WIP week: a break from quilts

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We’re wrapping up work in progress week today! I will admit that I conceived 2 new quilt ideas this weekend… but they’re not technically in progress yet so I think I can wait a bit to share them here. Tomorrow I’m going to debut my hide-the-basting-stitches EPP tutorial! Stay tuned it’s going to be exciting.

Today we’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled complete obsession with quilts to share a few non-quilt projects. One great thing about quilting is that it teaches general sewing skills. I honestly could barely thread my machine before I made my 1st quilt. By the time I was done with my 2nd quilt, I was much more comfortable with sewing in general. I also learned hand sewing from binding my quilts and that is another valuable tool. I have used those skills to make every curtain and decorative pillow in my house, not to mention 10 or 15 quilts (I really should count sometime).

I think sewing is a really useful skill and I hope to get more people excited about it!

Now of course I take every gift opportunity and turn it into a sewing opportunity! My church put on a casual baby shower for 2 friends of mine who recently had their 2nd and 4th babies. They asked for diapers and wipes but of course I’m a rebel so I sewed something cute instead.

I decorated these little onesies using a combination of english paper piecing (EPP) and machine appliqué.

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I also made these name buntings to hang behind the gift tables. I think these will be really fun hung in their nurseries or saved for future birthday parties.


Here’s another non-quilt project that I’m in the middle of:


I don’t know what possessed me to make my first bag such a challenging one! Well no, actually I do know. It was this picture on In Color Order. How cute is that?? I ordered the pattern and it hasn’t actually been too bad considering it was only my 1st ever bag and my 2nd ever zipper. I only have a few steps to go until I can use it… Assuming my husband and I can manage to get away from our kiddos for a weekend. So not likely. 🙂

Linking with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle & Thread Thursday!

Sunday Stash: Anna Maria Horner edition

I said I wouldn’t post this weekend (on the day of rest no less!) but I couldn’t resist the Sunday Stash link up at Quiet Play.

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This is the really excellent mail I got from Anna Maria Horner this week! Sooo pretty. My main objective was to acquire some pearl cotton 8 for the hand quilting I’d like to do on the appliqué project I blogged about here. (Did you see Sarah Fielke herself commented? Best moment of my week!) 🙂

But then once you’re already paying shipping… you might as well add something from the sale section. I’ve seen people referencing and using voile a lot lately so I was curious to see some. That little stack was only $10! They’re fat quarters but a little bigger than quilting cotton fat quarters because voile comes on 54 inch bolts. I’m going to do some block tests with it and I promise to blog about it. I was thinking about being a complete rebel and making a mini that mixes all sorts of fabrics you’re not supposed to mix and see what happens!


A couple more fun things I bought this week: the Liberty Love book, source of the famous Marcelle Medallion quilt that I desperately would like to try. Here’s a great example: Red Pepper Quilts (she’s a quilt genius). It’s a more challenging quilt (templates! Oh my!) but I think I’m ready…? I’d like to give it a shot anyway. Anyone want to join along? We could do a border per week…

I also got a Kwik Klip that’s supposed to make pin basting easier and a Clover open-side thimble that Sarah Fielke recommends for hand quilting in her free tutorial video.

Ok, see you tomorrow for my last WIP post! (Unless I started something NEW this weekend… I’ll leave that a mystery so you have to come back.)

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WIP Week: the “wish I had a girl” quilt


Here is today’s WIP!

But first a little trip down memory lane. I made my very first quilt when we moved my older boy into a big boy room before the birth of his little brother. Apparently my husband and I are no good at making baby girls! He likes to think this is because he’s so manly. 🙂


(Don’t look too close, I was a total sewing novice… terrified each time I needed to refill my bobbin. I folded it so you can’t see the hole in the backing where my seam allowance was too small and has fallen apart in the wash.)

Despite the fact that I don’t have a girl myself, I have purchased some pinks and purples in anticipation of someday having a niece (I have 2 wonderful nephews!) or making a quilt for a friend’s daughter. So when I got my new sewing machine and needed to test it out, I decided a simple square patchwork quilt would be a perfect way to get to know my new machine… and I made it fuchsia! With a little blue just because my mind can’t comprehend a quilt without blue in it.

This is the fabric pull I started with.


Usually when I do square patchwork I make a little color chart based on a 9-patch. With the one pictured below for instance I made a rule that there’d be a red in the middle of each 9 patch and then designated the 8 surrounding spots with specific colors as well. This helped me get the colors evenly distributed. It also created some very subtle secondary designs that I really like. Can you see vertical turquoise stripes and the dark blue-gray lines crossing the quilt at an angle?

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I wanted to try to loosen up a bit with this one but I’m honestly regretting it. I just sewed them into pretty pairs and then assembled rows of 6 that looked nice together. I figured I’d be able to mix and match it from there but it’s not coming together. I keep getting squares of the same fabric too close together. I don’t have a design wall yet and that may be the problem. Or it might be that there are not enough fabrics to make this work. (I keep trying to explain to my husband that it takes A LOT of fabric to create a proper stash…) The last time I made a big fabric order I included a few fabrics (on sale!) that I knew would work with this quilt and my plan now is to unpick it just a bit and hope that adding just a few additional fabrics will help me finish this.

