Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pillowcase Bags for Brother

I had my brother's name for Christmas this year and decided to make him a bag for all his adventures.  But, then he sent a list of ideas, none of which were bags.  Well, I'd already bought the fabric and hardware, so he was just going to have to live with a bag.  Still, I wanted him to have something he wanted so I saw the custom pillowcase idea and went with it.  (Apparently he has some odd size pillows due to a groupon purchase by an ex-girlfriend.)

Well, I'd just finished watching the two free bag making classes on Craftsy (which you should definitely check out) and one of them was on a lined drawstring bag---bingo!  So with measurements of the weird pillow in hand, I calculated out what I hope is the correct dimensions for manly pillowcases. 

Yes, that is my foot in the corner!  These sheets are soft and have a kind of sheen to them.
I used two twin size sheets for these and had some of each leftover.  I picked navy and chocolate brown as colors as they would go with whatever sheets he has, don't look grungy as fast and are "manly" colors.  (Apparently he didn't want the polka dots, hehe.)  Also, sheets are pretty thick and sturdy for multiple washings and where he goes to a laundry mat (and is a single guy) I figured anything remotely resembling a delicate or casual cycle is nowhere to be seen.

The inside is reversed with chocolate for the main part and navy for the stripe.  The blue side has the drawstrings.  This makes them into pretty sturdy fabric bags that can be used for things like stuffing the bedding in when going to the laundry mat.  Not a bad idea for college kids either.

So, there you go--four pillowcases that take up the space of two!
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas for Stars

Well, once again, Stars made out like a bandit this Christmas--but he's so sweet, that it's fun to give him things.  He got lots of tasty treats from my brother including his favorite salmon bites from Zukes and a can of Taste of the Wild (the prairie one) canned food (has bison and venison and lamb in it) because my brother thought it was too cool to think of Stars eating on a buffalo.  Stars, the dire wolf baby, scarfed that stuff down like it was cheese.  Watch out Montana!

Stars likes to unwrap his own presents!  Some help from a sister is needed at times though.

From one sister he got a pile of beanie babies which he will lovingly rip out the eyes on at some future date.  (He's very particular about taking out all hard safety eyes on every toy.) From the other sister he got a really brightly colored pillow pal bear (right bottom corner in above photo) which he has happily dragged around the house to shake furiously at random moments (usually near my head).  He also likes to lay his head on it.  Mom and Dad gave him lots of treats too.

Grandma sent him a polar fleece blanket.  She makes "quilts" from polar fleece using her serger and they're quite wonderful to wrap in while reading a book.

All cuddled up in a blanket from Grandma, well, until the rather bright flash went off!
I made Stars a new bed pad for by the front door where he likes to take up watch.  You can see part of it in the above photo--its the green stripe fabric thing folded up funny on the right.  I also made him his traditional Christmas blanket and a new coat.

The blanket is made from upcycled denim and corduroy on the front and one of those plush cuddle minky throws you find in the stores.  The corduroys include a dark navy, plum, lilac, bright pink, a couple of reds and a dark teal color.  There's even three rectangles with a puffy scottie dog applique on them.  Needless to say this baby is soft and squishy, perfect to cuddle my Stars in.

Thanks sis for holding that up while I tried not to trip over Christmas presents!
 I wanted something modern and free form but not wobbly curvy.  So I stuck with strips, squares and rectangles, some of which I cut at angles.  It turned out pretty much like what I was envisioning, so I'm happy with it.

Here you can see a bit closer how the pieces are not wobbly but are skewed and and wonky sometimes to add to the overall mod art look that I was going for.

Stars adores his new quilt which he has slept under for the past few nights and guards from any who might think they're going to borrow it!

Finally a few minutes of sunshine.  Stars happily went out for photos... well, he went out happily, but he didn't want to cooperate for photos.

His new coat is from a lovely raspberry corduroy (not so pink as the photos show, more purple in it) and lined with a baby blue sweatshirt fleece sewn fuzzy side out.

Look fast!  Here's the blue lining used.  Stars was busy chasing anything he saw, so I was busy chasing him!

I used my typical Butterick 4226, this time with the collar which is rather oversized but gives a classy touch to this basic coat.  I did skip the whole add binding hassle and just sewed each piece up wrong sides together and then turned right sides out.  I attached the belly band straps and collars to the exterior body piece before sewing it to the lining body piece so that the ends would all be neatly concealed in the seams. 

