Autumn Bounty Challenge Quilt

I set out looking for a quilt guild a few months ago.  Of course, I had no idea what you even do when you're part of one, but the idea intrigued me and I knew it was a lot of other people who like to play with fabric.  There can't be anything wrong with that. As luck would have it, a guild had just started that was meeting about 20 minutes from me.  I still consider myself an amateur quilter, but a full-fledged fan, so I was hoping I wouldn't be out of my depth.  Turns out, this group will welcome you with open arms, even if you don't know all the quilting lingo.  It's a highlight of my month.

Recently, one of our members organized a fun event called the Autumn Bounty Challenge.

Anyone who wanted to participate was given a piece of fabric, 6 by 24".  The instructions were to use as much of the fabric as you could.  The rules were that the project had to be quilted, be no larger than 45 by 45" and have a label.  This is what we each started with:

Autumn Bounty Challenge Quilt fabric

Autumn Bounty Challenge Quilt fabric

I'll be honest, this fabric wasn't something I would have picked if I were out shopping.  At first I was at a loss as to what I should do with it.  But I couldn't bail on my first ever quilt guild challenge, so I hit the books to find something that would make me happy when it was finished while still keeping the integrity of the fabric.

I ended up finding three blocks on Craftsy by Diane Knott that I loved.  Because they're all pieced and small, I didn't even have to buy any fabric.

Pieces for quilt blocks

Pieces for quilt blocks

The first one that caught my eye was the pumpkin.

Pieced Pumpkin quilt block

Pieced Pumpkin quilt block

The next was the scrappy sunflower.

Scrappy Sunflower Quilt Block

Scrappy Sunflower Quilt Block

And of course, I had to include the leaf to tie in to the fabric print.

Leaf quilt block

Leaf quilt block

Did I mention that all three of these patterns are free?

Three finished quilt blocks

Three finished quilt blocks

These were each 8 1/2" square when they were finished, but I cut them down to 8" to better fit with the leaf print.  I cut it into six 3 by 8" pieces.  I decided to go with the black background in the challenge fabric and add black between each piece.  That worked out well, since I end up with LOTS of black strips of fabric left over from my vendor aprons!

Blocks with top and bottom fabrics added

Blocks with top and bottom fabrics added

Black strips in between…

Black strips in between quilt squares

Black strips in between quilt squares

…and around the outside.  Top finished!

Black strips around outer edge

Black strips around outer edge

And there it sat for a while.  It's a little intimidating to think about quilting something that other, more experienced quilters are going to examine.  I finally decided to bite the bullet and just do it.  I pinned the heck out of that thing though.

Quilt pinned

Quilt pinned

I thought about quilting it by hand, but in the end did it on the machine.  I'll save that monumental attempt for another project.

Quilted pumpkin

Quilted pumpkin

I went through the same thought process over the binding.  In the end, it felt more important to have it finished.  Again, I went crazy holding it all together while I sewed.

Clips to hold binding

Clips to hold binding

Surprisingly, after all that the biggest sticking point of this whole project was the label.  I've made a couple of quilt labels in the past, but I don't think one has ever made it all the way to becoming attached to the quilt it was intended for.  The tiniest thing gave me the biggest headache.  What should I put on it?  What should it look like?  Should I embroider it?  Print it?  Handwrite it?  Ugh.

I finally decided to make it look like a postcard and print it from the computer.  I LOVE it!

Autumn Bounty Challenge Quilt Label

Autumn Bounty Challenge Quilt Label

It was really fun to work with something I didn't choose, and I found I really welcomed being forced to think outside my usual little bubble.  It caused me to find a method to use something in a different way, and not cast it aside because it wasn't my style.  The challenge was completed at last night's meeting, so now I can't wait to start using this on my table.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the next challenge is going to be!

Autumn Bounty Challenge Quilt on Crafty Staci

Autumn Bounty Challenge Quilt on Crafty Staci

Friday Favorites–Fall Cleaning

I’ve never really understood why Spring Cleaning is a thing, but you never hear anyone say “Oh, it’s October! Time to start my fall cleaning!”  When spring finally arrives, don’t we all just want to get OUT of our houses?  When fall hits, and we realize we’re about to be cooped up in the dirt pit that our families have been running in and out of all summer, wouldn’t that be the perfect time to clean it up?  I’m not saying I ever actually succeed at getting my entire house clean at once, no matter what the season is.  I just think it’s time to reconsider the timing of the attempt.

