WIP Wednesday:

gypsy wife HST blocks

Baby steps around here this week. Made some progress on the sewing room/guest room, a few gypsy wife blocks, and my October do. Good Stitches blocks.

October do. Good Stitches.

(If they look familiar, it’s cuz they are — we made these same blocks in a different color-way back in May).

In between the rain this weekend, we headed down to PA for some apple and pumpkin picking with friends at Frecon Farms.


It’s beginning to feel like fall around here, in spite of the 75 degree days.

Fall Leaves

The leaves are changing, there is apple sauce in the oven, and the air conditioners are out of the windows. Last night the boys were jokingly singing Christmas carols and I didn’t mind a bit. I’m ready for you, fall!

Getting back to things sewing-related, I finally started to put my Gypsy Wife blocks up on the design board together and I am a bit perplexed. gypsy wife progress

There’s more white/cream than I remember, and I’m afraid it’s too stark a contrast against the earlier blocks that I made that are darker and more saturated. What do you think? Would you remake any of them? I’m on the fence, hoping I can pull it together and make it feel cohesive but not too matchy-match in the end. I’m all ears for any tips you might have for me going forward!

Hope you are having a fantastic week!

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced and Sew Fresh Quilts.

Finish Along Q4 Goals

How did you do? Did you participate in the third quarter of The Littlest Thistle’s Finish Along? Did you complete all of your goals? I was right on track for finishing all of mine, when the quilting on my LIMOD sampler got the best of me. I spent this past weekend picking out rows of stitches, unbasting and re-basting the quilt sandwich together. Initially, there was some slight puckering on the back. And at first I thought I could live with it. So I kept going. And then my inner critic got the best of me. Is this the kind of work you want to have represent you? No. It was not. So, LIMOD is getting pushed into the Q4 finish goals, for sure. And without further ado, here’s my list:

1) LIMOD Sampler: it needs to be quilted and bound. I hope to have it finished by next weekend!

LIMOD Sampler

2) Diamonds in the Deep: this one is in a UPS box on it’s way to get quilted up by a long-arm quilter! I’m so excited I can’t WAIT! I have my fabric picked for the binding so that it is ready to go when it comes back to me! I hope to have it finished by the end of November!Diamonds in the Deep

3) The Oversized Fashionista Bag: this bag is an amalgamation of patterns in the Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam. I’ve added interior pockets, hardware, and a lining. It’s almost to the point where it’s ready to be sewn together. Except, there are some tabs and a handle that I’m not sure the needle on my machine can get through. And, I’m a big chicken. After all the work, I’m afraid my execution of the end result will not live up to the idea in my head. It’s the first time I’ve ever sewn with wool and a silky rayon lining, so, it’s definitely got imperfections already. Which is why it sat in my closet for close to a year. . . it’s time to face the fabric.

Oversized Fashionista Bag

Oversized Fashionista Bag

4) Birds of a Feather: I have a whole new idea for how I want to approach this quilt. It involves some curves, which I’ve never tackled before. It may be a bit too ambitious given the holidays are coming. . . but we’ll see!

Getting an idea in my head

And, then of course there’s the other stuff that I’ll be working on that doesn’t qualify for the Q4 Finish Along. There’s the Gypsy Wife BOM, do. Good Stitches bee blocks, LIMOD blocks and LOTS of handmade gifts for the holidays!

Are you ready? Let’s finish strong, 2014!

I’m linking up with The Littlest Thistle! You should, too! Let’s do this together!

quilted tissue holder w/ vintage button closure.

Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closureIt’s that time of the year again. . . where my mind skips ahead to the holidays and all of the fun gifts I can make for the special people in my life. I know you may have seen tutorials for tissue holders in the past — but this one is kinda kicked up a notch — to make it a slightly more elegant and (in my humble opinion) gift-worthy option! I love to make these to have on hand for teachers, friends, and any other last-minute gifting that might come up. So let’s get started!

Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closureSupplies:

  • 2 pieces of coordinating fabric measuring 6.5 x 7 inches (one for the exterior, and one for the lining)
  • 1 piece of thin batting measuring 7 x 7.5 inches (you can even use a piece flannel in place of the batting)
  • 1 piece of 2mm elastic cording cut to 3.5 inches (Tip: I have bought elastic by the yard, OR cut hair ties in coordinating colors to match my fabric — just use the thin ones!)
  • vintage or any pretty button
  • coordinating thread

The How-To:

Step 1: Quilt your exterior fabric.