See the top stitching around all the edges and the stitching for the velcro strips.
I again used the 12 inch strips of wide velcro which is something I will continue to do--it makes it easier to adjust for size changes and gives a more secure attachment.  (The last thing I need is a strap coming undone while he's tearing through the yard at top speed!)  I simply zigzag around the edges.  Also, I put the soft side on the straps that will face Stars so that he won't be irritated by the prickly side or get his hair caught in it.

A bit fuzzy because cooperating was not on the menu, but you can see the side of the coat where the straps open at.

And after being told to settle down so I could get decently focused pictures....

Little mopey face!  He really is a good little guy.  He just has a bit of a cold and was finally getting some sunshine.

So, all is forgiven and I'll just make do with chasing down a happy border collie for out of focus pictures.

There's my smile!  And a great view of the other side of the coat.
So, Stars loved his Christmas presents along with the beautiful lights on the tree and constant Christmas music, but the photo shoot was definitely over!

Enough is enough!
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Sew Buzzy November block

Just a really quick post to show you the block made for November in Sew Buzzy.

Muriel (a member from round 1) asked for the converging corners block.  She always sends lovely fabrics to work with, great taste.  Basically, the block is a log cabin but two of the corners are prints and two are solids around a center of print.  When all the blocks are together it creates a very cool looking quilt!

I like that she didn't use white for the solid, something not expected.  I'd like to do one in blues with a navy solid.

So, if you'd like to give this block a try (and its very easy, I promise) here's the tutorial from Film in the Fridge.  You'll want to make a quilt too!

I've got lots of projects to show you from Christmas, but I've got to resize the photos first.  Hope you all had a marvelous time with family and friends!
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

There's a lot, and I do mean a lot, of great deals out there.  Where will you shop?  While there are some awesome finds in stores, those lines can be nightmares and the crowds, goodness!  Avoid both with some online fun (yes, I do love the online shopping).

Here are some great places to check out (and no, I'm not a sales rep, just a happy customer):

Craftsy is offering classes for $19.99!  I'm enrolled in several (a great way to spend my RSI recovery time) and they are well produced and a fun way to take a class (because sometimes 1 AM in my pjs is the best way to learn, or at least the only quiet time).  Quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, cake making--they've got the range.  Heck, there's even a cheesemaking class on there!  Want to make a skirt--boom!  There's a class.  Learning to sew--boom!  Another class.  Modern quilt making or free motion quilting?  Well, you get the idea.

Fashion Sewing Supply is offering 15% off popular interfacings!  Those of you who've ordered from here know that Pam's interfacings just can't be beat.  There's a whole range of both sew-in and fusible, many of which are offered in both white or ivory and black.  Pick up some fusible pro-tricot deluxe and pro-sheer elegance, two of my favs.  Maybe you signed up for that shirt making class on Craftsy--don't forget the interfacing!  I like the pro-woven light crisp and pro-woven shirt crisp, two great fusibles that any shirtmaker should have on hand.  While you're shopping, get some of the elastic for skirts and pjs (I use the 3/4 inch for pjs all the time.)

Of course there are places like Amazon which runs deals all day, as well as their regular discounts on books.  (I'm such a sucker for books!) 

Patternreview has a sale going on their classes (just signed up for a couple of the online ones to try), membership fee is discounted, and they've got a sale on some of their patterns and cd/e-books!  A great community over there too!

Most of the fabric stores are having sales too.  Here's a few:

Fabric Mart
Fabric Depot (if you're near Portland, the retail location has lots of sales too)
Nature's Fabrics
Fat Quarter Shop (code "jingle" gets you 25% off) (go to their coupon corner for additional savings codes)

So check out your favorite spots (don't forget sellers on Etsy) for some great deals and have fun!

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Hug Monkey

A month and a half ago, my sister asked me to create a monkey toy for a baby shower she was attending (for her boss).  She wanted something infant safe, easy to clean, bright boy-appropriate colors and, of course, adorable.  I decided to add a bit of quirky in as well when I was sketching him up.

Presenting, the hug monkey...

Hug Monkey says "hi".
I know, totally fun and adorable.  It's the fabric, stripes make the monkey. 

