Homemade Butters

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My mother often goes on about some store-bought flavored butters that she enjoys. Upon viewing the ingredients, I was unhappy to find corn syrup solids and preservatives listed. So I decided to try mixing my own. I started by softening sticks of vegan Earth Balance butter.   I whipped the butter and then split into two to make one garlic-herbed butter and one honey-spiced butter. For the garlic-herbed butter, I added:

  • Garlic powder
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the honey-spiced butter, I added:

  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt

I didn’t measure the ingredients, but would taste test then make adjustments. And boy did I eat a lot of bread! The flavors tone down over a day as they marry together. Since my mother-in-law’s birthday was in a few days, and she just got a new bread machine, I decided to give her my first batch along with mixed dry ingredients for a bread recipe. The handmade gifts needed labels, so I placed the butters in pretty glass jars and finished with sticker labels. I placed the bread mix into a plastic zip bag then stapled a paper label across the top. The best part is that these butters can be used on so many other things besides bread. We already used the garlic-herbed butter on quartered potatoes. You could use the honey-spiced butter on sweet potatoes, pancakes, or oatmeal. The garlic butter would also be good for sauteing with vegetables or steaks.

Jenny

Flax Seed Pillows with Herbs

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For Christmas, I made flax pillows out of Anna Maria Horner’s Folksy Flannels collection. This was no easy task, mainly because I put in way too much effort. The eye pillows were easy to make, but I also made neck wraps, sinus pillows, and one wrist wrap. Each pillow had unique herbal contents. For the eye pillows, I added:

  • Lavender
  • Rose oil
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Marjoram

For the sinus pillows, I added:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Marjoram

For the neck wraps and wrist wrap, I added:

  • PureHerbs Five Oils (eucalyptus, cajeput, mullein, peppermint, wintergreen – This is great for muscle reliefs as well as opening congested sinuses.)
  • Yarrow
  • Capsicum

The tips I can offer are to make sure that there are more flax seeds to other ingredients.  I accidentally put too much lavender in my first pillow, causing it to be too light in weight. Also, I started by mixing any oils with the flax in a plastic bag a few days before sewing. Each day I would give it a shake and check the potency. Lastly, I would go the extra mile of making the herbal blends unique to your needs. I used healing herbs in the neck and wrist pillows based on the ailments of the individuals using them.

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I ordered the lavender, flax seed, and dried herbs in bulk from Ameriherbs. Their prices and quality are great, but I ordered way too many ingredients. Their products come in 1lb increments, and I often only used a couple tablespoons of some of the herbs. Also, some of the herbs I ordered were to potent to use, such as the valerian root. That stuff did not smell very well! It’s a shame, because it really relaxes you and would have been good in the eye pillows. Of course, I finished the pillows with handmade labels that included instructions for freezing, heating, and use.

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Next, I’m going to make myself one that is stomach-shaped for menstrual cramps with a  sash to tie around my waste. Subtle, no. But convenient? Definitely! And so stinkin’ cute in the folksy flannels!

Jenny

How to Make Felt Banner Garlands for the Holidays

Felt Circle Garland Banner Tutorial

I spent the afternoon crafting felt banner garlands for our Etsy store. They are so fun! I’d like to make a few for each season. But today’s were for Thanksgiving, as I had a custom order for a gal who wanted to hang hers above the children’s table at her Thanksgiving meal. I’ve also thought of making one to hang above my computer monitor at work or as gifts–the possibilities are endless! Making a felt garland is super easy and is a great way to use up scrap fabrics.

Here’s what you need:

  • Felt: I buy mine by the yard off a bolt. I keep a natural color and heather gray on hand.
  • Fabric: Pick three to five colors that go well together. Or, use up some of your scrap pieces.
  • Double-sided fusible interfacing: I use Pellon. Anything that will let you fuse two pieces of fabric together without sewing works well.
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Font/Typeface: If you aren’t comfortable free-handing your letters, consider pulling up a favorite font and typing your chosen word. I’m able to freehand just fine when staring at a typeface in front of me, but otherwise you can print the letters in reverse, cut them out, and trace them.

