Archive for January, 2012

Valentine Vignettes and Cookies

January 30, 2012

Last night, I finished the arduous task of Fall Quilt Festival faculty and curriculum selection. The file boxes are parked by the back door waiting for my husband to load them in my car to take to the Quilts, Inc. office tomorrow. My faithful assistants, Kim and Jill, will take them from there to get out the contracts this week.

Files to office

Files Ready to Go to Office

So today is my day to invite you in for a visit. I’ve baked heart-shaped sugar cookies and decorated our home with multiple Valentine vignettes just for you. Want to come in?



This morning, after going to my much loved and needed yoga class, I came home and started right in to make cookies for our visit. I turned on the Love Channel on our XM Satellite Radio, lit a vetiver and shaved vanilla soy candle, and got out all the ingredients.

gather all ingredients

All Ingredients Ready

The recipe I use is one I have had since early marriage and have given to many friends. There are a few things I do differently than most sugar cookie recipes. I’ll tell you about those as I make the cookies along with the recipe.

Grammy’s Sugar Cookies

Ingredients: 1 cup margarine or butter, 2 cups sugar, 2 whole eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 4 cups flour, 1 tablespoon vanilla

Cream together margarine or butter and sugar.

Blend in eggs.

Sift together the salt, baking powder, and flour.  Then, gradually add to the mixture.

Add vanilla to mixture and beat until smooth.

dough in mixer

Mix Dough Until Smooth

Do not refrigerate dough. Divide into 3 parts. Roll one part at a time. Put left-over dough from each rolling all together for fourth and last part.

Flour pastry cloth and sock by rolling pin on floured cloth. Take one part of dough and turn over a few times on cloth to coat with flour.

Dough part

Turn Dough on Floured Cloth

Roll out 1/8″ thick on pastry cloth. Each time, you take another part of dough to roll out, you need to flour the pastry cloth again.

At Christmas, a friend of mine wanted to make my sugar cookie recipe, but she was stumped when I told her to use a pastry cloth and a sock on the rolling pin. She searched the internet and found these items.

I’ve had mine since I was married many years ago. I’d since worn out the sock, but used the top of one of my husband’s tube socks…washed of course. Now I have a new pastry sock thanks to Willie. She bought a set for me when she got hers. I use the pastry sock, but still using the old pastry cloth as it hasn’t worn out yet. I also roll out pie dough using the pastry sock and cloth. Wash and dry these by machine after each use before putting away.

When dough is rolled out, cut with cookie cutters. If the dough does not come up with the cutter, use a spatula to lift it off the pastry cloth.


Use spatula to Remove from Pastry Cloth

Place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.

sprinkle cookies with sugar

Sprinkle Cookies with Sugar

I have a large assortment of heart-shaped cookie cutters and can’t begin to use them all each time I make Valentine cookies. I have a friend who loves these cookies and likes nothing better than to receive them at Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Recently her sugar intake has been cut back drastically, so she loves the little cookies that are just bite size. Then, she’s able to still have bits of sugar cookies. So all sizes come in handy.

cookie cutter assortment

Heart-shaped Cookie Cutters

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. I find I have better luck if I bake only one cookie sheet in the oven at a time. Cool single layer on waxed paper. I bake different sizes on a single cookie sheet because some friends and family like their cookies cooked crispy while others prefer theirs barely brown. This way everyone is happy and that’s a good thing.

bake and cool on waxed paper

Crispy or Barely Browned

Cookies are finished, and tea is ready. Would you come for tea now?

cookies ready for tea

Please come for tea.

Now would you like to see the Valentine vignettes I did for you? As the quote goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Valentines at window

At My Kitchen Window

round of hearts

Hearts with Covered Basket

table runner

Table Runner on Coffee Table

Friendship Heart quilt

Friendship Heart Quilt

vignette on entrance table

Table in Entrance

vignette 4

Valentine Collage


Handmade Valentine

Vignette 3

Vintage Valentine Hankies

Vignette 2

Things for Little Hands to Touch

vignette one

Vignette with Granddaughter Pictures

hanging heart sample on chair in entrance

Hanging hearts can also be pillows on chairs

Happy February and Valentine’s Day from my home to yours with love,



Play Date #2 Heart Pillow

January 15, 2012

Each of the holidays throughout the year is special to me for one reason or another. I decorate our home for each of these holidays or seasons, and many of the decorations are things I have created over the years. This past week I decorated for Valentine’s Day so my husband and I and any guests or family who visit can enjoy the decorations, too. In a later blog, I will show you little Valentine vignettes, but today I want to show you how to make another kind of Valentine.