Weird how the stripes underneath show up in photos but not when you're right there looking at it.  Hmm...
Because this is going to a new baby, I didn't want any possible choking hazards, so no buttons or attachments or any kind.  I also used a narrow zigzag (almost a satin stitch) around all the face parts which were also fused down.  Probably overkill, but I didn't want it to have any possibility of falling apart with (I hope) the constant handling of a baby and small child.  If this toy becomes the favorite, which would be totally awesome, then it'll get gooed and drooled on, taken everywhere, the occasional bath, pulled and squeezed, and somewhat dirty.  This monkey is prepared.

Talk to the tail.  LOL
Hug Monkey's tail is a lovely coordinating green that's been fused and stitched down.  I thought about making it a free hanging tail, but decided against it as this one will be starting life with a baby and I wasn't sure a long tail would make it through childhood (and the more paranoid side of me thought it could become a choking never know with little boys).  Arms and legs are made from some PUL fabric.  I figured those would be the most handled parts (and infants often stuff things in their mouth when teething) so the choice of PUL was for easier cleaning.  If a fabric can hold up for diapers, then it should work for a toy just fine!  And that beautiful stripey fabric?  I found a fabulous set of infant/toddler sheets (with plenty of fabric for future hug monkeys).

Quirky face and a little heart makes him super lovable!
The fabric face and heart are made from quilting cotton.  The mouth was hand embroidered.  Deliberately different sizes and set at different levels, the appendages help add to the overall whimsy of this goofy fellow.  Hug Monkey is stuffed heavily in the body for years of hugging and has a little bit in the appendages for a nice squishy feel and easy grabbing for little hands.

Overall, I think this hug monkey fits the bill.  At the baby shower, the mom-to-be had to keep taking Hug Monkey away from the toddler sibling, so he'll definitely do as this new baby comes and grows.

Hug Monkey loves you!
Update:  Mom-to-be went into the hospital with labor Wednesday.  Future hug-monkey-lover is on the way!  Congratulations to the entire family!
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

RSI or Repetitive Stress Injury

RSI.  Ever heard of it?  Maybe you've heard of carpal tunnel, which is a type of repetitive stress injury.  Well, I don't have carpal tunnel (at least I don't think I do), but I definitely have some RSI going on in my forearms and wrists.  Talk about painful...and highly annoying.

Last June, when cleaning the kitchen at the school where I work part-time, I did some way overboard scrubbing trying to get everything cleaned for summer shutdown.  The lead cook had simply stuffed pans in the storage room and left without cleaning a thing.  In fact, she hadn't really cleaned anything all year long...but that's a different story. 

Well, after four hours of scrubbing my arms were somewhat numb and dead feeling (kind of like how you feel after running a marathon) and I went home tired and exhausted to take a nap.  When I woke up my arms felt like they were on fire with pain from the elbows to the hands.  Lots of pain killers, some proDHA and some heat packs later, the inflammation went down and over about a week the pain went away and I felt better.  I didn't really think about filling out a worker's comp claim as school had closed for the summer and I was busy with everything else.  (Yes, I'm filling one out now and will try and find a competent doctor.)  With all the hassle of legal issues this summer, I didn't really do any sewing or computer work so that let my arms rest which really made a difference.

Unfortunately, after only 2 1/2 months of work (okay September was full time as I was filling in for an open position along with my shift), my arms and wrists are back to hurting--although, thankfully, not anywhere near as bad as back in June.  I've got a brace coming for my right hand (if I like it, I'll snag one for the left) and a book that, hopefully, will teach me some exercises and ways to avoid making things worse.  But, it does mean a major cut back in my extra online activities and sewing.  Which stinks big time.  Scissors...rotary cutter...not my friends right now!  Christmas is going to be hard to get ready for even with having already cut out most of my sewing projects.  (I've even got some already sewn, so that's good!)

I've got some projects already done and photographed still to share and some projects all cut out which I should be able to sew together after a bit of rest, so hopefully you'll still enjoy reading my blog.  But I would love to hear any great tips or advice you have for healing up RSI.  I really don't think the permanent use of pain pills and braces are a solution.  I'm thinking of trying some acupuncture, therapeutic exercises and such to actually heal the problem, not just mask it.  After all, I want to continue sewing and quilting and doing the things I love.  So bring on the suggestions!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Butterick 4226: Stars gets a new coat.