Each letter will include three layers of felt/fabric. Start by choosing a word. I recommend keeping it short for the first project! Maybe 3-6 letters long. I gave some tips above for helping you draw the letters, so if you chose one of those methods then be sure to have that part ready to go. Also, consider the final length–do you have a specific spot in your house in mind? If so, keep that measurement in consideration. Next choose your fabrics – this is the fun part! Make sure they serve as a good background to the felt color you chose. Once you have all these decisions made and materials gathered, then heat up your iron because you’re ready to begin!

How to make felt garland fabric banners

Materials for Felt Garland Banners

How to assemble the garland:

Cut out the felt circles. These will be the biggest and will go on the bottom layer. I usually grab something circle in shape around me, trace it, and cut a couple layers of felt out at a time. Mine are normally 3″ to 3.5″, depending on big I’d like the final garland to be. The circles don’t have to be perfect, as oblong shapes can add to the handmade charm. I find it easier to cut out the circles using scissors.

Iron on the fusible interfacing. You will need to fuse interfacing to the patterned fabric and to the letters. But, you’ll want to do this before you cut out any shapes or letters.

For the patterned fabric: Allow enough patterned fabric to cut out circles slightly smaller than your felt circles. I often only cut out one or two circles from each print, so the original pieces I start with are small rectangles, around 4″ x 12″ or so.

For the felt letters: Cut out a large piece of felt, big enough to cut out all of your letters. Make sure you add some extra inches, just in case you need to redo any mistakes when drawing your letters!

Now follow the instructions on the fusible interfacing to apply it on the back of your large pieces of felt and fabric. Be sure to get the exposed adhesive side down on the back of the fabric and leave the paper on to protect your iron!

Cut out circles from your patterned fabric. I make this slightly smaller than the back felt circle, and I normally make these messy. I use the rotary tool to whip these out, making each one a little different. If you want a cleaner look, I’d recommend tracing a circle on to the back papered-adhesive, then cutting them out.

Cut out the letters for your word. This is the most challenging part of the fabric, but mine have gotten so much better with each garland. Read tips in the list of materials. The most important thing to remember is to cut and draw them to read properly from the front of the felt, not on the backside that has the interfacing paper! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve drawn beautiful letters on the back on the interfacing paper, cut it out, then realized it read in reverse. Sometimes I make the letters on the taller side so that it hangs off the patterned fabric a bit, but be sure to keep it smaller than the bottom circle of felt.

Fuse the pieces together. Now that everything is cut out, you can assemble the pieces. Peel the protective paper off of the fusible interfacing, then layer the bottom felt circle, the patterned circle, and the letter on top of each other. You can iron all three layers at once. Once they’re cool to touch, I pick at the layers to make sure I didn’t miss a spot with the iron. Thank God for fusible interfacing, because I don’t like sewing!

Make slits on each letter circle. In order to feed the twine/ribbon through each piece, I make tiny slits on each side of the letter circle using the rotary cutter. Don’t make the slits too big or else your knots will pull through. Also, don’t put it so close to the edge that it could easily tear if yanked upon. Be sure to make the slit on the top third of the circle to keep your garland from flip flopping. Sometimes, I line the letter circles up on my cutting mat, lay down a metal ruler, then make all my cuts in order to make sure they’re consistent. But more often than not, I’m comfortable eyeballing it. Whichever works for you! I’m sure there’s a fancier way of making holes for the ribbon/twine, maybe with grommets, but this method looks fine to me.

Cut your twine/ribbon. I fancy twine, but either will work. I assemble my garlands in two different way: by cutting individual short pieces, and knotting them to keep from slipping through the holes or by using one long strand and slipping each letter circle onto one strand. Regardless, I will loop the ends and knot the twine as a way to hang it. When using one long strand, I will wrap masking tape around the end of my twine to make it easier to feed through the tiny slits. I think they look best with little room between the letter circles, but play around first before finishing your garland. Assemble the garland and then you’re finished!

If you want yours to be fancier, you could embellish the pieces between stages with embroidery, sequences, beads, buttons, etc. You could also use an icon on one of the circles. For example, one time I did a tree in replacement of a “Y”. Please be sure to post a photo of your garland in the comments below so that we can see how you approached this versatile project! Happy Crafting!

Jenny