Thursday, April 30, 2009

Car Seatbelt Sleeves Tutorial Revisited

Two years ago, I wrote a tutorial for making your own Car Seatbelt Sleeves. They protect my neck from chafing or potential decapitation from the seatbelt slicing through my neck.

The set I made back then is worn out now, so I’ve made a new pair using Heather Ross’ Mendocino line. Life is good when mermaids cheerfully frolic about without a care in the world.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Using pieces of my hoarded collection of mermaid fabrics meant for a future quilt actually gives me palpitations. I mitigated the impact by backing this new pair of seatbelt sleeves with a tiny checked fabric in my stash.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I love my new seatbelt sleeves. If my heart can bear the loss from my treasured stash, I think I’ll re-make some other car accessories that are wearing out, too.

You can see an embroidered set and a children’s version here.

For a printer-friendly version of my Car Seatbelt Sleeves tutorial, click here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crafting with Nature: Rune Rocks

Like everyone else on the planet, I have worries. They generally involve concerns over the safety and well-being of my family, friends, and home.

Creating something positive is my instinctive response to worrying. For today’s project, nature provided a great canvas for me—simple river rocks found in the wash (if you don’t live in Arizona, think ditch or culvert) tumbled in from who-knows-where during our annual monsoons.

I made protective rune rocks to stand guardian near the access points to our home and property. This is a project I’ve done before, but the need to make a new set directly correlates to the mounting worries in my head. It’s time to let some of my concerns go.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Appropriate runes representing protection found here gave me a series that felt right to me. After drawing them, my Dremel tool worked perfectly for carving the symbols. The rock in the picture is shiny because I washed away the dust from the carving process. The rocks are placed discretely near doors, gates, and so on to prevent anyone stumbling over them—which would certainly contradict their purpose.

Knowing I’ve done something besides just common-sense protection efforts makes me feel our personal space is truly a sanctuary and only good can cross our boundary lines. I’m doing my best to keep all that’s precious to me safe.

It seems ironic that working with the weight of rocks makes my load feel lighter somehow. Amazing the lessons a chunk of rock found in nature can teach us, isn’t it?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reusable Makeup Remover Pads

Every one of us who sews has scraps of fabric in our stash we can’t bear to throw out. It’s wasteful, for one thing, but it’s also because we love the fabric or we wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place. Finding projects to use my fabric scraps makes me ever so happy.

I saw a tutorial on about making your own Reusable Makeup Remover Pads and quick popped over to the Sproutz blog for her easy tutorial.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Sproutz made hers using charm squares and Minky fabric, but I don’t have either and wanted to use whatever resources currently reside in my stash. A piece of April Cornell fabric and white flannel did the job for me. I modified her tutorial a bit by cutting my pieces 3½-inch instead of her 2½-inches square.I love this project; it’s useful, pretty, green in respect to reusing the pads, and now I’m plotting making a whole pile of them.

Wouldn't these be great in spa gift sets, the guest bath, and tucked in a travel toiletry bag? Now I'm thinking about making more for use in applying lotions and other beauty potions.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Kitchen April 2009 Challenge: Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This is my third Daring Kitchen challenge. During the last two, I noticed the other bakers’ presentations were much nicer than mine. I worked a bit extra on this aspect for April’s challenge, but I still need to gain more practice and confidence in terms of presentation.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Instead of making a regular cheesecake, I baked individual cakes in phyllo nests, somewhat like making cheesecake danishes. This made it much easier to share with our neighbors. I used four layers of phyllo dough for each cake, “painting” each layer with melted butter before adding the cheesecake mixture. After baking and cooling, I added blackberries and fresh mint leaves. My other change to this very easy cheesecake recipe was adding one tablespoon of cinnamon to the batter.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake


  • 2 cups/180 g graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 stick/4 oz butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp./24 g sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz. each (total of 24 oz.), room temperature
  • 1 cup/383 g sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup/8 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
  • 1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

You can find variations of this recipe (such as adding lavender) at Jenny Bakes. If you’re interested in joining us for our monthly baking and cooking challenges, you can all the information here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Blessings Friday: Fun Things

Here are a few blessings I’m enjoying this week.

The Great Fabric Round-Up Shop Hop

Quilt stores located in southeast Arizona collaborated to sponsor “The Great Fabric Round Up”, an opportunity to visit their stores this week. At each store, your official Shop Hop Trail Card is stamped and you’re given a free quilt block pattern and other gifts. For example, The Quilt Basket gave us each a copy of Dorothy Kinsley Wray’s book Garden Party: Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilts and More. I tried to find a source for the book for you, but suspect it’s a now-defunct vanity press formerly operating in Tucson.

Junie Necklace

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Clarice of Storybook Woods made this necklace and named it for me. It’s so wonderful to enjoy handmade blessings from friends. True treasures, that’s what each and every thing is to me. Thank you, dear Clarice. You can find her products at her brand-new Etsy shop.

