Friday, May 29, 2015

the last of the bags

I finished the last of the graduation 'money holders'.

This gal's mom told me she liked pink, pale aqua and gold.

I fretted a good bit over fabric choices,
thinking I really didn't have anything just right,
and almost ordered fabric.

Then I reminded myself,
these are just supposed to be simple bags,
to take the place of a greeting card;
they aren't the entire gift.
It would have not been a bit prudent of me to order fabric.
But still, 
I want the young lady to like it....

I was folding my fabric immediately after cutting it on my last project
(I never do that.
In fact, my black and white remnants and scraps are still in a box in the dining room!)
when I realized that The Way of Flowers by Rashida Coleman had all of those colors :-)
(and then some!)

What is the secret to pressing a bag? I sure need to figure that out!!

I paired it with some gold Cotton + Steel,
a mauve-y pink solid for the lining,
a berry pink zipper,
and a little scrap of teal with white polka dots Lecien for the zipper.

I tried the fusible fleece again.
 I liked the structure it added to this one,
and since the bag is much bigger than the other one I'd used it on,
the puffiness didn't bother me.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out
and hope the graduate likes it, too!

It's not for graduation,
but I had one more bag I needed to make.

A few months ago,
while I was still piecing Ties That Bind,
I found 
(what I thought was)
the perfect fabric for the back.
But it was from Ikea,
and the nearest Ikea is 5 hrs away.
They don't sell fabric online.

I put our a plea for help on Facebook,
and one of my friends
went and bought some for me,
 and got it in the mail right away!
(That's huge - I have a horrible time getting to the post office.
My nieces and nephews, poor things, can vouch for that.)

I wanted to make a little something
to thank her for her trouble.
(Actually - some other friends went to their Ikea and tried to get it, too,
but it was out of stock.
I should probably make them a little something also.... hmmm...)

The fabric ended up not being perfect for my quilt after all,
but hey,
I've got a lot of Ikea growing things themed fabric....

I decided to use some of it :-)
It looks fabulous with red, so I used a red zipper
and a scrap from my still-being-quilted
- but only when I'm not working on other projects -

I added batting and quilted the exterior pieces  in a 1" square grid 
with a little bit of hand quilting thrown in for good measure :-)
I do love a mix of hand and machine stitching!
It's becoming my signature, I think.

I used some leftover black Widescreen for the lining and the little tab on the zipper.

Leftover from what you ask?
The binding for Ties That Bind.
That's right, I ordered 108 inch wide backing fabric
to use as the binding.
Which turned out to be a fabulous (and inexpensive) idea;
It only took me 62 minutes
from the time I opened my package
to make,
 and press to the back,
binding for a queen size quilt.

Yay for backings for bindings!

Back to the bag...

Again, I just made up the size, letting the fabric lead me,
and installed the zipper ala Anna

getting this deliciousness to my friend will require super human effort on my part.
I have to take it to the post office.

I really hope she likes it ;-)

linking up with the scraptastic Amanda Jean and Finish it up Friday.

I'm also sharing the link at Elizabeth Foss' recently resurrected With Needle and thREAD.
I read Coal Run on our trip and finished it up after we arrived home.
It was an enjoyable read;
I teared up a few times, and laughed several times, or at least chuckled, too,
but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

kitchen help needed

We've been working with a draftsman on our house plans.

(This is really going to happen!!!:-)

He doesn't like my kitchen set up.
I don't like his.

if you have a stovetop (or full range) that is not placed along a wall,
I need your help

Tell me,
do you love it?
hate it?
like it, but...?


How often do you cook?

Is this non-wall stove in an island in the middle of your kitchen?
or is it against a bar counter in an open floor plan,
so that when cooking you face the dining or living room?

thanks a bunch!

two good days

Many of you know I've been on a quest for quite some time.
To lose fat, yes,
but more importantly,
to just be healthy.
To feel good, 
no - great -
most of the time.

I had two days recently
(May 4th and 5th)
where I felt great.
Truly great,
for the first time in 
well, let's leave it at 
a really long time.

I thought I had reached a turning point.
That all of my efforts over the past few years were finally paying off!

And then Wednesday (the 6th) came,
and I was back to my usual self,
(only maybe a bit worse even than usual)

I tried to remember everything I'd done the previous 2 days
and duplicate it,
to no avail.

I don't know why I had those 2 days,
but I'm so grateful that I did!
It was nice to experience how it felt to really feel good,
and it gives me hope that I can feel great 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Can I ask a favor of you?

If you don't have a different favorite large quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival,
would you mind taking a second and voting for mine??