Last time I made Stars a coat with Butterick 4226, I made the version with the collar.  This round I made it without so that it'd be reversible.  Both layers are polar fleece with the main layer having an appliqued star and patch sewn to the back. 

Side view with the main side out.  You can see the top stitching for the velcro strips.
This time I used strips of velcro instead of two large pieces, this allows me to adjust the size better.  The appliqued star is stitched with hand sewn blanket stitching and the patch is a military one found on ebay that says "Bring in the wolf".  Kind of fits his personality, lol.  The stitching took forever, but I like the effect.  There's also blanket stitching up where the collar would be at the neckline and on the belly bands.

Fuzzy shot, taken while chasing down a border collie with a camera...not the easiest task!

Okay, a better view.  Very superhero of him.
Stars had lots of fun running around being a superhero, defending the yard from cats, squirrels and the occasional jogger.  He's very conscious of his duties to protect against the forces of evil.

Stars giving his super bark.  Yes, in his mind there's him, Bolt and Superman.  In that order.
As you can see, I skipped adding the binding and instead opted to sew the two main layers together (with the belly bands in place) pillowcase style and then turn right side out.  The blanket stitching at the neck closes the whole thing off.  As the layers are polar fleece, there's no worry about fraying.

You can sort of see how the both the shoulder and belly bands wrap nicely around without getting in the way for movement or potty times.

Using velcro instead of snaps or buttons, not only makes it much easier to put on and fit snuggly, but Stars can also lay in it without any uncomfortable bumps.  By the way, this is the look he gives me when he's had enough of holding still and playing model.
B4226 is probably my TNT for Stars.  You can cut both layers, including collar pieces, in less than 30 minutes and, if you skip the binding, you can have one sewn up in less than an hour.  I have a few more already cut and ready for some much needed sewing time on Christmas gifts.

Stars loves this jacket--in fact, he gets very upset if you try to take it off of him!  Which incidentally is why you do not see photos of the reverse side, a lovely, bright multi-star print.  Oh well.

Did I see a squirrel?
Butterick 4226: Stars gets a new coat.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Personalized Sewing Drawers

I am a big fan of personalizing one's space, maybe that comes from having the name Shayla which could never be found anywhere as a kid or maybe it comes from being squished in a small room with two sisters and zero personal space, anyway I love remaking things or just creating something new that represents me, especially for my sewing area.

Do you remember when I showed you this lucky thrift store find?

Turned out to be an Ikea drawer box, which sadly, they do not make anymore, and was just dying to be turned from bland into beautiful.  So after a bit of searching for some public domain designs, I found a bunch of fabulous children's book illustrations in primers and poem books from before 1922 (at least) to use.  Lucky me, I have a sister who is uber-talented at pyrography (wood burning) and traded her a vintage Singer sewing machine (her first real sewing machine, no, the toy one from childhood doesn't count... sniff, I'm so proud) in a sewing cabinet for some artwork.

Now check out my thrift store box...

You can see the natural color variations that come from the different bits of wood used when creating the box.  I love that little bit of quirkiness that wood has!
Gorgeous isn't it?!  And it is one of a kind!  I have two little wood boxes with children's book illustrations on them already, so I decided to stick with the theme--I just adore antique children's books.

Here's some closer views of the drawers:

Upper left drawer--currently holding my snaps, grommets, and hooks & eyes.

Upper middle drawer--currently holding doll/animal safety eyes and my sewing machine light bulbs which I always manage to misplace.

Upper right drawer--currently holding velcro.

Middle left drawer--currently holding my elastic, well some of it anyways.

Middle right drawer--currently holding my embroidery floss.

Bottom drawer--this one holds all my zippers, now they won't get bent!
When you consider that each drawer is only around three inches high, that's some crazy amount of detailing.  I tried to get images from similar time eras so that they would sort of coordinate. 

I also found larger images for the sides and top.  Here are the two sides:

This is me telling Stars, "You musn't keep running through my tulips!"
I just love this image of the little girl wading.  I wonder what she's looking for?
You can see how much little detail work there was on this one!
And the top:
I love swinging, so how could I resist this adorable image!
She also signed the bottom with a lovely little note.
I really think I got the better end of this trade.  My little thrift find is now an heirloom!  Have fun personalizing your sewing space!
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Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm ba-ack!