The instructions for how to make this Heart Pillow are much the same as those I showed you in Play Date #1 on making Valentine Cards. You will gather some of the same supplies. My studio work table is covered with things to use for making both Valentine Cards and Heart Pillows. The pillow starts with a batting foundation, and the card starts with a paper foundation. Today let’s make the pillow.

Embellished heart

Embellished Hanging Heart

Here’s a list of things you will need: batting (I use Warm and Natural because of its firmness.), stuffing, ribbon, fabric scraps, lace, photos, sayings/quotes, buttons, beads, trinkets, patchwork pieces, mixed media samples, ephemera, glue stick, basic sewing supplies and sewing machine.

Are you ready? Let’s get started:

  1. Make a heart shape pattern. The largest heart pattern I use starts with a 10″ square of paper. Fold a square of paper in half and cut half of a heart. Open. If you are pleased with the shape and size, cut a foundation using this pattern from batting.

    batting foundation

    Cut heart pattern from batting

  2. You can cover the entire foundation with one piece of painted fabric, vintage embroidery, tea towel or quilt piece, etc.  Or, you can use bits and pieces of a combination of fabrics to patchwork the foundation. If you choose the patchwork method, start by pinning a piece of fabric right side up in the center of the heart foundation. With right sides together, stitch and flip fabric pieces out from the center until you have covered the foundation heart shape. Stitch the outside close to the edge and trim fabric even with the foundation heart.
  3. Embellish the patchwork with ribbons and laces or other trim. Add the photo, quote, and any other elements you have gathered to create an interesting and pleasing design. Pin and/or use a tiny amount of glue stick to hold the objects in place until you have stitched them to the covered foundation. When you are pleased with your design, straight stitch and/or zig zag the elements to the fabric covered foundation. Embellish further with machine or hand stitching or trinkets, buttons, beads, etc.

    Covered foundation

    Cover foundation with fabric and embellishments

  4. Cut a backing fabric using the finished heart design as a pattern. It’s possible your original heart may have shrunk slightly with the stitching and embellishing.
  5. Cut a ribbon for hanging the heart approximately 12″ long. Pin right sides together to the very top of the patchwork heart. Pin old or new lace straight edge to the outside edge of the heart, right sides together. Some lace needs to be gathered to hang nicely while other lace, usually hand crochet, needs only a slight amount of gathering to the heart front. Stitch lace and ribbon to the heart.

    lace and ribbon attached

    Pin ribbon and lace right sides together to pillow edge

  6. Pin backing heart shape right sides together with embellished heart. Stitch leaving an opening on one side large enough for you to put your hand in to stuff it. Clip top center and curves to stitching. Turn right side out. Tug gently on ribbon and lace to get the edges out. Fill  heart with stuffing and potpourri, if you like, until firm. Pin and stitch opening closed.
  7. If you want to decorate the pillow further with keys, small bottles, buttons, flowers, stickers, etc. use a glue gun to adhere to outside of heart.

    Be Mine finished

    Be Mine Heart Pillow Complete

  8. Enjoy hanging in your home, or give away to someone special.

You can see other samples of these heart pillows in my etsy shop. Just click the etsy link on the right side of this post to go there. I will have these heart pillows, Valentines and some heart designs on canvas at my nephew’s art party and sale on February 4th. If you are interested in attending, let me know and I’ll email you an invitation.

It’s been fun showing you another way I use lots of my embellishments. I hope you will express your creativity and make some of these memorable, treasured greetings for youself or someone special. Please let me hear from you and send pictures to my email address. I’d love to show them on my blog before the end of February. Happy crafting until we meet again.

Bright heart

Bright Pink Heart from paper and fabric

Kids Can Create, Too

January 10, 2012

The new year began with taking care of our oldest grandchildren in McKinney, Texas while our son and his wife took a little trip.

Madison, now almost 15 years old, began creating when she was two years old. She was photographed with me in my book, In the Studio with Judy Murrah when she was 3 years old.  The photographer asked how we would get her to do something he could shoot for the book and I told him all we had to do was let her in the studio and she would begin to create. She loved my design wall and would “decorate” anything that was up there.

Madison in studio

Madison in my studio at three years old

She later advanced to cutting and pinning fabrics and trims on my mannequin to create quite amazing wearable art. She now excels in drama in high school and has won awards for her costume design. I have always had so much fun with her and her love of playful creations.

Tyler, her brother, has also enjoyed creating a few things sewing on my machine. I think the mechanics of it has been more of an attraction to him than the end result. Now at almost 12 years old he tells me how to operate anything that has to do with computers. They are both dear children and I am in awe of them.

Granddaddy, Tyler and Madison in McKinney, Texas

Granddaddy, Tyler, and Madison

This past week end my husband and I took care of our three younger grandchildren in our home. Our daughter was on an annual scrapbook retreat to create pages with all the supplies she has collected and photos she has taken of her children.