Place your exterior fabric right-side up directly on top of your batting. Pin the layers together with a few pins to prevent slipping.

Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closureUsing your walking-foot, quilt away! You can quilt straight lines, make a checker board pattern, free-motion quilt, use decorative stitches — there are so many possibilities, and it’s completely up to you! Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Trim the excess batting.Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Step 2: Pin the elastic in place.

Place your lining fabric and quilted exterior fabric right sides together. Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Mark the center of one of the SHORT sides (3.25″ from the top or bottom). Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Fold your elastic in half forming a loop and insert the LOOP side between your two layers of fabric. Pin in place with approximately 1/4″ – 1/2″ of the elastic’s raw edge hanging out from the edge of the fabric. (Note: the size of your loop can depend on the size of your button — if you have a very large or very small button, you may want to adjust your loop accordingly.)Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Step 3: Sew the quilted exterior and lining together. 

Sew a 1/4 inch seam around the entire perimeter, leaving a 2″ gap at the center of one of the LONG (7″) sides (approximately 2.5″ in from either end). This will be used for turning right side out. When stitching over the elastic, be sure to reinforce the seam by backstitching a few times.Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Step 4: Clip the corners, turn and press.

Clip corners (as shown above), and turn right side out. Use a chopstick or bone folder to gently push the corners out. Press flat. Make sure to press the opening to the inside.Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Step 5: Bring short edges to the center and sew.

Fold each of the short edges to the center, making sure that the exterior fabric is on the INSIDE. Sew 1/4″ from the edge on each end. Backstitch at the center point (where the two ends meet), to ensure that it is securely held in place. You can overlap the two ends slightly if it’s not too thick under your presser foot). Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Turn right side out.Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Step 6: Sew on your button.

Sew your button onto the side opposite the elastic. Tip: To get the fit “just right” I put a packet of tissues inside before marking where to place the button. Pull the elastic toward the button side and place a mark in the spot that the center of the loop reaches. Center your button on this mark when attaching. This will ensure a perfect fit!Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Now, thanks to you, your loved ones can look adorable and chic — even when blowing their noses!Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

And don’t forget about the fellas in your life! Whip these up in some masculine fabrics and you have a tissue or handkerchief holder for a special guy! And if you’re pressed for time, you can skip the step of quilting the exterior fabric (check the flannel houndstooth version below!).Tutorial: Quilted tissue holder with vintage button closure

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have lots of fun making these easy and fun little gifts!

WIP Wednesday: out of the vault.

Hi, there!

new design wall

Let’s catch up! This week I’ve been working on the randomest assortment of projects. Let me start by saying it’s been raining. A lot.

The biggest work-in-progress, by far, is the creation of a dedicated sewing space for meeeeee! We decided that carving out a spot in the guest room would be the best place for me to set up permanent shop.

We decided this back in July.

Well, this past weekend we made some great headway. I made a simple design wall using this tutorial. My new desk is set up. And my stash is now in the guest room instead of the dining room.

painting on canvasAs I cleaned out the closet to switch my stash’s location, it was like pulling works-in-progress out of the vault! And it gave me a whole new set of angst after this week’s finishes. One was this canvas purse I decided to make (ages ago) with visions of Anthropologie in my head. I bought paints. And then put them all together on the shelf, where they sat for almost a year. So, at this point, I was like, what is there to lose? Either it sits in the closet waiting forever for me to suddenly learn how to paint like an artiste (read that with a French accent), or I whip out the paint brush and see what happens! So I just sort of followed the shapes and forms of a Lullie Wallace print we have and suddenly, it was done! It’s not the best, but it’s not nearly as bad as I expected! I think it can be kind of quirky and fun if I finish the bag the right way, no? I also happened across this timely post by Radiant Home Studio about waxing canvas fabric. So, I ordered some of that. Serendipity, no doubt!

quilting the LIMOD samplerAnd finally, I started quilting the LIMOD sampler. More on that another day. I may need your advice. But for now, I am off to practice some yoga — to work on myself — the biggest WIP of all.

Hope you are having a great week so far! Linking up with Freshly Pieced and Sew Fresh Quilts.

ps – sorry for all of the dark photos, but as I said before, the rain and gloom just hasn’t stopped!

A simple, masculine quilt.

Simple, neutral quilt.Another finish to report, all this one required was a binding. Like my scrappy picnic quilt, I started this masculine-looking lap quilt ages ago. I was so inspired by a picture I saw on Design*Sponge (which I pinned to Pinterest) years ago, that I just had to recreate it.

