Garden Plans for the 2022 Season

Monday, May 23, 2022

Happy Monday! Today I want to share some of my plans for the upcoming gardening season!

Let's start with my cut flower garden! The biggest thing I'm growing in 2022 is dahlias! I have fallen so hard for these flowers in the last few years, and I've been collecting tubers of new varieties over the winter. I'm the most excited about the anemone style dahlia varieties that I'm adding, like Sandia Brocade and Totally Tangerine. My tubers overwintered beautifully and I've been able to get them all planted and given a bunch to friends and family. Most of my dahlias are in our side yard garden, but a few are on the driveway in pots.

I have a pinterest board to organize all the dahlias I grow, if you're interested: Growing Dahlias Pinterest Board

I also started a bunch of dahlias from seeds. I collected the seeds from a few varieties last season, and I'm excited to see if I manage to get any winners! I collected from Jowey Winnie, Crichton Honey, and Take Off. Dahlia's grown from seed are not true to the parent variety, so it's a real mystery as to what the seed dahlia will be like!

Around the 1st of March I pulled out a bunch of tubers to warm up for taking cuttings. If you force the tubers to sprout early, but can cut off the sprout once it has a few sets of leaves and root it to create a new plant. I also did this with new varieties as they arrived throughout Spring. I went a little bit overboard and I ended up with over 30 new plants this way! It was hard to stop!

In terms of other cut flowers, I'm growing strawflowers (always, in honor of my paternal grandmother), marigolds, calendula, geraniums, morning glory and zinnias. This year I've tried simply direct sowing my zinnias. Last year they did so badly, I think partially because I let them languish in the seed cells for too long. I also started a few varieties of rudbeckia and some 'green twister' echinacea that I'm really excited about!

For the second year in a row I made up my own hanging baskets to flank our front door, since hanging baskets can be so expensive. I used 3 six-packs of impatiens for two hanging baskets which ends up being less than $10. They will fill in nicely in a few weeks!

For our vegetable garden, we grow everything in containers on our driveway. A few years ago we made a couple boxes (I think this will be our 3rd season in those), and we've got a bunch of grow bags, galvanized tubs, pots and some crates too. It's a bit of a mishmash, but it works for us! Our driveway gets a decent amount of sun, and since it's asphalt it gets really hot.

We're primarily growing two things, tomatoes and peppers. I did grow radish and arugula early in the season, but those have already been harvested to make space for the warm season veg. For tomatoes we're growing all cherry, indeterminate varieties. They're our favorite to eat and with our setup they do better than larger tomatoes. I started seeds for Sungold and Black Cherry varieties. I also saved and started seeds from an unknown tomato. We get these amazing orange cherry tomatoes through our CSA and I took a chance and saved seeds from those last year. It may not have been an open-pollinated variety so we'll see if the resulting fruit is any good. We love them so much though, it is worth the risk!

I am SO proud of my tomato plants. I started them at the end of March in our basement. At planting time some were almost 2' tall!! This is only my second year starting some from seed and I'm thrilled with how big and healthy they are. I was able to bury 8-10" of the stems when I planted them. As if I needed more tomato plants (I ended up with 18 plants from seed), I bought a couple because I couldn't resist! We're growing two Sunsugar and a Sunrise Bumblebee. Both yellow/orange cherries.

For peppers we have some pretty standard varieties we grow every year. We always grow Anaheim, Sweet Banana, Sriracha, and Serrano. The Sriracha are really similar in flavor to JalapeƱos, but seem to do better for us. I think they're also a bit milder heat-wise. I also started some peppers from seed. I've got 5 plants of Lunchbox Yellow snacking peppers, and a plant each of two hot varieties, Aji and Sugar Rush just for fun.

We always like to try a few new things every year, so we're growing onions! I ordered Walla Walla onion starts from Johnny's Seeds and ended up with around 60 starts. We love these little sweet onions, so I really hope they do well. I also brought home two seed potatoes from my Dad (I think they're Yukon gold), that I'm trying out in a crate. That experiment may not work, but it's worth a try! I also brought home some of my parent's strawberry plants that were growing in their grass. I stuck those in a galvanized tub where they're free to grow wild.

I think that's about it! I'm really excited for this season, I love gardening. One of my favorite things about it is going out early each morning to see how things have grown and changed, and taking care of watering/harvesting tasks. It's quiet out and is such a peaceful activity. Once things get blooming I love to see all the bees and butterflies enjoying the flowers. And of course eating tomatoes directly off the vine, the best.

Happy Growing!