Fall Cleaning DIYs - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

I haven’t taken the plunge and tried dishwasher pods or packets, but I’ll admit they intrigue me.  They seem so much easier and less messy than my method of glopping the liquid in from a little too high and splattering it on my legs.  These DIY Dishwasher Soap Packets from Lady with the Red Rocker might be just the thing for me.

DIY Dishwasher Soap Packets from Lady with the Red Rocker

I have almost all hard floors in my house.  The only place we have carpet left is the basement, so these DIY Swiffer Pads from Sew Take a Hike would come in handy.  They’re also pretty darn cute.

DIY Swiffer Pad from Sew Take a Hike

Since I do a lot of sewing, I use my iron frequently.  Oh, you can flatten your clothes with it too?  Who knew?  Anyway, it could probably stand a good cleaning, so I’ll be checking out these instructions from Homemade Mamas.

How to Clean Your Iron from Homemade Mamas

I love grinding up lemon peels in the garbage disposal.  Everything smells clean for a while.  You can have that experience any time with these Homemade Garbage Disposal Cleaning Cubes from New Leaf Wellness.

Garbage Disposal Cleaning Cubes from New Leaf Wellness

When my kids were small it seemed like we were constantly trying to get the mystery stain of the week out of the carpet.  We needed this Homemade Natural Carpet Shampoo from Surviving the Stores.

Carpet Cleaner from Surviving the Stores

I really, really do not enjoy scrubbing the showers.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.  Next time I think I’ll try this Tile and Grout Cleaner from Food. Or pay a kid to do it.

Tile and Grout Cleaner from Food

Cleaning off sticky messes is much easier with the right cleaner.  Try this 2 Ingredient Homemade Goo Remover from Spend with Pennies.

2 Ingredient Goo Remover from Spend with Pennies

Ahh, windows.  Another personal favorite of mine.  I’ve tried homemade cleaners, but this recipe from One Good Thing by Jillee has a secret ingredient I haven’t seen before.  I’ll be giving this one a try soon.

Streak Free Window Cleaner from One Good Thing by Jillee

I have a dog and a son, so Febreeze is my friend.  Now I can make it myself with this recipe from My Crazy Blessed Life.

DIY Febreeze from My Crazy Blessed Life

Let’s face it – sometimes you just want your house to smell nice, whether it’s actually clean or not.  I have a small crockpot that would be perfect for this Fall Air Freshener from Maggie May.

Don’t forget, there are still a couple of days left to enter to win the Super Stitches Sewing book!

Friday Favorites - Autumn

It’s been a pretty great week here at Crafty Staci.  I’m leaving today to attend the Schoolhouse Craft Conference in Seattle, which I’ve been wanting to do for years.  I’m hoping to come back better, smarter and faster than before, but I’ll settle for a fun weekend.  I also found out I’m going to be one of the curators for Sew Mama Sew’s Handmade Holidays series!  In the past I’ve provided one of the giveaways and had my projects featured, so it will be fun to complete the circle.

Last, but not least, meet my new toy:

My New Pfaff

My Etsy shop stays hopping, so I’ve been working with a second machine for a while now, but it was missing my favorite feature:  the built-in walking foot.  I love my old Pfaff, and found out I could buy a brand-new one that has everything I want and need, and nothing I don’t.  Now they can sit side-by-side with white thread in one and black in the other, while I glide smoothly back and forth.  Or dive frantically, depending on the day.

Another great thing about this week was the start of autumn.  I love the sun, but after an exceptionally warm summer, I’m ready for my boots and scarves. 

Autumn Crafts - Crafty Staci's Friday Favorites

We had a pretty good wind storm here recently, and the pinecones rained down like we were under attack.  I’ve got plenty of supplies to make these Homemade Pine Cone Bird Feeders from Freebie Finding Mom.

Homemade Pine Cone Bird Feeders from Freebie Finding Mom

We also have a few leaves hitting the ground already.  From what I read elsewhere, you want to press and dry them before making something like this Autumn Leaf Mason Jar Candle Holder from Spark and Chemistry.

Leaf Mason Jar Candle Holder from Spark and Chemistry

One thing we don’t have around here is acorns but I’d love to find some to make these Acorn Owls from Bloesem Kids.