Wow, did everyone else have a summer like I did?!  I sure hope not.  Mine was filled with people from a local organization and city giving us plenty of harassment and legal issues (with lots of stress to match it), not to mention the lies and slander, followed by a little over a month of double shifts at work.  Big yuck!  (Ironically, two of these individuals are running for political office and one even asked me to be sure and vote for her.  Ah, yeah, right.)  I didn't get any quilting done and hardly even touched my sewing machine--I had to dust it off!  Right now though everything is quiet, so I hope that means they are going to stop finally (if not, we've got plenty of documentation to stomp them). 

But, one of my quilting bees started up again in September--just the kick I needed to get back into what I enjoy and stop thinking about a bunch of jerks.  Woohoo for fabric joy!

September's block is called My Blue Heaven and is found over at Quilter's Cache.  It's a quick and easy block to make.  I cut the squares according to the size given, but rather than cut those in half and sew a bunch of triangles, I just drew a diagonal line corner to corner through the middle of each and then sewed a 1/4 inch from the line on each side, then cut down the line.  The block ends up just a smidge over 12 inches, so squares up to 12 even (not 12.5 inches, just so you are aware).

The block isn't squared up in the photo, but it would square up to 12 inches.
This block went to Michelle (A.quilter.2) who is making a quilt all in blues.  I think it'll look fabulous and am thinking of making one myself!

Glad to be back and I've got lots of fun things to show you, so stay tuned!
I'm ba-ack!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, July 9, 2012

RATZ Swap Magnets Received

Here's the package I received this last week containing the magnets made for me in the RATZ Swap.  They were made by Mary (FairlyMerry).  She knew I liked Kaffe Fassett!  She also included a cute little handmade card and a lovely button (sigh, I do love buttons).

I've already put them in my sewing/craft area!  That note is quite fitting as I just got a Singer 201k handcrank machine, which I adore.

Besides enjoying a fun package--I've also enjoyed eating some of these cherries!

These were Rainiers and the box before were Bings--all yummy!

I finished my Anda dress this weekend, so as soon as I get another person around for photos, there'll be a little fashion show.  :)
RATZ Swap Magnets ReceivedSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, July 2, 2012

Texting While Sewing Contest

Amy over at During Quiet Time is running a quilt block contest with some really great prizes.  The contest is called Texting While Sewing and is about creating a quilt block using text fabrics.  A good excuse to go buy some if you happen to be low in your stash.  ;) 

So sort through your fabric, put on your creative thinking caps and whip up some cool blocks--you might just when yourself one of those fab prizes.
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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hexagon Magnet Madness

Finally, finished and shipped!  My RATZ Swap magnets that is.  I think I greatly overestimated my handsewing speed, haha!  But I really wanted to give tiny hexagons a try after seeing this sample by Susan (chickenfoot) that just amazed me.  I mean 3/8 inch hexagons are pretty teenie tiny and they look so cute there in her hand.  (Note to self:  teenie tiny cuteness equals double the work of simple cuteness.)

So as I was stalking my partner, I happened to see that not only does she love hexagons, almost to the point of obsession, but she also had this adorable sample of more teenie tiny cuteness marked in her favorites---and so did I!  It was meant to be.  Plus after stalking researching my partner, I discovered that she is a really amazing woman with a huge heart of gold, so I figured I'd make her something special (I know, I know.  I end up doing this on all my swaps, why?  Simply because I keep getting the most amazing, inspiring swap partners!  Really.  I think my swap mamas give me their best ones.  Ones with backstories that just floor me and make me want to go to the ninth in creating something.)

Well, the description said 1/4 inch hexagons, so I printed some up and started in on cutting.  Hmm, these were looking kind of tiny, but I needed tiny, I was making magnets.  So, I pulled out my less-than-an-inch-size bag of scraps and started pulling colors for flowers and butterflies.  Then I went about basting and sewing hexagons as usual to make the shapes.  Really, not too bad.  A bit hand cramping and blinding to sew such little buggers, but the first flower done really got me going.  Here's a tip:  have really good lighting, especially when stitching black to black with black thread, lol!