Simple, neutral quilt.However, I gave up on it, due to its imperfections. But it weighed on me. It wasn’t that bad. Certainly someone could use it, even if I donated it.

Simple, neutral quilt.So I ordered some of the quilter’s linen in charcoal and finished it up. Now that it’s done, I’m not nearly as hard on it. It has a warm houndstooth flannel back and could really keep someone warm when the temperatures drop.

Simple, neutral quilt.

Linking up happily to The Littlest Thistle, as I am just squeezing this one in before the deadline!

a finish. finally.

Scrappy Picnic QuiltI can’t remember the last time I sewed a binding on a quilt. It’s been that long. I’ve been plugging away at tops, but have not had any finishes to report — until now! And this one has been a long time in the making! This quilt, the first I ever started, sat in the bottom of my linen closet for so long that it needed sunglasses when it came into the light.

Scrappy Picnic QuiltI didn’t even have much to do on it. I had to finish the quilting and put a binding on. That was it! But getting all of that fabric under the machine to finish up the chevron pattern had become such a chore as a brand new sewer, that I had given up. And I had built it up in my head for all of this time. But now that I have a few years of sewing under my belt, once I got back to it, I realized it really was not bad at all! And it feels like a tremendous burden has been lifted. . . isn’t that funny? You don’t realize that unfinished projects are causing mental stress until you finish them, and then you can let out a huge sigh of relief!

Scrappy Picnic QuiltThis quilt was made with all of my favorite fabrics at the time. There’s a good deal of AMH, some Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, and a couple of coordinating pieces from my mom’s stash. I had no idea how big the quilt was going to be when I started it. The chevrons are not exact. And I never would have picked the batik on the back. But I was just trying it to see if I liked quilting. Little did I know! Even without finishing it, this quilt would be the gateway to an addiction I never dreamed of! All I can say is, NO REGRETS!

Scrappy Picnic QuiltFinishing this quilt was one of my goals for the 2014 Finish Along, so I’ll be linking up with The Littlest Thistle and to TGIFF and Crazy Mom Quilts !

Have a great weekend everybody!Scrappy Picnic Quilt

odds and ends.

Indian HatchetI’ve been dabbling this week. A little here, a little there, making a few blocks for gypsy wife, attaching the bindings on two other quilts, and putting the back together for Diamonds in the Deep. A little of this, a little of that and slowly but surely things are getting done.

Puss in the Corner

Puss in the Corner with border

I also received my fabric for the Tone It Down low-volume fabric swap! (It’s Carolyn Friedlander’s Draft Paper in ivory — isn’t it fun?!?) It’s ready to cut into charm squares and get packaged up for mailing to Michelle at From Bolt to Beauty!

Tone It Down Fabric Swap

Slowly, slowly, I’m chipping away at the goals I have set for myself this month. As the last day of September approaches, I’m feeling good that some finishes are on the horizon. It also feels good to know that I’ll have some mental space free to focus on new projects. I’ve been thinking a lot about what direction I’d like to take my quilting next, and how I’d like to grow and challenge myself. . . now, it’s just a matter of finding the time to fit in everything I’d like to do!

For those who might be interested, you can learn more about the LV swap here. I’m not sure if there are spots left, but you should check it out to see!



Linking up with Freshly Pieced and Sew Fresh Quilts.

quilters take manhattan: my take.

Quilters Take Manhattan

This weekend I hopped on the Long Island Railroad (or as we call in in these parts, the L.I.R.R.) with my mom, and we headed over to F.I.T. to attend The Quilt Alliance’s annual fundraiser Quilters Take Manhattan. Neither of us had attended before, and we weren’t really sure of what to expect — so we went into the day with an open mind and just enjoying the chance to hang out together and see how it went!

And now, I’m gonna give you the lowdown on the event using my scientifically-developed rating system of: “Meh” vs. “Awesome”. Lucky. You!

Quilters Take Manhattan

As we walked in the door, we were given the opportunity to buy raffle tickets (see my hand) for prizes that I can honestly say I would have loved to have won (spoiler alert: I didn’t). People won ginormous baskets of fabrics of all sorts — solids, Amy Butler prints, moda prints — there was a sewing machine, an AccuQuilt Go, every type of ruler you could imagine, a Rowenta iron. . . definitely some great loot. Alas, my mom and I left with nothing but the swag bag. But it was fun, nonetheless. The takeaway: Prizes from the event – Awesome.

