Marsala challenge: art quilt

Pantone’s color of the year challenge was initially a little… “challenging.” Kind of like a cross between brown and mauve. Yikes!


In the end though, I kind of love it. So much so that I’m making an Amy Butler Weekender Bag in an (unintentionally) very similar palette.


I decided to make another art quilt (first one blogged here) because I wanted to try the method again in a slightly different way. With both the butterfly art quilt and the one I did for my Instagram mini quilt swap, I overlayed a feature element on top of the textured background. I didn’t do a blog post for the swap, but here’s a picture.


The entire background was laid out before I placed the flowers and birds, which lay on top.

For the Pantone challenge, I wanted to place the feature rose in the center of the quilt before I placed the tiny “background” pieces. A subtle difference, perhaps, but one I was eager to try.


This quilt makes you want to touch it, as evidenced by my 3 year old.

After placing all of the pieces I straight line quilted it about a 1/4 inch apart to give it additional texture and also to ensure everything stays in place.


One of my favorite things about this quilt is the hidden Lizzy House creatures.


I spy two mice, a bird, and a fishy! There are a couple of bi-sected cats hidden in another part of the quilt as well.

A lot of people have asked me about the method behind this style of art quilting and I do have a blog post planned for that. It’s the same method I used to make the exterior of this cargo duffle.


And this sew together bag.


I hope to be posting that soon. It’s so simple, and just perfect for selvages because you don’t lose the words and color dots in the seam allowance.

I’m linking up with the Marsala challenge with On the Windy Side and Play-Crafts. Go see what everyone else has created with this challenging color!

Kilim quilt

I finished my Kilim quilt top! (I blogged about the inspiration and design process here.)


I learned a couple of really important things designing and constructing this quilt. The first is about myself as a quilter. I learned that I am capable of pushing through the monotony of working with solids, and that the end result is worth it. (I know not every quilter finds solids monotonous, but I personally do). Unlike projects like my gypsy wife quilt, neon sampler, or penny sampler, each block of this quilt was not satisfying in itself. But the end result is definitely the best quilt I’ve made, or at least the one I’m most proud of.

It’s an interesting tension – pleasure in the process vs. satisfaction in the result.

Another lesson came in the form of a major math fail. I set out to design a quilt to look as much like this rug as possible:

Kilim rug photo

Now, let’s view them side by side.

Untitled design

The design was supposed to extend another half block on top and bottom. Unfortunately, when I was deciding what size to make the HSTs, I based the decision on the size of the block as measured from side to side instead of on point. The block finishes 32 inches side to side, but it measures 46 inches when set on point.


If I had completed the design as planned with the size HSTs I used, the quilt would have been 92 by 138! I was already too far into the process when I realized the problem so I just eliminated the top and bottom of the design. The quilt now finishes 92 inches square. If I could go back I would use smaller HSTs and complete the design as planned. Lesson learned!

Of course the question now is how to quilt it. It is a big quilt, and the stakes are high because I’ve already put a ton of time and effort into it. I’ve definitely considered sending it out to be long armed. I’ve also thought about doing multiple colors of Aurifil 28 weight thread in straight horizontal lines. I even briefly considered hand quilting it before I realized how big it was going to be. But for now I’m putting it aside and working on other things, including Kilim II.


I’m sure this project is destined to have just as many adventures and learning opportunities as the first.

Big news

I had a baby! 4 months ago. :) Ha!


I have several blog posts ruminating so I thought I should pop in first to share about Keene’s birth.

Keene Gregory Schraw was born on December 14 at 10:09 am, weighing 8 lbs, 2 oz and measuring 21 inches. He has been an incredibly sweet and easygoing baby, which is a big part of why I’m able to sew and even return to this space to share about it.

Keene’s brothers adore him and are pretty patient when Mama has to “milk the baby.”


Here’s Keene in the amazing (!!) outfit Laura made him.



Hopefully I’ll be back very soon to get you all caught up on what I’ve been working on!

Stockings: an instagram tutorial


I posted this mini-tutorial on Instagram and I thought you guys might want to see it here too. If you make any stockings with it, be sure to send me a photo!