Aren't they adorable?!  Am I totally crazy now--because I want to use up the rest of super tiny scraps this way!

I backed each with a color matching piece of eco felt (I didn't know if she was allergic to wool, so I didn't use wool felt--but you could) cut in the overall shape (note to self:  in the future cut the felt just a teensy bit larger than the piece so that it's easier to stitch) and blanket stitched it with two strands from a six-strand cotton floss (I like DMC, but use what you can find.)  I also stuffed the butterfly just a bit to make it a little more interesting.  I used E6000 to glue button sized magnets to the back of the felt prior to stitching the felt to the fronts so that the backing piece could lay flat while drying. 

What do you think?  Kind of some teeny tiny cuteness going on there, isn't it?!

Edited 7/3/12:  Okay, now that my partner has received these, I can tell you who she is.  My partner this round was Caryn (Caryn211) from Nebraska.  She loved them and left me a very nice compliment on my Flickr posting of this picture, totally made my day.  If you want to know how really special this woman is, just read this article that I found when I was snooping around to get ideas.  Like I said, I just keep getting the most amazing and inspiring women as partners for swaps.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Okay, I needed a break from working on these magnets for RATZ--the 1/4 inch hexagons are making me blind!  LOL!

We had a great few days of warm, sunny weather and now I have enough strawberries for jam (I usually do a triple or more recipe at a time) and well, I've got rhubarb.  Kind of meant to be, don't you think?

Look at those juicy berries all cut up--yum!

 Warning:  This is a long and detailed post, made so deliberately, so as to guide jam-making newbies along.  It really is a simple process!  (You should also know that what I call jam is actually probably a preserve because I still have some fruit chunks intact at the end--but, you can call it whatever you want!)

So here's what equipment you'll need (besides a stove top with at least two burners, you can do it with one, but its a real pain in the neck):

  • water bath canner or really big stock pot with lid (the enamel canner is usually cheaper and wider so you can fit more jars in at a time)
  • pint or half pint jars, cleaned and sterilized
  • rings and lids to fit jars, cleaned and sterilized
  • magnet stick (really helps to get the lids out of the boiling water)
  • small saucepan
  • funnel with a good sized opening
  • paper towel or other clean, lint-free cloth for wiping jar rims
  • jar tongs
  • knife--you'll be cutting the strawberries and rhubarb
  • large stock pot for cooking jam in (large batch) or for a small batch a smaller pan 
  • wooden spoon for stirring jam
  • measuring spoons and cups (I find a 2 cup or larger measuring cup is helpful)
  • a couple of towels to set hot jars on and to cover them up
  • water
Here's the ingredients (large batch):

  • 12 cups chopped ripe strawberries, chopped/cut into 1/2 inch
  • 6 cups chopped unripe strawberries, chopped/cut into 1/2 inch
  • 18 cups chopped rhubarb, chopped into piece 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 1/4 cups lemon juice
  • 24 cups sugar (more if you like your jam really sweet or if your strawberries aren't as sweet)
(I should say that this amount of ingredients takes a very large stock pot--so if you don't have one, cut the recipe in half or quarters and make smaller amounts at a time.)

I was able to get 12 pints, 13 half-pints and one 4 ounce jar out of the large batch.  There will be a slight variation depending on how generous your measurements are, how much sugar you add, etc.  But you'll be pretty close to this.  You can also use larger jars, I just like small jam jars so I can rotate more frequently, and luckily, that's what I had on hand.

Small batch ingredients:

  • 3 cups ripe chopped strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups unripe chopped strawberries (You can round this to an even 2 cups if you want.)
  • 4 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup + 1 TB lemon juice
  • 6 cups sugar (plus extra to adjust for taste)
You're probably thinking a few questions at this point, so let me head them off with some answers.  Yes, that's a long list of equipment, but once you gather it up, it really isn't that much--I just wanted to make sure those who haven't made jam before have everything on hand. 

No, there is no powdered pectin in this recipe--honest, I didn't forget it!  That's what the unripened strawberries (these are the ones that are white or barely turning a blush of red) are for...natural pectin. 

