slowly but surely…

breakfast mess  fave block 2nd fave block pattern emerges

…I am building a snake trail* quilt.  This hand-stitching** project is serving as an excellent reminder that, in my fairly busy*** life, I actually have quite a few small pockets of down time.


*This is a pattern from Denyse Schmidt’s latest book.  I’m ALMOST completely sticking to the pattern, which is uncharacteristic — and really nice for a change.  I’ll write more on the process soon.

**I started this as a hand-piecing project, but when I do find time to use my sewing machine, I go for it.

***When I say “busy,” I mean “full.”  An abundance of good things.  I am SO grateful for that.


housewarming gift


My youngest sister purchased a beautiful home on Cape Cod that is practically a stone’s throw from the beach.  I made her this grocery bag holder as a housewarming gift.  {I included a bottle of wine as well.} I didn’t use a tutorial because I’ve gotten to the point where I can figure these things out on my own.  That said, I know that Jeni at In Color Order has one that looks great.

I used the Paris map fabric as my point of focus and chose prints that coordinated and, in some cases, had meaning.  My sister’s middle name is Green, she loves all things nautical, and one of those clothespin girls is beaching it {i.e. wearing a bikini}.  I love this sort of project.  It’s pretty quick to make and its something that my sister will actually use.  Very satisfying.

Here’s to lots of fun vacation-time on Cape Cod with a free place to stay!

just a quick hello

I just wanted to pop in and say hello and let you know that I am still sewing when I can, but haven’t been able to blog as much as I’d like. That said, I have six (!) pages of handwritten notes for my next installment of the Confessions of a Fabric Stasher series so I hope to post “part three” really soon.  In the meantime, I thought I would share these zipper pouches I made as end-of-the-year teacher gifts.  I sewed them without following a tutorial and I didn’t run into any glitches, so I feel like I can confidently state that I have conquered the zipper–or this application of it, anyway. Be back soon!

nursery school pillow project

These two pillows are the end result of a fun little project I organized with my son’s nursery school class.  It was a really nice way to get involved in the classroom and share my favorite craft with a bunch of adorable small people.   I was very fortunate that a friend who handles all the administrative aspects of the school offered her assistance on some very key steps.  Here is a quick summary of the project:

-I prepped enough half square triangles (HSTs) to cover two over-sized pillows from the classroom reading nook. I started with 4.5″ squares of fabric.  For the smaller HST’s, I used this brilliant method.  For the larger HST’s, I just layered two squares on top of each other, cut them once on the diagonal to create the triangles, and sewed the triangles together.

-My friend used a permanent marker to draw two grids directly on two pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing.  The grids were drawn on the “sticky” side of the interfacing.

-I went into the classroom and read the class a book about a quilt.  I really wanted to read them this one, but for several practical reasons related to this particular age group, I went with this one.

-After reading the book, I placed one grid on the floor and had the kids sit around it in a circle. I placed the HSTs in a bowl and instructed the kids to a) choose one, b) place it on a small square within the grid and then c) pass the bowl to the next person.  We continued like this until the grid filled up.  {You could speed up the process by using two bowls of HSTs or by asking the children to choose four HSTs at a time.   I did this after a while because the exercise did end up taking longer than I thought it would.}

-Once both grids were filled completely, the kids were finished designing their patchwork and went out to play.  My friend and I fused the fabric squares onto the interfacing using an iron.

-My friend took both grids home and used this method to sew the patchwork together. She did a beautiful job and saved me a ton of time.  I was so, so lucky.

-I  took the two pieces of patchwork and followed this really simple tutorial to insert a zipper and assemble the pillow covers.

That’s all!

A few things to note:

-I used solid fabric from my stash. I decided against using prints because I wanted the patterns of the geometric shapes to shine.  I was inspired by this post on the  Summersville blog.  I loved what she said about how she ended up loving some of the color combos that she had initially considered less attractive. I really didn’t like some of the individual half square triangle combinations I had put together. But as a whole, I love the effect.

