The Briar Rose Quilt

Sometimes it is nice to sew with some pink. And strawberries.  And frogs.

Briar Rose Quilt

And sometimes it is nice to make a simple quilt and let the fabric do the heavy lifting.  Especially when it is so pretty.

Briar Rose Quilt

I spent a lot of time trying what to sew up with my charm pack of Briar Rose by Heather Ross.  I had many ideas and a couple of them even made to the design wall. 

But I just did not want to cut it up too much.  Those frogs. 

Briar Rose Quilt

Briar Rose Quilt

And the other whimsical goodies hiding the patterns.

Briar Rose QuiltBriar Rose Quilt

So I ended up a pattern I have done before-this quilt by Elizabeth Hartman.  It is a great pattern for a beginner and the fabrics can shine.

Briar Rose Quilt

I quilted it with my favorite wave and backed it with some girly purple polka dot. 

Briar Rose Quilt

Since I do not have any little girls in my house and the little one who lives here already has plenty of quilts, this one is going to be a baby gift. 

Briar Rose Quilt

I copied my friend Jaime’s great idea and put the quilt label on the binding.  It is unobtrusive and easy. Perfect.

When the fabric line comes up later this month, I may have to get some more of those frogs.  And maybe the strawberries. In a couple of colors.

A Little Glimma

These Glimma triangles have been sitting on my design wall for a long time.  Possibly since January.

And they finally made it into a quilt.

A Little Glimma Quilt by Anything Pretty

For us.  That will stay in our house and we snuggle under watching TV.  Possibly my favorite kind.  Right after the kind that little boys snuggle under.

A Little Glimma Quilt by Anything Pretty

It was a super simple quilt…just a charm pack with some solids from my stash mixed in and cut into triangles.  I used the cardboard that came with the charm pack as a triangle template and hacked away.

A Little Glimma Quilt by Anything Pretty

The solid is quilter's linen and I love how it looks as well as how soft it is.

A Little Glimma Quilt by Anything Pretty

This is the first quilt I quilted with my new machine.  Quilting used to be one of my least favorite parts of making a quilt.  Not anymore.  I wanted to keep it simple and just did straight lines. Free motion quilting will be up next.

A Little Glimma Quilt by Anything Pretty

The back is some IKEA fabric we picked over Spring Break. 

A Little Glimma Quilt by Anything Pretty

A Little Glimma Quilt by Anything Pretty

And I may have discovered a new quilt picture-taking spot.  Unfortunately those flowers only bloom once a year and the entire street can see me battling to take a picture of a quilt. Over a fence. In the wind.

Maybe I should keep searching...

DIY Painted Foam Play Mat

I pin a lot of things.  And I have grand plans to complete oh 85% of them.  But somehow that does not happen and my pins just sit there looking pretty on my boards.  Maybe even mocking me a little bit.

As part of the Pinterest challenge over at Young House Love, Bower Power, Decor and the Dog and The Remodeled Life I decided to change that.  I probably should have chosen a faster project, or at least one with less drying time.  But thanks to two blizzards and days off work, this one got done.

DIY Painted Foam Playmat

Carter needed a play mat for his playspace.  And it needed to be indestructible.  And easy to clean.  Not to mention attractive.  Finding nothing that fit the above criteria, I decided to DIY.  

I was inspired by this…

(originally posted at Design Sponge)

The basic how-to is pretty simple.  Buy a cheap foam play mat, prime the non-bumpy side and paint with acrylic paints.  Finally seal with a couple of coats of polyurethane.

Easy and quick if you decide to make a large scale design with a couple of colors.  Small triangles on the other hand took a while to paint.  Especially since it took multiple coats to achieve color saturation.

But it was easy to paint while I was watching TV and somewhat relaxing to do- triangle after triangle after triangle.

In order to draw out the design, I used my sewing cutting mat to make a template out of cardboard of a 60 degree angle.