All you have to do is click on this link,
then find the photo of my quilt

and click on the little heart in the upper right hand corner of the picture/link.
The heart will turn red ~ and that's it.

If you wanted to share the link, and invite your friends to vote for my quilt, too,
feel free :-)

Thanks a bunch!

to Philly (and Delaware) and back

Tyler and I took a quick trip to Wilmington (Delaware) over the weekend for a niece's wedding.

We arrived in Philadelphia at 10 pm on Saturday night,
and got back home, to a clean house,
(where we'd left 4 kids in Brandon's care!)
almost exactly 48 hrs later.

(People tend to freak out a little when you tell them your 16 yr old boy is in charge.
But Brandon's not your typical 16 yr old.....)

We really didn't intend to get to spend any time with Scott and Jackie or Brittany
(and we didn't get to spend much with Brit (the bride)
but we ended up spending several hours with S&J
and some of their good friends (Dee and Scot)
and Scott's mom and aunt.
Lots (and lots) of laughs!!
(but not a lot of sleep... ;-)

It was nice to get away a bit,
and spend time with friends (old and new)
and to witness (another) beautiful couple begin their lives together.

Brandon, thanks for holding down the fort and feeding the troops.
and running off the coyote...
Love you so much!

Friday, May 22, 2015

practice pays off

Brandon and Josiah have been working at doing backflips 
for quite some time.

they both nailed perfect backflips!

Great job, Guys!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

fabric fun

I've been having so much fun playing with fabric!

I love being able to bless others with my sewing,
but when I sew for other people,
be it gifts or commissioned work,
I feel a pressure that I don't have when I'm sewing for just our family.

when Saturday found me with a few hours to myself
I made the most of it.
(Tyler took the kids to Family Day at his work, and let me stay home all by my lonesome.
Thanks, Love!)

I have plenty of projects (including more gifts) that could have occupied my time,
but I decided 
since these were 'found hours'
I would just play.

I pulled out the fabric stack that I had carefully curated
and was really missing color,
(There are so many lovely fabrics in the pile!)
and got busy.

(I had cut most of the fabric Friday night while Brandon and Tyler were at a movie with friends)

even though I adore a well starched block, 
I'd decided not to starch this time,
because I wanted to enjoy the feel of the different substrates.
Enjoy it, I have!
(My goodness, I love Art Gallery fabrics! And Lecien.)

I'm telling you, 
every second has been pure pleasure
and I have been sneaking  15 minutes here and 5 there to work on stars.

The 16 patch blocks are practically making themselves.

I lay out the pieces to one star block at a time,
then remove, 
in an orderly fashion, the 2nd set of star points and the corner squares
and take the remaining pieces to the machine
where I chain piece the first 4 points
then sew a pair of strips for a 16 patch block.
Leaving the sewn strip set under the presser foot,
I cut the threads to the star pieces,
trim off excess background fabric, then press (toward the star fabric),
then re-arrange the pieces
and add the 4 triangle star points back in.
Sew those.
then feed the second strip set for the 16 patch through the machine.
trim, press (again, towards the star), trim again - this time into a 4 1/2 in square,
then rearrange the star and replace the corner pieces,
and sew the squares into rows.
When I can no longer sew a seam without pressing,
I sew a pair of 2 patches together (somewhere along the way, I pressed and subcut the strip pairs)
then press all seams towards the background fabric
and join the top and middle row,
sew another bit on the 16 patch
then sew the bottom row onto the other two,
and then another bit of the 16 patch....

By the time I have a completed star block,
I also have a half finished 16 patch,
just by continuing to chain piece 
rather than cutting my  threads each time I needed to press before moving on.

Practically making themselves!

I showed my stack of blocks to Tyler when they got home.
He said something along the lines of, "That's a lot of colors."

Yes it is.

Linking up with Lee again.
Wonky stars and 16 patch quilt idea borrowed shamelessly copied from Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


We're playing backgammon.
I'm losing.
(I've been on a long losing streak.)
(Dammit Bobby!)

And Tyler says, "Is your body hurting?"

I answer,
after doing a quick assessment of all major muscles and joints.

"Because you seem like a sore loser"


(He admitted he was just a little bit nervous about that one - 
I'd either think it was hilarious,
hit him.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

two in one, another zip pouch

Another winning pattern from Svetlana, the two in one pouch,
with a few little changes.