Quilters Take Manhattan

Then as we made our way to our seats, I literally bumped into Amy Butler. She is every bit as amazing and lovely in person as I would have imagined her to be! She was the keynote speaker, and was seriously so inspiring! I can honestly say that my mind is still marinating all of the pieces of information that it took in from her lecture. Instead of her just telling her story of how she went from an art student named Amy Butler to being . . .AMY BUTLER household name and quilt fabric designer extraordinare, she relayed her struggles to maintain her inspiration for what she does AND gave us the tools she used to overcome our own mental blocks and fears. Her speech was very generous in the details that it gave, and her honesty in telling it made me even more of a fan. The takeaway: Keynote Speaker – Awesome.

Quilters Take Manhattan

The next speaker was Mark Dunn, the founder of Moda Fabrics. His lecture focused on the antique quilts that he collects and from which he then creates some of Moda’s reproduction fabric lines. The proceeds from these “Collections for a Cause” fabric lines are then used to support various charities. Quilters Take Manhattan

I fell in love with this quilt, which used a cheddar-colored sashing to separate the Ohio stars. What I loved most about it is the unfinished sash on either end. Whether it was intentional or not (maybe the quilter ran out of the chrome fabric?),  it seemed modern and fresh. The takeaway: I didn’t expect to enjoy this part of the show as much as I did. While not Awesome, way better than a Meh.

Quilters Take Manhattan

The afternoon was less organized than the earlier half of the program. We walked around viewing the quilts that had been made as part of a contest sponsored by Quilt Alliance and Cherrywood Fabrics (have you seen these fabrics? they’re hand-dyed and feel like suede!) and previewing the cottons and voiles in Amy Butler’s new line “Glow”. I had a hand at the City Quilter’s long arm machine – a HandiQuilter HQ Sweet Sixteen — and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. I am truly in love with that long arm machine. I think I had a dream about it last night. The takeaway for me: I need a long arm machine ASAP.

Quilters Take Manhattan

There was also an introduction to the Quilt Alliance’s new initiative Quilters’ S.O.S., in which hundreds of quilt-makers are interviewed in a two-minute video which is then transcribed  and uploaded with a photo of the quilt to a digital archive. The intention is to create an oral history surrounding the quilts that we make to have for future reference and research. The takeaway: we should all be doing this. I’m not particularly comfortable with myself on camera, so, You go first. I’ll follow.

(ps – I snapped this photo while Melanie Testa was giving her oral history. Unfortunately she didn’t make it into the picture. She hand-dyed all or most of those fabrics. Amazing, right??)

Quilters Take Manhattan

A few quilters then participated in a speed-quilt building contest, during which the raffle winners were announced. The takeaway: Speed Contest – Meh. I didn’t really see the point. Although Mark Lipinski’s emcee-ing of the event was Awesome.

Quilters Take Manhattan

My Conclusion: we only attended the main event at F.I.T. — though there were many add on events throughout the weekend that we could have enjoyed – if I didn’t have a house full of kids to get back to! There was a cocktail party at Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s loft (how cool is that?), tours of the fabric district with Mark Lipinski, and workshops at the City Quilter. I don’t know if the event is quite where it needs to be that I would recommend traveling from afar to attend, but it is only in its fourth year of existence, and from what I have heard, it’s getting better every year. I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out, and in a few more years, I’m sure it will be a hot ticket to get!

WIP Wednesday: the feel-good edition.

LIMOD Sampler

It’s been a productive week around here! I have a completed sampler quilt top (finally) and I’ve completed this month’s bee blocks for do. Good Stitches. I’m feeling good about what’s been accomplished and I’m feeling good just in general that stuff has been accomplished! Sometimes, that in and of itself, is enough.

The two older boys have been causing some mischief at school — expected for my middle guy —  a surprise from my rule-abiding biggest guy. So, this week, we’ve been having a lot of discussions with them about making good (a.k.a. better) choices. I know it’s not something they will learn overnight.  It’s a lifelong process that I still practice every day — and I’m way older than they are!

September do. Good Stitches

Confession: Sometimes at the end of the night it’s just easier to sit on the couch and watch crappy tv with a glass of wine than it is to start thinking about quilt math.  Sometimes the easy choice is to do nothing, even when I’m excited about a project, because I let my tiredness serve as an excuse.  But deep down, I know when I accomplish something (like bee blocks that I know will go to a quilt for someone who really needs it) I feel really proud. And it’s a sense of pride in myself that doesn’t come often as a stay-at-home mom. I constantly feel pride for the things my boys accomplish, but so rarely for things I accomplish myself!

LIMOD Sampler (one more time!)