Step 1: supplies

  • stocking template (the one I used for this tutorial is from Diary of a Quilter, but I enlarged it when I made them for my family)
  • 2 quilted panels 9.5 by 16
  • 45 inches of single fold bias binding
  • 2 nine-inch pieces of double fold binding
  • 1 hanging loop (I made mine using a 3 x 6 inch piece of fabric folded multiple times and then stitched closed)

photo-22 copy

Step 2: use the template to mark and cut a front and back for your stocking (be sure to reverse the template for the back)

photo-22 copy 2

Step 3: sew the double fold binding to the tops

photo-22 copy 3

Step 4: place the front and back wrong sides together and sew with a 1/4 inch seam

photo-22 copy 4

Step 5: attach the single fold binding, leaving 2-3 extra inches at the top

photo-22 copy 5

Step 6: hand sew the binding down, folding and flipping the extra at the top into the stocking

photo-22 copy 6

Step 7: attach the loop (very securely if you tend to overstuff your stockings like I do) and you’re done!

Quilt for baby

A few weeks ago I made some little stuffed toys for the baby’s room… and then somehow a quilt sprung out of the same fabrics. Spontaneous combustion?


It was more of a challenge than I initially expected! The pattern came from an older Fons & Porter publication (Fat Quarter Friendly). It suggested needle turn appliqué as an alternative to the curved piecing typically required for a classic winding ways quilt. Sounded good to me since I have needle turn experience but I haven’t tackled curved piecing yet.

Trouble is, the points really need to line up in order to create the “winding ways” effect. After my first block I realized it definitely wasn’t going to happen by luck. After a restless night’s sleep I came up with the idea to piece the background blocks first and then sort of manipulate the appliqué points to approximately come together enough to create the design. It worked! But it was definitely challenging and a little backbreaking. I quickly decided to reduce the overall size of the quilt and add a border! That cut the number of blocks I needed from 20 to 9.

Here it is before quilting.


I hand quilted around all the appliqué shapes.

photo-20 copy

And now I am feeling more ready than ever to have this baby!

Linking up with Crazy Mom for the first time in quite a while. :)

Stops and starts

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen that I was able to get a little sewing done this summer!

Gypsy Wife I

Gypsy Wife I

Gypsy Wife II

Gypsy Wife II

Gypsy Wife III

Gypsy Wife III

Berry Basket (Noodle-head's free tutorial)

Berry Basket (Noodle-head’s free tutorial)

Diaper Pouches (another free Noodle-head tutorial)

Diaper Pouches (another free Noodle-head tutorial)

Noodle-head poolside tote

Noodle-head poolside tote

Unfortunately, I’ve stalled out again due to heartburn and general 3rd trimester soreness and fatigue. It’s so frustrating! My heart is happy and my mind is engaged but my body just can’t do it right now. It is encouraging to feel like myself again in my own head though. I feel confident that I will get back to daily sewing and more frequent blogging next year. That confidence is a comfort to me because I really lost it during the worst of the early pregnancy woes.

Here I am a week or 2 ago when I treated myself to a blow-dry and a pretty dress.


I’m 29 weeks now and hoping to give birth in early December around 38 weeks so I will have time to recover before the Christmas holiday. Follow me on Instagram for nursery setup updates and eventually pictures of a sweet little babe!

My 3 sons

Last week we received the wonderful news that our surprise baby is (not surprisingly) another boy! A lot of people have asked if I had a feeling one way or the other, or if we wanted a girl. Out of loyalty to the child I really didn’t have an opinion. I just want (him) to be who (he) is!

Now that we know he’s a boy, for the first time in months I have quilt ideas whirling in my head. I’d love to make this baby a quilt or a wall hanging for his nursery, but something is holding me back. I’m 20 weeks now (half way!) and only just finally getting over the nausea. My poor husband is exhausted from taking care of me, the kids, and our home during my illness. The kids are a little wilder than usual because I’ve mostly scolded from the couch instead of properly punishing them for the last 3 months. And there is a lot of work ahead of me converting my sewing room back into a nursery.

So even though I’ve started reading blogs a little and browsing instagram, I am going to have to let that restless energy build while I put my house in order. Something about having a new baby makes you want to organize everything, amIright? I have a year’s worth of bills and paperwork to file, and the insides of my cabinet drawers in the kitchen and bathrooms haven’t been cleaned… ever. All of that comes first, along with the nursery setup.

But do you want to know what quilt ideas I’ve been thinking about, even though I’m not actually sewing yet? I thought so!

If the baby had been a girl, my idea was to make a snowflake quilt with 6, 9, and 12 inch versions of this block from the penny sampler. The “snowflake” design is a subtle nod to the baby’s Christmasy due date, although I wasn’t going to use Christmas colors or fabrics.


My idea for a boy is a machine paper piecing sampler using various boy-friendly blocks like these:




I even sketched a little!


Maybe I’ll find the time later in my pregnancy to make this sampler happen, or maybe I’ll turn it into a bigger quilt idea for his eventual big-boy bed. Either way, you can be sure you’ll be the first to know when I start sewing again!