I drew straight lines on the primed mat-

DIY foam mat

And then used the template to draw in the angles.  My triangles are approximately 5 inches.  I mismeasured at some point and my triangles got a little jacked up in the middle.  I figured out my mistake, but did not want to re-prime and re do all my lines so I decided to channel my inner Tim Gunn and “make it work”.

DIY foam mat

I did not use tape to paint the triangles with the acrylic paint, so my lines are not perfectly straight but I like it that way as I think it looks more hand-painted.  At least that is what I am telling myself because it would have taken forever to tape.

DIY foam mat

Three coats of gloss polyurethane later, we have this.

DIY Painted Foam Playmat

All ready to be played on.

 DIY Painted Foam Playmat

In the basement play space that almost gets no direct light for decent pictures.  Especially when there is two feet of snow outside covering the windows.

DIY Painted Foam Playmat

DIY Painted Foam Playmat

The play area has had some other projects go in it, but I waiting until everything was done to blog about the space.  The rug was the last one, so that should be coming up.

So how does it hold up?  It has not cured the complete 24 hours as instructed but has already held up to books being dropped on it and a rousing game of stacking and knocking down blocks.  Before the poly went on, it seemed like it would crack easily.  But with the poly it seems a lot more pliable.  I will keep you posted. For now it is a hit.

And I am not painting triangles for awhile.

Tutu Round 2

My little sister got married a couple of weeks ago and we had a great time.

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Yes that is a newborn pacifier in his hand.  He hated them for many months and has now rediscovered their awesomeness. 

Carter was one of the ring bearers and even though we are not walking independently yet, he used his wagon walker to get down the aisle.

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Well almost.  We walked half way and realized that there were hundreds of people looking at us and then sat down.  Oh well.

My biased opinion just has to say that he was the cutest, but the flower girls gave him a run for his money in their tutus.

how to make a tutu

My sister used my tutorial to make the tutu’s (with slightly bigger pieces of tulle to compensate for going on a child and not a baby) and then I sewed on the white ribbon.

Which, while definitely not the longest, the most difficult part in my opinion.  (But if you don’t sew, you can still make the tutu and just not add the ribbon.) And if you saw how unstraight my sewing was trying to jam all that tulle under there you would think I have never sewn a stitch.  So not going to sew these on Etsy anytime soon.  Luckily you can not see the sewing, just all of their cuteness. how to make a tutu

I loved her idea of putting the flower girls in tutus and they were definitely the hit.  And I think they liked twirling in them too.  It is not everyday you get to wear a tutu.   Maybe a should make one for myself…

Burp Cloth Tutorial (Field-Tested)

When I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was start buying fabric for burp clothes.  Easy and cute and I finally had an excuse to buy some kids fabric besides giving it away to other people. There are precisely 23894 tutorials on the blogosphere for how to make them and I did the whole sewing fabric on a diaper method (don’t worry, I go into greater detail in the actual tutorial).

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They did look prettier before they were washed a million times.

burp cloth tutorial

I made over 20 like this and thought I was golden.  Because we were not going to have an urper anyway so they would just sit pretty in their box.

And then Carter made his arrival.  And he had reflux. IMG_7440

Which meant that burp clothes became a constant fashion accessory.  And that you did not get nice clothes on for work until you were literally walking out the door in case he erupted. 

You should be thanking me for not sharing a picture of him actually spitting up.  Because we have them.

Anyway with all the urping going on, the diaper burp clothes I made were showing their weaknesses.  Namely that they are too wide for shoulders and were constantly falling off. Leaving your shoulder in a vulnerable position.  Not to mention your back.

My friend Lauren made us some thinner ones which worked so much better (and matched his nursery too- bonus!).

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So taking her thin design and adding some flannel for some extra “stickiness” I have now perfected the burp cloth.  At least think so.  Now if I just find the time make some more of them…

Ready for the How-To?