So, while I’m really pleased with my projects that I’m sharing with you today, I’m also feeling good about having something to share. And I feel good about being a part of a community where we all have something to share. So I’m just taking this opportunity to say Cheers to all of us! For making, and in doing so, making good choices!

Happy Wednesday, folks!


Linking up with Freshly Pieced and Sew Fresh Quilts.

around the world blog hop!

LIMOD Sampler test layout

I’ve been tagged! You’ve probably seen quite a few bloggers participating in the Around the World Blog Hop over the past few weeks, and this week it’s my turn! I was tagged by Michelle, who can be found at her blog From Bolt to Beauty. She’s a new blogger, like myself, and (in comparison to me) has already completed about a year’s worth of quilts and projects! She’s been a huge support and and inspiration as I’ve started writing about my own sewing endeavors, and I hope you check out her site and some of her work!

So now, let’s get started!

1. What am I working on?

Well, there are quite a few WIPs in my dining room right now. It’s probably easier for me to remember if I make a list:

  • LIMOD Sampler: My main focus this week is my sampler quilt that I am making as part of a block-of-the-month with my local guild.  I decided to add quite a few blocks to the original blocks, and I’m just about ready to sew the quilt top together.

LIMOD sampler quilt blocks

  • Then there’s my Diamonds in the Deep quilt top that needs a finish. I’m in talks with an awesome long-arm quilter and getting ready to make the quilt back this week. I’m really excited to see how this quilt looks when it’s all quilted and bound!Diamonds in the Deep
  • my monthly bee blocks for do. Good Stitches (these were my first and still my favorite!);

HOPE at do.goodstitches - March

  • Gypsy Wife quilt – still very much a work in progress, as I haven’t even started any of the filler blocks yet!

Gypsy Wife Blocks

Sometimes the amount of unfinished projects give me angst, and I need to take a step back and remind myself that this is a hobby! That I love! And it shouldn’t be stressing me out!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Carnelian & Iron Quilt (front)Hmmm. That’s a tough one! I think I am still figuring myself out. I know that I lean toward a modern aesthetic, but I don’t think I would qualify myself as a completely modern quilter. I definitely identify myself more with that movement when I select my fabrics — but I still find myself drawn to traditional blocks and patterns. I do like to dabble in improv quilting on my quilt backs, but I have yet to make a strictly improv quilt top. . . maybe I should add that to my list of things to do once my current list of WIPs gets under control! One thing I always try to do is put a personal twist on whatever it is I am doing. So if it’s a pattern, I’ll try to change things up a bit, just so that my work is unique to me!

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Here’s the back story on me: in a previous life, before becoming a mommy to my three beautiful boys, I was an attorney. And I was a pretty unhappy one. One of the biggest “jokes” I would make in law school was that the books had no pictures! And, while I was kidding. . . I sort of wasn’t. There was no color. No art. Nothing inspiring — to me. I know lots of really great attorneys who find legal work challenging, creative, and inspiring. But I didn’t. So, when I began quilting after my kids were born, I felt like I had finally found the color that I had been longing for. I’d felt like a part of my soul was unfulfilled for so long, and immediately quilting made me feel like a kid again! Plus, quilting requires accuracy, which I find challenging, and the end result is functional, which I also find appealing. And why do I document my projects here? Because I’m looking to make some friends that share the same interests that I have  — and learn from them, too. Simple as that!

Dresden Plate quilt 2012

Dresden Plate Quilt (2 yrs later)

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Usually I wait until my project is complete (and I have photographs that I really would like to share), before I start writing a post. I find it hard to write about something unless I am visually inspired (see law career above). I have three kids, so it’s very rare that I write everything all in one sitting. Usually I write a few sentences, get interrupted, and come back an hour (or ten) later. Then I take a break and reread with fresh eyes to make sure I’m presenting (mostly!) coherent thoughts.

So who’s up next? Wellllllllllll. . .

I’m tagging Kirsty at Bonjour Quilts. She’s a very funny Aussie who is a mommy of four, a pattern designer, and a quilter with a great eye for color. I’ve pointed you her way before, and I’m excited to do it again and hear her thoughts on the above questions.

I’m also tagging Afton at Quilting Mod. I met Afton through the Hope circle of do.Good Stitches. She’s also really funny and uses an interesting mix of fabrics that really catch my eye. Have you seen her Focal Star Block? I absolutely love it, and she has so many other patterns and tutorials that are worth taking a look at!

If you’ve stayed all the way through to read all of this about me, then thank you! I’m linking up with Stitch By Stitch’s, Anything Goes Monday.