my You Tube page!

Next up is Quilt Market this weekend.  What is Quilt Market?

It is a credentialed quilt trade show.  This means you need to be a quilt shop owner, buyer, or industry professional (professional quilter, teacher, designer, or publisher).  The fabric manufacturers, wholesalers, and companies that we want to see will all be there.  This is the show where we get to see everything new coming out!  I have seen a few previews and am SUPER excited about the new fabrics I will be able to get.

I don’t have a booth so will be wandering the floor.  So make sure you find me if you want one of my collectors cards!

I will be doing a few giveaways again!!  I will only be doing a few of them on my Facebook page (not on Twitch).  So if you want to see when I go live for my Facebook Giveaways, make sure you follow me!

See you online!

-Toni