Pretty cool tip there, right?  I was a bit shy on unripe ones, so I threw in some barely ripe ones to round it out.  You can do this, but be warned, you're jam might not set up completely.
My mom always made strawberry jam with both ripe and unripe berries, never used pectin.  There are some things you need an outside pectin source for, but not strawberries.  So save it for another jam. 

Also, that seems like a lot of sugar, but it's actually half the amount that a similar Ball recipe that uses powdered pectin calls for.  That's because pectin adds a bit of tartness to the jam that must be compensated for.  Also, I don't like overly sweet jam--I'm going to all this effort for ripe yummy fruit, I want to taste it!  But, you should have extra sugar on hand in case your fruit isn't as sweet or you decide the rhubarb makes it too tart. 

Here's my rhubarb all chopped--we have a variety that never goes fully red, so we get a kind of Christmas look!

I also have, in the past, used natural sugar alternatives such as honey, stevia and fruit juice concentrate.  Each can be successful with a bit of experimentation.  Also, some people like to add some red food coloring to brighten their rhubarb preserves, I think the strawberries add enough color and who needs more dyes in their food anyway?

If you don't have a long set of time for making jam, go ahead and chop the fruit up and put it in the stock pot--don't stir.  Cover and refrigerate.  Allow to come to room temperature (approximately) prior to cooking.  (This is what I did this round.)

Jam Time

So, let's start.  The instructions will be for the large batch, but the procedure is the same for the small, just alter the measurements and times will be shorter for cooking.  Have all your equipment gathered and jars, rings and lids clean and sterile.  (To sterilize the lids, use the sauce pan with water.  Throw in the lids and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute.  Leave in the water until you are ready to add each to a jar.) 

Wash your produce off, no need to add dirt to the mix, and remove leaves and hulls.  Chop up your strawberries and measure as you go.  Jam making is not rocket science, if you have a little extra, just throw it in.  I tend to be generous with my strawberry measurements, because, well, I really love strawberries.  Throw them in the large stock pot.  (Your stove top isn't on at this point.)

That's the size of stock pot I use--and the large batch barely fits.  (Sometimes, during the boiling, I have to quick scoop some out as it expands quite a bit!)  So if you don't have one this large or bigger, do a half recipe or you'll have it over-flowing come boiling time!

Once you have everything chopped and in the stock pot, add the lemon juice and give it a good stir to mix it altogether. 

Give it a nice stir to get the fruit and lemon juice mixed.

Go ahead and turn on the stove to a medium low.  Now, add in half the sugar, two cups at a time, stirring well to dissolve and mix all the sugar.  From now on, stir frequently to help keep the sugar from scorching and to help the fruit mush up a bit.  In between stirrings, go ahead and fill your water bath canner with around 6 inches of water.

As you add the sugar and stir, the juice starts to form.  The ripe berries will start to break down to form a good base for your jam.

As you stir, the fruit will begin to break down and juice will form.  Turn the heat up to medium.  Go ahead and add the rest of the sugar, 2 cups at a time, stirring between additions.  If the jam starts bubbling a lot, just turn the heat down a bit, until you've got all the sugar in, then return it to medium.  This next part takes a bit with a large batch, but be patient because you want the rhubarb and unripe berries to cook into a softened state.  Just keep stirring!  (Music, good conversation, etc.  help to pass the time.)

You can see the foam starting to form.  Just keep stirring it back in--at this point it isn't enough to worry about.

The jam will cook down and you may see a bit of "foam" on the top, you can skim this off if it becomes a large amount.  I've found, however, that when I'm not using powdered pectin there really isn't much foam and I can just stir it back in.  I turn the heat up just past medium when I see the rhubarb start to soften.  Using a clean spoon, take a taste test (careful it's hot!) and see if you have it sweet enough.  If not, add sugar, 2 cups at a time until you like the taste. 

Bring the jam to a hard boil, stirring constantly, for at least 1 minute.  The jam will seem to expand during the boiling process, be careful not to get burned or to let the jam overflow!  (If you find that you've underestimated your stock pot size, just scoop some out into another pan.  Keep this pan heating on another burner.  You can add it back in at the end when the boiling stops.) 

After a full hard boil, this is what it looks like.  The rhubarb and some bits of strawberry will still be intact, but are very soft.  See all that light pink foam?  That's really not a lot, so just stir it back into the jam.