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I’m planning to do some kind of hand quilting in the solid squares.

Almost every quilt I’ve made has had a very specific destination in mind but this one is currently homeless. I think it might be a good contender to start an Etsy store but I’m not sure.

On Monday I’ll share my last WIP quilt and a few recent non-quilt projects.

I’m going to take the weekend off! Ha ha this blogging is like a job. But a really really fun one. Thanks for visiting.

WIP Week: a pair of Christmas quilts

The 5 projects I’ve shared this week all featured fabric choices and patterns I’ve been excited to show you. But I think it’s just as helpful to show and talk about projects that are less successful. The pictures aren’t as pretty, but the lessons are important.


The plan for these quilts is to continue the zig zags until there are 2 complete “zags” of the prints. The pattern of the red and white quilt will be exactly the same. They were inspired by this quilt on Pinterest (which I still like).


Now, there’s nothing really “wrong” with these quilts. When I purchased the fabrics a year and a half ago I had only completed 2 quilts. My exposure to the online quilting community was limited to Pinterest. This was actually my first time buying fabric at a quilt shop (boy did I notice the difference right away: softer, thicker, better!). At the time I had no idea I was buying 30’s fabrics and I had no idea the worlds of opportunity I would discover when I started shopping for fabric online.

I have since learned a lot about my style as a quilter. I’ve learned that even though it’s oh so hip to use solids and I genuinely admire the art some quilters can create out of the nothingness of solids… I do not like working with them. I get bored looking at them for the many hours it takes to make a quilt. For me, life is too short to work with solids.

I have come to believe that fabric choice is the absolute most important aspect of quilting. You might be thinking, “Well, yeah, obviously” but it wasn’t obvious to me at first. I would look at a quilt and say, “Oh, I like that but I would pick better fabrics.” Then when I started finishing my first several quilts I realized that it’s much harder than it looks to pick just the right ones (or to afford to buy them all).

So the question we sometimes come to is this: when we’re disappointed in a project do we press on or move on? In this case, I have chosen to press on (though somewhat slowly). I’m too far along to stop now, and I can’t bare to waste $80 of fabric I’m unlikely to reuse. I still believe these will be charming Christmas quilts to put on the boys’ beds each holiday season. Maybe they won’t win any awards or get repinned on Pinterest but they will bring holiday cheer to my home.

I am planning to hand quilt them with pearl cotton 8 a quarter inch in on top and bottom of each white stripe. I am hoping that will make them a little more charming. I’m even toying with the idea of using an unexpected color (blue?) to funkify them a bit. Is that crazy?

Tomorrow I will redeem myself by sharing a simple square patchwork quilt containing many, lovely modern prints! I hope you’ll come back and check it out.

WIP Week: English Paper Piecing

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I have three different hexagon EPP projects right now so it seemed appropriate/convenient/efficient to share them all together!


The first 2 projects are related. This one stems from a desire to purchase more, more, more fabric. I wish I had unlimited funds to order complete sets of the lines I love, but alas I am not a millionaire. So I thought it’d be fun to at least be able to get a bunch of mini charm packs. So I bought a huge pack of 1200 one-inch hexies intending to combine mini charm packs with my existing scraps to create an uber-scrappy masterpiece. Hexagons are measured just along one side and 1 inchers are just perfect for 2.5 inch squares.

But then… after I got going I became enamored of the way the lower volume pieces looked together.


So right now I have the brighter, more saturated pieces separated. If one scrappy hexagon quilt is good, 2 is better! But we’ll see what I decide in the end.


The next one I’m calling Hex Stripes. It was inspired by a deep need to cut into Joel Dewberry’s line Notting Hill. I’m loosely planning to use it in the new guest room we’ll get once our little one is old enough to bunk with his older brother. (But let’s be honest- it’s going to primarily be a sewing room, finally getting me out of the dining room.) These hexagons are bigger- 2.5 inches per side.

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I discovered EPP via Amy Gibson’s free 2012 block of the month on Craftsy (it’s still available and it’s awesome so check it out). Just realized I have now linked Craftsy in 3/3 blog posts. 🙂 I promise they’re not paying me.

Anyway, I love EPP for many reasons but I’ll try to narrow it down without rambling:

  • Relaxing. For one thing, it is a nice break from machine sewing. It’s great to do in front of the tv at night. I often feel too tired after the kids’ bed time to do proper machine sewing but EPP takes less energy.
  • Portable. I have a little plastic container I can take with me outside when my boys are playing. I can’t wait for the next road trip we take. I will be all set! I think I must hate sitting still.


  • Charming. EPP is so old fashioned. It makes me feel connected to a mythical group of Laura Ingles types from the past. Is that weird?
  • Versatile. Another great feature of EPP is the way it handles shapes that are more difficult for your machine (hexagons & diamonds, for example). It’s also great for appliqué because it creates finished sides.