Materials:

Printed Cotton Fabric (approximately 9x18- a fat quarter works well)

Flannel Fabric (double the size of the printed fabric)

Scissors or Rotary Cutter

Sewing Machine

Iron

How To:

1. Cut your fabric larger than the size you are thinking of making your burp cloth and pre-wash it to get the shrinking thing out of the way.

2. Cut your now shrunk printed fabric in a 9 in x 18 in rectangle.  This size can be varied, I cut the three burp clothes I made at slightly different widths depending on how much fabric I had.  This is not an exact science.burp cloth tutorial

3. Cut two flannel squares the exact same size you cut the printed fabric.

4. Line up your three squares right on top of each other with right sides together. (In the picture the three pieces are fanned out slightly so that you can see the order…when you sew make sure they are right on top of each other).burp cloth tutorial

5. Sew around the 4 edges, and stop before you reach where you started, leaving a three inch opening to flip it out.  I used a quarter inch seam.

burp cloth tutorial

6. Cut your corners of the sewn fabrics.  Be careful not to cut the seam. Press open the seams.

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7. Stick your hand in the opening and pull it right side out.  The second piece of flannel stays in the middle for extra urping absorbency.  Make sure to spend some time poking out the corners.burp cloth tutorial

8. Press well so it lays flat.  Make sure to press the flaps where the opening is in so that it matches the rest of the seams.burp cloth tutorial

9.  Edge stitch around the all 4 edges to finish it off and to complete the area with the opening.

burp cloth tutorial

10.  And you are done!  Super fast and easy.

burp cloth tutorial

One side is cute, the other side is sticky and the extra piece of flannel will help absorb the urping.  Not to mention it is skinny enough not to be sliding off your shoulder.

burp cloth tutorial

Tie it up with a bow and it also makes the perfect shower gift.

burp cloth tutorial

Happy Urping!

T-minus 4 days

Ummm…so where did December go?  Is Christmas really just a couple of days away(gulp)?

True to form I am way too busy with way too many sewing projects to give and the next couple of nights will involve long hours in the craft room.  But I wanted to pop in to say hi and with a quick tip on holiday wrapping. 

There are so many creative ideas on pinterest and on blogs for creative holiday wrapping.  Amazing stuff. Two Christmases ago each package at our house was carefully decorated with jingle bells, punch outs of holiday scrapbook paper etc. If you have that kind of time skip this post and start hitting up pinterest.

Last year I was in my first trimester and sick sick sick and we went the gift bags and tissue route.  At least I think that is what Derek pulled together.

This year with a 5 month old time is still very precious but I wanted our packages to look special.  My quick and easy solution?  Use satin non-wired ribbon and nice gift tags.

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This ribbon is not in the Christmas section of craft stores but in the normal ribbon section.  Which stinks when Christmas ribbon is 40% off but is nice that you could stock up year round (and when you have a coupon).

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Rocket science?  No.  But for the same amount of time and little more money I think it makes a big difference.  And if you are traveling, the bows won’t get smashed in transit.

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For the gift tags, I bought a bucket of them at Target for a couple of bucks.

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If you had an extra couple of minutes you also could print some off.  I love these from Brooklyn Limestone and used them on kids packages.  So far they are a big hit.IMG_6325

Now back to sewing…

Procrastination

Some things never change….another baby quilt with not the best pics because I finished it minutes before a friend’s baby shower. 

As in pacing in front of dryer worried that we were going to be late after setting a new personal best time for hand sewing the binding.

I have not learned and maybe never will.  But on the bright side I now have baby accessories to drape the quilt on.  Maybe that will help the incredibly quickly taken pictures.

new wave quilt

new wave quilt

I used the New Wave quilt pattern that I found on Oh Fransson.  Since they are not finding out the gender, I picked the yellow, orange and green color palette.  Did I mention that I love how it came out?

new wave quilt

And the back….which only looks transparent because of the whole standing in front of a window thing.

new wave quilt

This is the first time I attempted free motion quilting on my new machine and I am happy with how it came out even without my standby free motion partner of red wine.

 new wave quilt

To make the patterned fabric stand out even more, I just did random loops in the white border areas.

new wave quilt

I also loved how it made the pattern come through to the back.

new wave quilt

Hopefully the new baby will love it and maybe next time I will learn my lesson. 