After a minute, turn off the heat.  Keep stirring until the jam subsides a bit.  Carefully, remove the pot from the burner to where you plan on filling the jars.  (For me, this is an easy lift/slide onto a hot pad on the counter right next to the stove--the pot is very hot and quite heavy, don't take chances with spilling.)
Now, put the water bath canner on a large burner and turn on to medium heat, so the water can begin heating up.  Get your jars, rings, lids (still in the sauce pot), funnel, magnetic stick (or tongs to fish out lids), moistened paper towel and a scoop for transferring jam to jars (I use a large measuring cup).  I also like a towel to grip the jars with when tightening on the rings, so that I don't burn my fingers.

You can just see the pan behind the jars that I'm filling.  The jam is VERY hot, so don't take a lot of chances, try not to spread out so that you're trying to move hot dripping jam across a counter to the jars--keep the jars right next to the pot and use the funnel.  (You may also want an apron because it does splash droplets sometimes.)  Also, notice that I didn't fill the jars all the way to the top.

Put the funnel in the jar and pour in jam.  Leave 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace.  (For newbies, this just means you want to fill the jar to about 1/2 inch of the top.)  My canner is around 24 ounces and fits seven pint jars at a time, so I fill the first seven pints, carefully wipe any spills of the rims and sides, add a lid and ring (screw on finger tight, don't over tighten--it's just there to hold the lid in place and protect the rim from chipping, too tight can cause breaking).  Place in the canner.  I like to start with the center and then add jars in a balanced manner until filled.  You don't need the metal rack, but if you have one and are using it, alternating sides that you add jars can help keep it from tipping or collapsing.  (Yeah, ask me how I know.)  Leave about 1/2 inch between jars.  When the canner is full, cover with the lid and turn the stove to almost medium high.

While waiting for the water to boil, I go ahead and fill the other jars, wipe rims, add lids and rings.  These extras I place in about 4 inches of warm water (to keep the jars and jam from cooling) in other pans.  Not a lot of extra pans--stopper the sink and add some hot water, place the jars in the sink.  I started doing this a few years ago when I got tired of trying to keep things from overcooking while waiting for the chance to bottle and process them.  I've found that I can get done faster and because the jars and jam are already warmed up, I don't have to wait for water to cool down completely (or get dumped out so cool water can be put in) before adding them to the canner for processing.

Water bath loaded and going on the left.  On the right are two pans with some water on low heat.  This will keep the jars at a very warm temperature while waiting to be processed.  This allows me to finish up the bottling of jam without worrying about the jam or the jars cooling down too much.  This will lessen your chances of jars breaking during processing.

When the canner water reaches a rolling boil, allow it to boil for a full ten minutes.  After ten minutes, turn off the heat, remove the lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Carefully remove jars using jar tongs and place on a towel.  (I also hold a thick towel underneath while transferring them to the cooling counter, just in case the tongs were to slip.)  When all jars are on the towel, cover with another towel.  Place the next run of jars into the canner and turn the heat back on, cover and repeat the boiling process.  Just keep going until you're done. 

You can't really see it very well, but the jar on the left has processed and sealed--the lid is flat with a slight indent in the center.  The one on the right hasn't processed, so the lid is flat and if you push on the center it'll move up and down.  A sealed lid won't pop up and down when you push with a finger on the center, this is what you want.

When I start getting to the last few jars, I try to make sure that I have at least four jars in each run to keep them upright and balanced.  Allow all the jars to cool while covered with a towel.  You'll hear a popping sound every now and then--that is OKAY!**   The sound is simply the jar lid sealing, and that's a good thing!  Completely cooling takes hours, so go ahead and clean up and enjoy some free time--you made jam!!

Just a little fun in Photoshop!  Remember, it may be work, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the process and, even better, the results!

**If you have any jars that just won't seal after processing, you can do one of two things.  First option, replace the lid and reprocess.  Option two, let it cool, store in the refrigerator and enjoy.  If it's just one jar, I usually go with Option 2.  Why not?

I should note, sometimes I underestimate how much unripe berries I need or for some reason the jam just doesn't set up right (I've tried some "natural" brands of pectin that just didn't work).  No worries, just use your more liquid-y jam as a topping (like a chunky syrup) for waffles, pancakes, french toast or ice cream!  That's a mistake you won't mind living with, haha!

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