Amy Butler Softwares

Amy Butler has partnered with The Electric Quilt Company (ECQ) to offer Amy Butler Softwares, a CD with 22 sewing projects you can customize via your computer—slated for release May 15.

I’ve pre-ordered my copy of Amy’s new CD from ECQ. You can see some of the new projects here.
Mama Mia!

The cast of the musical Mama Mia! is here in Tucson as part of their North American Tour. My husband loves this musical, so he and some other folks at work scored tickets for tomorrow—ought to be a blast.

Your Comments

Source: Graphic courtesy of Cathe at Just Something I Made blog

Do you know how much fun it is to read your comments? A lot of times you offer bits of help along with lots of encouragement and cute notes—it’s awesome. I thank each and every one of you. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cedar Sneaker Stuffers Tutorial

Whether you’re a runner, walker, or just like wearing athletic shoes, as the weather warms up our shoes are getting their own sweaty workout. I was reading this month’s issue of Woman’s Day and saw an ad for Sports Sox which purportedly help solve the stinky shoe issue. The ad was promptly snipped and added to my shopping list.

Inspiration hit me yesterday while looking at a bag of fragrant cedar mulch my husband bought for the garden. I can make my own sneaker stuffers using a bit of the cedar chips.

Updated Apr. 24, 2009: Pat (Millie Fiori Favoriti blog) left a very helpful comment that you can find bags of cedar chips where pet products are found; e.g., cedar shavings/chips for hamsters. I think that’s a much better solution than my picking through a silly bag of gardening mulch.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I used pieces of April Cornell’s fabrics leftover from my quilt blocks project last week. Two cedar stuffers were made for my husband out of the plaid fabric and two for me from the floral.

Cedar Sneaker Stuffers Tutorial

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Supplies (for 2 stuffers)

  • 2 pieces of fabric, each cut 3-inches wide by 16½-inches long
  • Cedar chips or shavings (ours was bought at Ace Hardware)
  • Thread to match
  • Scissors

Step 1: Fold each piece in half with right-sides facing (You will now have a piece 8¼-inches in length).

Step 2: Sew each of the long sides with a ¼-inch seam and turn right-side out (leave the short end open for stuffing).

Step 3: Stuff with your cedar shavings (doesn’t have to be too full).

Step 4: Turn open short end under and slip-stitch shut.

Now we’ll see whether these little cedar pouches work.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dancing Hermès Carmen Key Holder

I love Hermès’ lambskin Carmen Key Holder, but the $195 price tag is too extreme for me.

Source: © Hermè (per their copyright guidelines)

A couple of online tutorials (see Resources below) helped me make one for myself yesterday out of a lambskin leather skirt I found at Goodwill (as suggested by the authors). Although the Hermès version uses brightly-colored leather, all I could find was black. I’m happy nonetheless.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Hermès showcases their products with delightful little illustrations. I decided to do a little watercolor version myself. The key holder reminds me of the black costume Odile wears as the Black Swan in Swan Lake, so I painted a ballerina. Hmmm…maybe the leather “dress” is more a Goth version of the ballet costume. Anyway, I gave my little ballerina a pair of Hermès signature-orange ballet slippers.

I’d like to say something about copying originals—I made this key holder strictly for myself and not for any commercial venture. Hermès originated the design and deserves accolades for doing so. If you see a copy of it for sale on Etsy or some other venue, please don’t buy it. I don’t know if it’s the company’s intent, but I appreciate Hermès’ utilization of small leather pieces that might otherwise be discarded.


Tutorials may be found here:

  • Betsy Ross’ Journal Leather Tassel Tutorial (Apr. 2008)
  • Desiree Haight Photography DIY Hermes Key Ring (Jan. 2009)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Craft:Along 2009: April Pantry Organizing

Kelli and Finny's April Craft:Along Project gave us three options:

  1. Pantry Organization
  2. Sew Best Bunnies
  3. Make Felt Pouches

  4. My choice is to simply clean and reorganize my pantry, although I don’t have a pantry per se, just cabinets. While there are great ideas about using chalk paint and so on, I really just want a clean and organized pantry.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    Over time, it’s easy for things to get shoved in the pantry and soon you’ve no clue as to what you actually have. I took everything out, gave the cabinet a good scrub, and checked each product for its expiration date and dealt with it accordingly.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    I used rolls of non-slip liner to line the cabinets after scrubbing them. It was a simple process of measuring and cutting out the pieces to fit. I like this solution better than contact paper because I can take out the liners and wash them in the sink when needed.

    TIP: Rubber drawer lining can also be used for sewing machine mat backing, slippers, children’s footed-pajamas, and so on.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    Here’s my newly-organized “pantry” cabinet. The storage jars are some I already had, purchased from Martha Stewart’s online store years ago. They fit on one of my shelves perfectly.