-It was interesting to watch the kids make patterns.  At first they were just chosing colors they liked, but later they realized they could make different shapes if they were careful about how they placed their fabric squares.

-Originally, I thought I was going to use only the smaller sized HSTs to cover both pillows.  But then reality set in when I realized how long it was taking me to prepare the project.  That said, I am glad I got a little lazy because I like seeing the two pillows, side by side, in different scales.

-This project could also work as wall art.  It might also be a good concept to adopt if you were designing a quilt to raise money at a school auction.  The only trick is that you couldn’t use interfacing and you would probably want to use larger HSTs.  You would have to take a picture of the design that the kids came up with, and then carefully pick up the squares in the correct order so that you could sew them together fairly easily. But wouldn’t it be neat to have a full quilt that was designed by your child and his/her classmates that has such a fresh and modern look?

-I never could have designed these two beautiful pieces of artwork myself.  I just don’t have the confidence that my mind would allow me to be so completely and wonderfully random.  If you want to achieve a look like this, get a bunch of five year olds to do the design work for you!

On behalf of the nursery school, I am entering these pillows into the Festival of Half Square Triangles at Canoe Ridge Creations.  I realize that sewing HSTs together randomly is not exactly a novel idea, but I do think that the concept of the project is a good model for mom’s who sew and want to get involved in the classroom.  If this project is awarded a prize, I bet the nursery school will put their winnings to good use!

There are a ton of other really great creative projects using HSTs that you can view here.


I try really hard to avoid making mistakes when I piece together quilts, but when it does happen, I Iike that there is a quaint name for my error. Do you see that star on the bottom right-hand side?  That’s my humility block.  The Volkswagon van is upside down–but I’m not sweating it!

I am loving this quilt!  It will be sent back to my friend tomorrow and she will sew on the next border.

another round

The medallion quilt I am making with a friend is growing!  I made the center block and my project partner added the sweet, traditional border.  Wouldn’t this make a great pillow, as is?  I am feeling a little hesitant because my instincts are telling me that the next round of blocks should be of a more complicated nature and I am afraid I might muck up the simplicity of the quilt as it stands now. At first I was considering making a bunch of sawtooth stars, but I think a border of friendship stars might do the trick.   Rows of equilateral triangles could be fun too, but at the moment I feel like making some fun, fussy cut stars–see photo below.  I’ll post again after I’ve made some progress.

I also thought I mention that Kelly has a baby quilt in her etsy shop right now that is simple and stunning and uses this Heather Ross Mendocino fabric line in a wonderful way.  If you are in the market for a unique baby gift, this would be perfect. {She’s not charging enough for it, so snatch it up quickly if you think you’d like to have it!}

something for me

I thought I’d share a project I am currently working on that is something I am making for myself.  Block-by-block, I have been building a lap-sized postage stamp quilt that will house a gazillion prints I love.  Once it is finished, it will sit in a basket in our livingroom, ready and waiting for me to use whenever I’m sitting on the couch. {I had considered making it large enough to use on our queen sized bed, but I’ve decided that I will enjoy it more if it is used in this way.}  I started by cutting a bunch of 2.5″ squares out of my scraps.  Once I made blocks with that pile, I set up a few swaps with some flickr friends and have been making blocks from squares that they have sent me. I’ve since received donations from other friends as well.  I’ve also linked into a scrapbuster swap group that will allow me to swap blocks I’ve made for ones made by other crafters. It will be fun to see the variety of blocks that will result.

The beauty of this project is its simplicity. There is no color scheme and there is certainly no real plan. I just grab a handful of squares and arrange them in a manner that is pleasing to me. When I have time to pull out my sewing machine, I mindlessly chain piece them together. I can sew a block in fifteen minutes.  The process is freeing.