Acorn Owls from Bloesem Kids

This Fall Tree “Snow Globe” from Frugal Fun for Boys is a fun take on a winter tradition.  The author mentioned the water turning brown from the twig, but I think that could be remedied by using an artificial branch.

Fall Tree Snow Globe from Frugal Fun for Boys

I can imagine so many ways to use these Happy Autumn Leaves from Moogly.

Happy Autumn Leaves from Moogly

We can’t talk about autumn without bringing out the big, orange pumpkins, can we?  These Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches from Sewlicious Home Décor are a great transition from warm weather into fall.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches from Sewlicious Home Decor

I’ve seen pumpkins made from just about everything in the craft world.  I particularly like the simplicity but unique quality of these Framed Pumpkins from Country Design Style.

Framed Pumpkins from Country Design Style

My son loves fritters, so I’m almost afraid to show him these Apple Fritters from Greek Food and Greek Life.  On the other hand, he’s becoming a good cook himself…hmm.

Apple Fritters from Greek Food and Greek Life

Need a quick, simple but cute little something sweet?  Check out these Chocolate Peanut Butter Acorns from Tikkido.  There are so many flavors of Hershey Kisses, you could really get creative.

No Bake Easy Acorns from Tikkido

I used to be really into cross-stitch.  I still do it once in a while, and love the look of it.  This Wood Plank Cross Stitch Fall Décor from Make It and Love It puts a fun spin on it.

Wood Plank Cross-Stitch Fall Decor from Make It and Love It

Now, I’ve got some sewing to do!

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes

We all know pumpkin is a fall flavor.  Sure, you can buy cans of it year round, but eating pumpkin in summer is like eating a strawberry in January.  You can do it, but it just feels weird…unless you’re my daughter. 

The kids wanted cupcakes instead of layer cake for the wedding, and there’s a local cupcake shop that makes them gluten-free once a week.  For a while, Codi was a Bella Cupcake Wednesday regular.  When it came time to place the wedding order, the one flavor she was absolutely sure about was pumpkin chai.  Thankfully, Bella was accommodating and agreed, even though it wasn’t pumpkin season for them.  Out of the four flavors, it ended up being the most popular.  Well, being the experimenter that I am, I decided to attempt my own version.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 1
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 1

First of all, let me say I cannot compete with Bella Cupcake.  I didn’t get a chance to try one of theirs (like I said, popular) but I already know these don’t taste the same.  However, for an amateur, starting-with-boxed-mix version, these are delicious. 

I made these gluten-free, but you could certainly use a regular cake mix.  Just adjust the amount of eggs and water to reflect what’s required on the box.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes

  • 1 box of vanilla cake mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup instant black tea
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 2
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 2

Dissolve the instant tea in the water.  Mix all of the dry spices into the cake mix.  Add the butter, eggs, pumpkin and tea/water.  Continue with the mixing and baking instructions on your box for cupcakes.

I had to try this recipe three times before I had one with the flavor I was looking for.  For the first attempt I replaced some of the water with liquid chai concentrate, and they were very pumpkinish and had very little chai coming through.  It was all we could do to scarf down the whole batch.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 3
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 3

The second time, I referred to my Spiced Chai drink mix for the spices to add.  I went a little light because I didn’t want them to be too overpowering.  They were good, but it was still hard to taste anything but pumpkin.  When I read the drink recipe a second time, I realized the number of servings was nearly the same as my cake mix, so I went all-out and added the same measurements for the spices.  You can even see the difference in color between the two batches.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 4
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 4

Bingo!  These are definitely spicy, but a good dose of cream cheese frosting on top tones them down just enough.  I’m pretty sure nothing has ever said fall quite as loudly as these do.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 5
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 5

Friday Favorites–Pumpkins

I love almost everything about pumpkins.  Looking at them, eating them, making things from them or that look like them, all make me happy.  The only exception is when they’ve started to rot and they’re still sitting on my front porch.  If someone could come up with a self-disposing pumpkin, that would be great.  Oh, and one that ejects its own seeds and guts.  Never mind – that sounds even more gross than having to remove them myself.

Friday Favorites - 10 Pumpkin Crafts

The Newbie Farmstress has a great idea to get that decomposing pumpkin to pull its weight.  First it’s a lovely planter, then it’s compost.