I wouldn’t hold my breathe though.

Baby Windowpanes

The reason that I started to learn to quilt was because all my friends started to have babies and I wanted to make cute things for them.  This makes baby quilt #6 (with a couple more in progress of course since I can never finish something 100% without starting something new).

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And I still love making them…..

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This took just a charm pack of fun fabric and a solid color for the background. It pieced together very quickly and I love the windowpane look.

And the back in a cream soft flannel with a pinwheel….

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I think I am in love with that curvy stitch on my sewing machine…..

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I also made a light weight blanket with a fun boy animal print.

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This was super easy.  I just got a yard of fabric I loved and sliced it, turned different sections around, and inserted white.

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More snuggly flannel on the back.  This was the first time I attempted a machine sewn binding.  I have to say it was so much faster than a traditional hand sewn binding (like on the quilt) and I was so happy how the front looks.  But it was a little wonkier on the back than I would have liked.  Oh well I guess that just means more practice.  Hopefully Baby K won’t mind.

We had a great time at the shower and Sarah, the mom-to-be, looked so cute.  Sarah is actually the friend that convinced to start a blog and that people would actually read it (besides her and my mom). 154117_592771270129_66801178_33502088_2849917_n

So now you know where to direct your hate mail/fan mail to.

Hope Baby K loves his new quilt!

Drapery Cutting-The Quick and Easy Way

I had a really good weekend.  My former college roommate, Katie,  flew in for a visit and we had a great time.  We shopped.  We enjoyed tapas, sangria, red wine and stayed up past our bedtime.  We got pedicures and cooked together.  And of course talked and talked.  Which made me really wish we were not hundreds of miles and a plane ride away from each other.

And took absolutely no pictures.  Even after I made a point to say “We need need to take tons of pictures this weekend because we got 0 last time”

Just picture us having an amazing time.

We also had numerous “wow we are getting old” moments.  Maybe it is because 30 is in the not too distant future.  Or maybe it is because we have both recently have moved from the city to the ‘burbs.  Or maybe it is the glaring differences in how we used to hang out and how we spend our time together now. 

But the point of this post is not to bore everyone with reminiscing.  I really do have a point.

As part of being “old” we spent some time making drapery panels for Katie’s new house.  We spent a half of day picking out the fabric and got five new lined panels banged out in just a couple of hours.

Which led Derek to ask why it has taken me months to finish our panels in the kitchen.

Anyway……

She picked out three great fabrics for each panel…..a deep gray, and orange stripe and an orange and gray pattern.   Of course again no pictures, but I made her swear to email me some as soon as they are hung in her house.

Katie is a beginning sewer and has just completed a couple of pillows.  So when I showed her my trick for incredibly fast fabric cutting she was amazed it went so fast. 

And so was Derek….because again those dang  kitchen panels.

This tip is not going to be anything new to experienced sewers out there, but i wanted to share it with everyone that is just starting to make an easy drapery panel on their own.  Because I wish I knew this with my first panels.

Quick and Easy way to Measure and Cut Drapery Panels

1. Find a square flooring surface in you house.  This could be a tile or wood floor.  Or even a carpet beginning/ending point in a wide doorway.  Or even a wall if you don’t have anything else.

2. Figure out how long you want you drapery panels to be and measure it out from your beginning edge.  Mark that spot with a piece of tape.  Scoot a little bit down and repeat to make sure you tape line is even.

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3. Stretch out the fabric from your tape line to your original square line on the floor.  If you are on wood or tile, line up the fabric with a line in the floor to make sure you are straight.

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4. Cut right along the edge that you know is square.

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5. Repeat with the other panels.