Friday Favorites 20

Friday, May 20, 2022

Happy Friday! It's time for another Friday Favorites post! Since this is my 20th post in this series, we're going to celebrate by doing something a little different! Instead of sending you all over the internet with links, I'm going to choose some favorites of mine from my archives. I hope you'll enjoy this trip down memory lane to some of my favorite posts and projects. (Blocks in progress shown above became this quilt.)

- This small quilt was a real turning point for me creatively. It was one of the first times I deviated from a quilt pattern's instructions and thought outside the box. It helped encourage me to write my own quilt patterns.

- I actually pulled up this baby quilt tutorial this week, to make one for a friend!

- I used to share a few recipes now and then, this one is probably the recipe I shared that I make the most often. At least once a year!

- One of my favorite scrap quilts I've made, which appears in the book Scraps, Inc*. I still love those colors.

- If I had to choose one product I'm happiest to carry in my shop it's these wooden beads. After years of using random beads from the thrift or big box store (nothing wrong with that!), I am so glad to be able to use and offer to you these high quality beads.

- One of my favorite and most popular informational series I've done here is my Art of Choosing Series. It's all about choosing fabrics through color and pattern for your projects.

- This scrappy drawstring bag is one of my all-time favorites, and I've made a lot of them! It's a project size, made from my pattern.

- A reader tagged me in their photo on Instagram recently, they made one of my quilted grocery bag holders. I still use mine!

- This purse and wallet duo I made got a ton of use the last few years. When I wanted to be able to shop hands-free and in a hurry!

- Last but certainly not least, my angel George bunny. It's impossible to look back through older posts and not see his little face pop up. I still miss him ever so much (although miss Dusty kitty does help!). He was such a sweet and gentle bun.

Have a Great Weekend!

*Note: Any links marked with an asterisk in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and buy something, I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Indigo Courthouse Steps Quilt Tutorial

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Happy Wednesday! Today I have a finished quilt to share, plus a tutorial for it!

This quilt has been a few years in the making! I've made a few really simple quilts from my hand-dyed indigo fabrics, but I was craving something with a bit more piecing for this quilt. Most of my hand-dyed fabric stash is fat quarters, so I knew I wanted to come up with a design that would take advantage of fat quarters. I ended up choosing 8 different indigo fat quarters for this quilt, and immediately cut them all up into 2.5" strips.

I've never made a courthouse steps quilt before, and I liked the idea of making essentially two color blocks and playing with the arrangement to almost create the look of half-square triangles. Lucky for me, the resulting quilt turned out just as I had envisioned it! I like how even though the fabrics have been cut up, you can still get a sense for the dye pattern within each block.

This entire quilt is made from white Kona Cotton*. The dyed prints were indigo dyed by me over the course of a few summers. For more information on indigo dyeing, check out my Indigo Dyeing Tutorial.

The backing is pieced together with some pieces of white fabric and hand dyed pieces. I repurposed a shower curtain I dyed and made a few years ago. It didn't fit with our new shower here, so I thought it would be more useful to revert it back to fabric!

For the quilting, I sent the quilt to Melissa Kelley of Sew Shabby Quilting. The quilt design is called Malachite. The quilt is bound up in more indgo fabric!

There are so many ways you could customize this design. I kept my quilt really simple, only using a single print and background fabric for each block. You could use as many or as few fabrics as you want for yours! The tutorial is written to be fat quarter friendly, but I think it would look really good done up in scraps. Or you could take advantage of a couple jelly rolls! I've included a table with all the piece totals if you'd rather cut from scraps or other yardage.

Indigo Courthouse Steps Quilt Tutorial by Jeni Baker

Sewing Level: Beginner Friendly
Finished Size: 72"x72"
Finished Block Size: 18" square

- 8 print fat quarters
- 3 yards of background fabric
- 80"x80" quilt batting
- 4 1/2 yards of backing fabric
- 5/8 yard of binding fabric

From each print fat quarter:
Cut (7) 2.5"x21" strips

Using the graphic above for reference, subcut the strips into the following:
- (4) 14.5"x2.5" strips
- (4) 6.5"x2.5" strips
- (4) 10.5"x2.5" strips
- (4) 2.5" squares

From background fabric:
Cut (16) 2.5"xWOF strips:
- Subcut each strip into (2) 18.5"x2.5" strips

Cut (8) 2.5"xWOF strips:
- Subcut each strip into (4) 10.5"x2.5" strips

Cut (16) 2.5"xWOF strips:
- Subcut each strip into (2) 14.5"x2.5" strips and (2) 6.5"x2.5" strips

Cut (1) 2.5"xWOF strip:
- Subcut strip into (16) 2.5" squares

Piece Totals
If you'd rather cut from stash or scraps, here is how many of each piece you'll need to make this quilt!