Lindsey, who soon will turn 9 years old, and sister Sydney, who is 6, could not wait to create Valentines in my studio during the time they spent with us. Ashton, their almost 4-year-old brother, would rather tackle and distract his sisters than work on a project so Granddaddy tried to convince him to swing outside or color in the playroom while we sewed.

Ashton wanting to play too

Ashton clowning with the girls

Remember that studio table that was all cleaned-off on New Year’s Day? Well look at it now in action with these busy little girls. They took to designing their cards like they have done any project we have done together. They love to create in their jammies at the end of the day as their Grammy does too. I bet you do the same. I’m so glad I have drapes to close at the end of the day and drapes to open to the sunlight in the morning.

Sydney and Lindsey creating their designs

Sydney and Lindsey creating from all the supplies

Sydney is still too small to sit at the machine and sew on her own so she sits on my knee and controls the material as I operate the pedal. We make a good team and she gets much satisfaction out of her creation. She begs to sew every time she comes to my house. She and Lindsey have their own scrap drawers in my studio and know exactly what’s in them.

Sydney glueing ribbon

Sydney glueing ribbon to her creation

Lindsey is big enough now to use the machine by herself with no problem. She remembers each step of putting down the presser foot, turning corners, back stitching, cutting the thread when she has finished her stitching, etc. She takes very little guidance and is quite patient at finishing a project.

Lindsey sewing

Lindsey sewing on the machine by herself

The little girls are quite proud of the Valentines they made. Sydney adorned earrings for this monumental photograph. I love their enthusiasm to sew. Aren’t I the lucky Grammy to have three granddaughters who want to spend time in my studio creating with me. I would love to hear about your experiences creating with kids. I know you have had some great times, too.

Lindsey and Sydney so proud to show their Valentines

Lindsey and Sydney so proud to show their Valentines

Play Date #1 Valentines

January 6, 2012

Do you remember making Valentines when you were a child? Didn’t you love pasting the doilies and red hearts to a piece of construction paper and then writing your heartfelt message in crayola? The real excitement came when someone special opened the card you made especially for them. Remember?

Assortment of Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day!

Let’s have that fun again making fabric and paper Valentines. All you need is cardstock, envelopes, glue stick, ribbon, fabric scraps, lace, photos and messages on paper or fabric, buttons, trinkets and your sewing machine. After you get the hang of creating cards you will want to make a personal Valentine for all those who are special to you.

Friend Valentine

Patchwork background for Friend Valentine

I have made Valentine cards as small as 3″ x 4″ and as large as 7″ x 9″. The samples here measure 5″ x 8″. First select envelopes and then cut cardstock 1/4″ smaller on top and one side so card will fit nicely in envelope when complete. You will need two pieces of identical size cardstock for each card you make.

Cover one side of one piece of cardstock with bits and pieces of fabric. Sometimes I cover the whole piece of cardstock with a fabric I have painted. No need to turn under edges. Glue stick fabric to cardstock. Stitch down all edges including the outside edges.

Cardstock blank and covered with fabric

Cardstock blank and covered with bits of fabric

Play with the assortment of materials you have gathered and place them on the stitched fabric. You can follow the lines of the patchwork to place ribbons, lace, and trims.

Add photos and other materials to make your composition. When you are pleased with the results remove the foreground pieces and glue the background materials to the fabric and stitch through cardstock. There may be larger elements you may want to fuse to the foundation fabric before stitching.

Attach ribbons, lace, and trims

Attach ribbons, lace, and trims.

Next stitch with a straight stitch or zig zag stitch or a combination of stitches to anchor the components in the foreground. I use the same color of thread throughout the entire card. Do not make stitches too close together or your needle and thread will cut through the paper.

Valentine example complete

Your Heart Valentine complete

Add trinkets, buttons, stickers, etc. for a finishing touch. I sometimes use a glue gun for adhering buttons and charms.

When your stitching is complete use a glue stick to attach a second piece of cardstock to the back of the Valentine. This will cover your random stitching on the back of the Valentine. Stitch around outside edges only. Trim any fabric or embellishments that extend from the cardstock. The backside is now a blank space to write a personal message.

Valentine with one piece of fabric background

Valentine with one piece of fabric for background.

After you have made several Valentines you will find you have favorites. Pay attention to what you liked about your favorites and repeat that in your next card. The small pieces set aside from one Valentine may be just what you want for the next one. I can hardly wait to finish one card before I start on an idea I have for another one. I plan to make lots of special Valentines for family, friends, my etsy shop and an Art Party on February 4th. How about you?

Sweetheart Valentine

Painted fabric with elements on top

Hope you have lots of fun and a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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