On the other hand, it’s slow people. But I think it’s important to approach EPP projects a little differently. It’s not about efficiency! It’s not the type of project that you start and finish the same month or maybe even year. These 3 projects are long term, especially the mini charm pack ones. I don’t force myself to work on these projects if I don’t feel like it. There’s plenty of time in my life to get these done eventually. In a couple of years it will be so worth it!

I do my EPP a little differently- I hide my basting stitches so I can leave them in. I think it’ll be my first tutorial when my WIP posts are caught up! I taught a class to my Mom and her friends and it was great fun.

Tune in for another WIP tomorrow: a pair of Christmas quilts!

(Linking up with Lee and Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday!)

WIP Week: Swooning for baby “X”


I can’t say who this is for juuuust in case his Mommy reads this. But in my mind the “x” in the name is a cuter name that I might get a chance to share here sometime soon.


This pattern (called Swoon) from Camille Roskelley (co-designer of the great fabric line Happy Go Lucky) has  taken the internet quilting world by storm. I’ve heard it has a crazy popular Flickr group but I’m still trying to figure the whole Flickr thing out. Any tips?

Camille has a great Craftsy class that features this pattern! It’s another favorite of mine. She’s so cute.

I changed the pattern just a bit by adding the stripes because I wanted the quilt to be rectangular. It just makes sense to me that quilts should be rectangular because beds are rectangular! This quilt is also the beginning of the end of “crib size” quilts for me. My kids have soared past baby stage so quickly that I realized that crib size just isn’t practical. A few more inches in each direction and you’ve got a proper toddler size that they can use for much much longer! This quilt is about 53 by 78 and it really wasn’t that much more work. I hope baby X sleeps with it until it falls apart! I always tell people it would be an honor if the baby poops on my quilt. I want my quilts to be loved and used and abused!

Here’s a closeup so you can judge whether my seams match up! I think they’re actually pretty good. I sure tried hard. I had a bit of a breakthrough with my half square triangles (HSTs). The patterns calls for the method where you draw a line and sew a 1/4 in on either side of it. Mine always always turned out a tiny bit small with that method, even using the Fons & Porter quarter inch marking tool. So this time I sewed just to the side of the line and they were much better! I was pretty excited. My flying geese still need work I’m afraid. I need to do a whole quilt of just flying geese to practice. It’d be fun to do a post on trial and error with flying geese and HSTs.


This quilt features 3 different blue fabrics from my first fabric designer love, Denyse Schmidt. I still snatch her fabrics up regularly and find them to be very useful stash builders.

This quilt actually only just barely qualifies as a WIP because it is so nearly done! Just about 12 more inches of binding to sew while watching tv tonight. I can’t believe I used to dread the binding! It’s one of my favorite steps now.


Once it’s bound I will wash it (cold water with a color catcher) before it gets sent off to surprise baby X’s Mommy. I’ve started washing all my quilts before sending them out so the receiver isn’t surprised by the change in appearance that occurs after the first wash (referred to as “quilt crinkle”). How do you guys feel about quilt crinkle? I’ve tried to like it but I’ll admit that I don’t. There’s just something about a nice, crisply starched unwashed quilt! I recently learned that quilts are never washed before photographing for publication. That makes sense but it also sets us average home quilters up for disappointment when our quilts don’t look like their pictures!

Come back tomorrow to see the 3 (yes, 3!) long-term english paper piecing projects I’m working on!

WIP Week: Sarah Fielke Applique

To kick things off this week I’m going to post a work in progress each day! It’ll be interesting to see how many days that takes because to be honest I’m not sure how many WIPs I have. Not too many I hope but I bet we’ll make it through the week.

Today I’m going to feature the project I am literally working on right now. Ok, not literally right now because I’m literally typing on a computer right now. But it is the project I will be working on during nap time. Have I mentioned I have 2 toddler boys? I’ve had to work very hard to achieve an overlapping nap time! It’s truly delightful.

Anyway, what you really want is pictures so here we go:


This project is from Sarah’s class on Craftsy which I really highly recommend! I’ve probably watched it through 3 times. Sometimes I just put a class on in the background while I sew to keep me company! I do that with APQS radio too. Have you checked that out yet?

I have several objectives with this project.

  1. First is to try needle turn appliqué for the first time. I have done a little machine appliqué and some english paper piecing and dresden appliqué but never the ultimate appliqué challenge.
  2. Second is to try hand quilting. I just adore the look of Sarah Fielke-style hand quilting. It adds a whole extra element of love and detail.
  3. Third is to finally cut into the Anna Maria Horner scrap bags I recently ordered! It is sometimes so hard to cut new fabric, isn’t it? You’d think scrap bags would make that easier but somehow that hasn’t been the case. I think it’s because this is my first experience with AMH fabric and I am very much in love.

So far I have gotten everything cut and glued down. I also sewed one side of a bias strip stem down before bed last night just to see how it went! That wasn’t really very brave because it was similar to other appliqué I’ve already tried. Once I get started on the actual needle turn part my skills will be put to the test.


I’ll be back tomorrow with my next WIP!

(Thus concludes my inaugural blog post. Yeah me!)