2.5"x2.5" 6.5"x2.5" 10.5"x2.5" 14.5"x2.5" 18.5"x2.5"
Print fabric 32 32 32 32 0
Background fabric 16 32 32 32 32

Indigo Courthouse Steps Quilt Instructions:

*Use a 1/4” seam allowance unless otherwise noted.*

Block Construction:
Each block is made from a single print fabric and background fabric. For a scrappy look, feel free to use a mix of prints in each block.

1. Sew a 2.5" print square to both sides of a 2.5" background square. Press seams away from center.

2. Sew a 6.5"x2.5" background strip to both the top and bottom of the center block. Press seams away from center.

3. Sew a 6.5"x2.5" print strip to both sides of the center block. Press seams away from center.

4. Sew a 10.5"x2.5" background strip to both the top and bottom of the center block. Press seams away from center.

5. Sew a 10.5"x2.5" print strip to both sides of the center block. Press seams away from center.

6. Sew a 14.5"x2.5" background strip to both the top and bottom of the center block. Press seams away from center.

7. Sew a 14.5"x2.5" print strip to both sides of the center block. Press seams away from center.

8. Sew an 18.5"x2.5" background strip to both the top and bottom of the center block. Press seams away from center.

Trim block to 18.5" square if necessary. Repeat steps 1-8 to create a total of 16 blocks.

Quilt Top Construction:

1. Arrange blocks into four rows of four blocks each. Sew blocks together in each row. Press seams in one direction, alternating direction every other row. Sew rows together, press seams open. Press top well from the right side.

Quilt Assembly and Finishing:
1. Making Backing: Cut backing yardage in half. Press. Trim off the selvedge and sew your pieces together lengthwise. Press seam open.

2. Basting: Using masking or painter’s tape, tape the backing to a clean, hard surface, right side down. Spread out your batting on top of the backing. Smooth out any wrinkles. Carefully spread out your quilt top on top of the batting, right side up. Pin your top, I like to use curved safety pins, spacing the pins a few inches apart. Make sure that your pins are going through all three layers.

3. Quilting: Quilt as desired, by machine or by hand. Trim away excess batting and backing fabric.

4. Binding: Cut yardage listed for binding into 2.5” strips. Trim off selvedges and sew your strips together to form one long strip, press seams open. Fold in half lengthwise, pressing with your iron as you fold. Attach binding using your preferred method. For a detailed tutorial on attaching your binding to both sides by machine: Machine Quilt Binding Tutorial.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial! I have lots of other tutorials for everything from quilts, pillows, bags, and holiday items to informational series and techniques. Find all my tutorials here: Tutorials. My online shop is filled with patterns for quilts and bags. Find my patterns here: Jeni Baker Patterns

If you make something using one of my tutorials or patterns, I hope you'll tag me @jenib320 and use my hashtag #jenibaker on instagram!

Happy Quilting!

*Note: Any links marked with an asterisk in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and buy something, I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

April Monthly Report

Monday, May 16, 2022

Happy Monday! It's time for the April monthly report. See past reports here.

As it's already over halfway through May, we're going to keep April's report short and sweet! I also didn't finish a whole lot this month, so there isn't much to cover. Most of the sewing I did this month was on the two small quilts above. I'm working on a pattern and needed to make a baby quilt size for it. So I pieced that top. I ended up quilting and making binding for it as well as for an old WIP at the same time. They both just need to be bound and then they're done!

My lone sewing finish this month was a mini quilt for my Mom. I've made her a mini quilt for either Mother's Day or her birthday for the last few years, to add to her sewing room walls. This year I decided to repurpose this crossstitch sampler that I recently rediscovered. I can't remember if I originally found it thrifting or if it was given to me. Either way, it needed to get out of storage because it's so cute! I kept the mini pretty simple, just framing the embroidery with some borders. I think it turned out pretty cute!

As I posted last week, I finally released a new and improved fabric folding video tutorial! I got this filmed in April, but I've honestly been wanting to film this video for at least 5-6 years. Glad it's finally done!

To keep myself accountable for my stash goals, I track my yardage for fabric and yarn each month. Read more about how I track here. Here is how I did in April:

April Fabric
Used up: .5 yard
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: -.5 yards
Year to date: -16 yards

April Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: 0 yards
Year to date: 0 yards

Not much stash movement at all this month! The only thing I tracked was the bit of fabric I used for my Mom's mini quilt!

Not strictly sewing related, but I finished my overhead camera rig! I built it using this youtube video. It works just like I hoped it would. I used it to film my fabric folding tutorial! Hopefully more videos coming soon.

Dusty loves to help me sew!

Have a Great Month!