    • Craft:Along 2009 Flickr group
    • Africankelli's pantry story story
    • Not Quite Vintage pantry story
    • Out of the Crayon Box pantry story

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Who Are Your People?

    If you live anywhere near the Mason-Dixon Line, a traditional southern question when meeting someone new is “Who are your people?” It’s just about the first question you ask someone. It’s not meant to be rude but a way to understand familial associations. In today’s more transient world, this often brings a blank stare in response. For born-and-bred southerners, however, learning about a new acquaintance's family tree is our way of making connections.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    North Carolina is one of the original thirteen colonies, my birth state, and where I call home. My mom stitched a piece in 1985 to honor our state but never got around to doing anything with it. I made it into a pillow over the weekend as yet another of my “Spring to Finishprojects.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    In a lovely bit of serendipity, Miss North Carolina USA Kristen Dalton was crowned Miss USA 2009 last night. In case you’re southern and need to know about her people, her mama was a Boger and served as Miss North Carolina USA in 1982. Kristen hails from my old stomping grounds of the coastal city of Wilmington.

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Love Stamp Pillow

    In 1982, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 20-cent Love stamp designed by artist Mary Faulconer of New York City. She used flowers to illustrate each letter:

    L: miniature red poppies
    O: painted daisies and miniature pansies
    V: cornflowers (bachelor's buttons)
    E: coral bells

    Soon after the stamp was issued, a cross-stitch pattern became available that I purchased and gave to my mom. I retrieved her finished piece yesterday from the box of stuff I inherited and made it into a pillow. It was one of the things on my list to finish as part of Tallgrass Studio’s “Spring to Finishproject.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    Pillows are my answer to getting a few of Mom’s projects completed since we haven’t any wall space left at our house for framed work.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    I used mid-weight decorator fabric for the backing. Although the colors in the photo look off to me, the different shades of greens in the fringe exactly match the backing fabric and colors used to stitch the leaves on the pillow’s front.

    TIP: After sewing the fringe around the perimeter of the finished needlework piece, I carefully taped it down to keep it somewhat flat and out of the way when sewing the backing. It curtailed some of the bulk and kept the gazillions of fringe pieces from getting caught in my sewing machine.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Signature Quilt Blocks

    In January, I signed up to participate in Cootie Bug 2's 2009 International Siggy Swap. Having never even seen a signature quilt, I wasn’t sure about undertaking this venture but Thimbleanna was encouraging. You ought to see the adorable thimble she embroidered as part of her signature design—it’s amazing.

    Embroidering 60 signature blocks was way out of my physical ability, so I opted to sign each piece using a Y&C FabricMate fabric pen recommended by as one of the best pens for signature quilts. The ink doesn’t bleed and becomes permanent and doesn’t fade in the laundry like the Pigma pens. The color I used was the perfect shade to match the fabrics which made me happy.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved. My husband insisted I smudge my signature via photo editing—apparently there are signature thieves running amok in the world.

    The fabrics for the corner pieces are from April Cornell’s collection. The middle signature fabric is a very pale peach made by Timeless Treasures.

    We all used the same pattern kindly provided by a lovely German quilter, Bea of Capricorn Quilts. According to America’s Quilting History (see Resources below), quilts using the same block design for each person is called a friendship quilt. One using different blocks based on individual choice is called a sampler album quilt. Either way, signature quilts are messages of caring.

    What fun it’s going to be exploring each of the 60 “friend” blocks I’ll receive in return and then making them into a finished quilt. Caring for each other through textiles and our individual skills—don’t you just love that?


    • Album Quilts: A Look At These Fascinating Signature Quilts
    • America's Quilting History: Friendship Quilts: Precious Remembrance
    • Album & Signature Quilt History, 1830-Today
    • International Quilt Study Center & Museum
    • Labels and Signature Blocks
    • Signature Quilts

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    Spring to Finish: Doll Pillow

    Tallgrass Prairie Studio has a project going on to motivate us to finish what we’ve started by April 30. Since I have a backlog of things, I’m welcoming the encouragement.

    Some unfinished projects are actually pieces from my mother that she didn’t have a chance to complete before she died. I’m slowly going through those and taking care of them. It’s emotionally harder for me to deal with my mother's things, so I’m starting with my own pieces.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    About 20-something years ago, I cross-stitched this doll piece from a pattern I no longer remember. What I planned to do with it is buried somewhere in my memory, but I’m positive it was something I was making for my daughter. Yesterday’s musings over what to do resulted in the idea of making a simple little pillow.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    I wanted small curved fabric pieces using the backing fabric for each corner and added those in right before the final sewing process.

    © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

    It feels better to have one less thing in my stash.