Of the many projects {five, I think, which is A LOT for me!} I have going currently, this one is my favorite by far. What began as an attempt to catalog a countless number of fabric bits that I adore has now become a testament to how generous and friendly this online community of crafters truly is. Most of the time, as I piece together these small bits of fabric, I am not thinking about anything in particular. That is the beauty of this basic, almost rhythmic task. But there are times when I think about the countless kind, generous people I have met through this online platform and how much their friendship, advice, and camaraderie has influenced the things that I make. I get really excited thinking about the final product. It’s going to be such a great quilt!

ETA: I am very lucky in that I now have all the scrappy 2.5″ squares I need to make this quilt. For the time being, I won’t be setting up any more swaps. 

getting scrappy

I’ve just realized that I don’t have any strict upcoming sewing deadlines. This is a good thing, of course.  I plan to make a twin sized quilt for my daughter, but that is a long term project that won’t be rushed.  {I think I’ve decided on making her a very scrappy equilateral triangle quilt.} I also have two lap sized patchwork blankets that need to be finished. They were made in collaboration with my son and a friend of his and have been languishing for a while now.  It’s time to finish them up. But otherwise, the field is wide open and I’m pretty excited about that.

When I don’t have a strong feeling about what I want to make next, I  go straight to my scrap boxes and just start sewing stuff together. I will try a paper pieced quilt block I’ve been curious about or a brilliant new-to-me technique for sewing together half square triangles, for example. Usually, one thing leads to another and I stumble upon my next project.

Because I find so much inspiration by working with scraps, I like to keep them fairly well organized.  One of my go-to activities is sorting and cutting my scraps.  I use templates to cut them into 2.5 inch and 4.5 inch squares and also make piles of long strips and shorter bits. Sometimes I just need to connect with my craft, even for just a short bit of time.

{“Connect with my craft” sounds pretty dramatic. I am chuckling at myself right now but am going to let it stand.}

hello there

Just popping in with a little bit of patchwork to say hello. As has become somewhat customary, I’ve been a bit neglectful with regard to posting on this blog.  All is well in our corner of the world.  Life is full, in a very positive way, and blogging is the one item that isn’t fitting in quite as nicely as some of the other good things that are going on.  I’m still making stuff, that’s for sure. I should have two quilts, one of which to be accompanied by a free pattern, to share within the next few weeks. Hope all is well!

big log cabin quilt

I know. I am posting two quilts in one week. It’s kind of obnoxious, right?

I picked my brother and his wife this year in our Christmas pick way back in the summer, so I had lots of time to think about what I wanted to make them.  At first I thought I would make them an advent calendar and send a bunch of little gifts and chocolate to fill the pockets.  But then they moved from Montana to the beautiful seaside city of Portland, Maine and that’s when I decided that the theme for their gift was going to be warmth. I solicited them for info on colors that they like/hate and they responded that they like all the colors but that they weren’t too crazy about white. I felt a little bit of pressure with this quilt because my brother is an artist in his own right and a very creative person.  I wanted to make something that felt like “them” and I also wanted the quilt design to be original. I really didn’t want to follow someone else’s pattern because I am pretty sure that if my brother were to ever make a quilt of his own, he wouldn’t follow a pattern either. {He is also an architect, so he knows how to design.}

I picked a bunch of solid colors that to me say “warmth,” added a small bit of prints, and worked on an oversized log cabin block. When I was piecing the top of the quilt together, I tore the fabric rather than cut it with a rotary cutter.  It’s amazing how nicely good quality fabric tears in a straight line. My favorite little bit in this one is a tiny rectangle of an orange print that blends into one of the solid orange “logs” of fabric. The straight line quilting is in the shape of long rectangles and, just like the last one I posted, it is a throw-sized quilt. This one was really fun to make because I came up with my own design and just went with what felt right.  I think I need to do that more often.

I think they were really happy to receive this quilt.  My brother commented that he likes that it has a modern feel. His wife said that her favorite part was a sailboat print, which I used because they now live in a port city.  I was glad she mentioned it because it was the one print in the whole quilt that I wasn’t so sure about.  I am so pleased that they like it and that it is going to a good home.  {Lots of love, you guys!}