I added a key ring and a detachable wristlet strap.
(note to self - the tab only needs to be 1 - 1 1/4")

I was quite tickled with how I worked out the strap
(after pressing both sides to the center, then in half,
I threaded the strap through my swivel hook.
I then opened the ends of the strip, and joined them as I would quilt binding,
resulting in no bulk :-)
Topstitching was the final step)

It occurs to me now that there may not be anything special about that method,
but at 11:30 at night when I was sewing it up,
I was feeling pretty clever ;-)

I switched out the velcro for snaps
and used regular interfacing instead of the recommended fusible fleece.
(probably could have shortened the closure tab a bit as a result)

This makes 3 down;
1 to go
(yep, got another announcement)

I'm thinking I may need to order some more zippers ;-)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

introducing.... Ties That Bind, a unique Dresden plate quilt

You guys!
I am so pleased to introduce to you,
in its entirety,
my made with 150ish hours of love
(and a little blood, a lot of sweat, and even a few tears)
Ties That Bind

a black and white quilt for my awesome baby brother, Matt,
and his beautiful (inside and out!) bride, Marin.

After Marin showed off her gorgeous engagement ring at Thanksgiving festivities last year,
she said,
"So - I guess we need to order a quilt now :-) "

We talked a little bit about what she wanted 
- namely a bunch of black and white print fabrics.

No other colors.

(I am just a little bit of a rebel, 
so I defied her wishes and added a tiny bit of red stitching to the label ;-)
(She didn't mind)

We decided (I decided) that instead of them hiring me to make it,
the quilt would be their wedding gift.

She wanted to leave the design totally up to me,
and reminded me
that while she normally doesn't like quilts, she's loved every one of mine...

After several hours of searching pinterest and googling  'black and white quilt' for inspiration,
but not finding anything that seemed remotely right,
I remembered this dresden quilt,
a knew it would be perfect!

Using my handy dandy graph paper and a sharpened pencil,
I designed a quilt with 11 (mostly double pointed) dresden plates,
some whole, some partial,
ranging in size from to 15" - 33" in diameter.

My brother and his lovely wife are both so special and unique
 and I wanted the quilt to reflect that
so I planned for all of the dresdens to be different sizes,
both inner and outer circumferences.
(then I had to spend a good bit of time figuring out what size to cut my blades so I'd get those sizes!)
The insides of the dresdens were all quilted differently, as well.

I spent about a month buying fabrics,
some basic B&Ws that I thought played well together,
and some that were especially suited to Matt and Marin, 
based on their hobbies and professions.

I cut into my 38 fabrics on Jan 12th,
and started making Dresdens.

When I had those all sewn onto their background fabrics
I decide it wasn't really complete
and made more whole and partial plates
until I was happy with the overall composition.

Then I pieced a back with leftover fabrics
and made a label.
(stupidly forgetting to add both the name of the quilt, and my name. sheesh)
Their wedding date was pieced using kona white, a black dot fabric,
because I totally fell in love with the idea after seeing it.

At Mary (the big-stitch hand quilting master!)'s suggestion, I used wool batting
(which is just lovely and I will definitely be using it again)
and Tyler helped me baste it in late February
and I spent the next 7 weeks quilting,
both by machine and by hand,
going around and around and around.
(and through...)

I don't know if you know this,
but a dresden plate has 20 blades
(well, normally - some of mine don't (?)
which means, for each time around a plate,
the quilt must be turned forty times.

Forty dang times!

I used about 1 1/4 balls of size 8 perle cotton and 2 needles for the hand-quilting.
My favorite needle for hand quilting remains a size 8 straw needle from foxglove cottage.

I've tried various needles, recommended by various quilters far more experienced than myself,
but I always return (very quickly!) to my beloved milliners.
I can only conclude that those women have not yet tried my favorite ;-)
and have decided to not spend any more money trying other needles.

I finished sewing the binding (by hand) (with a size 10 milliner ;-) on April 19th,
13 weeks and 6 days after I cut into my stack of black and white fabrics.


Matt and Marin,
I hope you love your quilt and use it.
And I hope every time you use it, or even just see it, you feel treasured :-)
We love you both ever so much!!

If you are here from the quilt festival, 
Thanks for stopping by;
I hope you enjoyed your visit - feel free to poke around a bit :-)

If you're a regular visitor ~ thanks for cheering me on
on this quilt journey!
(and patiently indulging me as I carry on ;-)

Your kind words and 'atta girls' bring a smile to my face ~ thank-you!

(and of course, thanks to my guys for helping me photograph this beast :-)

I'm entering this queen sized quilt in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival in the large quilt category
and linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced, even though it is no longer a work in progress :-)
and fabric designer AmandaJean's Finish it Fridays