The Newbie Farmstress

I’m intrigued by these Roasted Pumpkin Pie Chickpeas from Produce on Parade.  It looks like I’ll need to find myself some pumpkin butter and give them a try.

Produce on Parade

With all the reusable craft pumpkins out there, it’s nice to find something to carve into them that can be carried into the Thanksgiving season, like this design from Family Circle.

Family Circle

This Pumpkin Gift Tag from Do Small Things With Love is adorable.  Maybe on that jar of pumpkin butter I’m looking for?

Do Small Things With Love

Childmade shares a Paper Pumpkin you can make with the little ones.


This felt pumpkin is cute all on its own, but Rust & Sunshine included stick-on felt jack ‘o lantern features.

Rust & Sunshine

Pumpkin spice makes everything taste better, and this Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Chow from What Megan’s Making is just proof.

What Megan's Making

The bathroom is often left out when it comes to seasonal decorating.  At least that’s the case in my house.  This Pumpkin Soap from Clean and Scentsible would add a seasonal touch and keep everyone clean at the same time.

Clean and Scentsible

I like the papers used on this 3D Paper Pumpkin from Crafts by Amanda.  You could also fold it flat for easy storage.

Crafts by Amanda

Burlap is everywhere right now, and I gotta tell you, I don’t mind one bit.  These little Burlap Pumpkins from Refresh Renew don’t require much sewing and are a great way to bring a little of that trend in for the season.

Refresh Renew

Friday Favorites - Autumn

I generally gauge the season by my families’ calendar.  My daughter’s mid-September birthday technically makes her a summer baby, but that’s always when I feel the first signs of fall creeping in.  By the time my other kid’s early October celebration comes around, we’re knee deep in pumpkins and colorful leaves.  Since we’re between the two of them right now, it must mean the official start of autumn is this weekend.

I will admit I’m a Starbucks fan, but one or two pumpkin spice lattes a year is enough for me.  However, yesterday my daughter and I discovered something new:  pumpkin spice chai.  Oh my goodness.  I’ve got the chai down, so all I need is this Coffee Shop Pumpkin Syrup from Savvy Eats and I’m all set to enjoy these from home.

Savvy Eats

For some reason, I usually carry a smaller purse in the summer.  Maybe it’s because the clothes are smaller and I’m trying to stay in proportion.  More likely, my bag has to be larger when the air turns colder so I can carry an extra scarf and sweater.  This Mod Purse Refashion from The Sewing Rabbit is a brilliant way to convert a smaller bag into an autumn-accommodating one.

The Sewing Rabbit

One of my very most absolutely favorite things about the weather getting colder is wearing boots.  I ordered my daughter a set of these Boot Cuffs from OnTheHook on Etsy for Christmas last year.  They can be turned either direction for a different look, and Desiree was great to work with.  I think this year I need a set for myself.


And because you’re never too young for boots, check out these adorable Little Red Riding Boots from Shwin & Shwin.

Shwin and Shwin

Another favorite item that’s at the top of my list to add back into my wardrobe this time of year is a scarf.  I love this Chain Loop Scarf from Hidden Daisyy.  I wonder if I could braid the strands instead of crochet.

Hidden Daisyy

We live amongst the trees, so when the leaves start to change we’re surrounded.  I love all the colors, and wouldn’t mind bringing some of it inside with these Autumn Lanterns from No Wooden Spoons.

No Wooden Spoons

Sticks are around any time of year, so why is it they feel so fall-like?  I have a bunch of cinnamon sticks left over from a project, so I might try this Cinnamon Stick Covered Tissue Box from How to Nest for Less.  This would also transition nicely into winter.

How to Nest for Less

Once the summer heat is gone, I make soup at least once a week.  I tend to use the throw-whatever-we-have-in-a-pot method, but I attempt an actual recipe once in a while.  The next one will be 30 Minute Baked Potato Soup from 4-Tunate.


It’s fall, the weather isn’t as nice outside and you know what that means.  “Mom, I’m BORED!”  These Pony Bead Pumpkins from Cutesy Crafts would help keep them busy for a while and they’d be fun to display when they’re finished.

Cutesy Crafts

I have cold hands.  So cold, I have to wear gloves inside the grocery store in the winter.  I kinda love these Witty Gloves from Country Living.  I’d never tattoo my knuckles, but I’d wear these!  “Hand Made” is my favorite.

Country Living