And you should have them cut in just a couple of minutes and ready to sew.  Quick right?

Just ask Derek about the kitchen.

Potholder Demons

Once upon a time there was a demon that lived in my old sewing machine.

And because of this demon, I was not able to make decent potholders no matter how much seam ripping was involved.  And let’s just say the seam ripper has never got quite the workout that the potholders provided.

Which was really embarrassing…because come on they are potholders.  Just like a tiny quilt block.  So should not be hard or complicated.  But it was and my potholders sat in the growing unfinished project pile, a victim of the sewing machine demon.  For months….

Until now….

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Inspired by the new sewing machine, I was convinced that it had to be demons of the old one that were causing my failure.  Because it certainly could not have been my sewing skills.

Well it was a little of both.  The sewing machine helped immensely and at the Creative Connection, Kim and I took a class from Camille.  She gave me some pointers about what I was stupidly doing wrong.

Which I am not going to mention here because, well, they really were stupid mistakes.  Just trust me about that.  And learn from me…if something is repeatedly not working correctly, ask someone for help before ditching it in the unfinished projects stack.  Because after Minnesota, I came home with these….

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So now that the potholder demon is gone, I can move on to other projects.  Like sewing large numbers of really boring drapes.  Or start the Christmas presents I swore last year while I was binding a quilt at 2am on December 24rd that I would begin in July.

Or I could always start on something more fun.  Like this……

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I know what I am thinking…..

The Creative Connection

Take two people who have never met in real life and put them in a car together for 10 hours and then make them share a hotel room and three days together.  How do you think that will turn out?

Well some of my co-workers were worried but fortunately for me…..fabulous.

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Kim at NewlyWoodwards emailed me last spring after she had won tickets to the Creative Connection in Minneapolis and wondered if I wanted join in the fun.  Sure, we had not met in real life but had emailed and commented frequently on each other’s blogs and thought we would get along great.  Right?  So after phone conversations to make sure each other were not 50 –year-old men we signed up for classes.

We took fun classes like quilting with Camille Roskelley….

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Creative Connection 2010

Creative Connection 2010 

And felting with Betz White……

Creative Connection 2010

Creative Connection 2010

And met of tons of fun creative people…..

Did I mention that the Pioneer Woman was there?

Creative Connection 2010

Everyone was a little excited.  And in our excitement, Kim and I were one of the first in line for the luncheon (insert joke here).  So we got really great seats to hear her speak. 

In our beeline to the front, we somehow found ourselves at the famous person table.  So while the Pioneer Woman was speaking, this was our view.

Creative Connection 2010

Don’t worry we tried to played it cool.

And then Ree and I enjoyed wine together.  Note to self: slip off the nametag next time.

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All the meals at the event were so well decorated and creative.  Amy Butler and Mary Jane Butters spoke at dinner and I would share those pics but the lighting was really tough and they are blurry.  AKA I have a lot to learn about photography.

At dinner this giant burlap bag of amazing goodies was at our chairs.  Paint, fabric, glue, modpodge, jewelry etc. provided Kim and I an hour of ohhing and ahhing at the hotel.

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But our fun did not end at the event itself.  We also enjoyed a little shopping of course.

Kim scored some great finds for her new old house at an salvage/antique shop.

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And then we went to a place that I had been dreaming about since I knew I was going to be in Minneapolis.  A place that most of you will not understand my excitement about because you do not live 8 hours away from one with their very limited online shopping.

IKEA.

We met up with some other fun bloggers (Cindy, Allison, Suzanne and Allison) and had a great time together on my maiden IKEA trip.  I think my text messages to my husband were anxiety provoking to him in terms of the bank account that night.

“this just might be the promised land”

“i am thinking about a road trip to denver/austin/chicago/minneapolis with a large car could be fun”

“now we are off to the mall of america”

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I will save my purchases for another post, but let’s just say Kim’s car looked like this on our way back to Des Moines.

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I am happy to report that Kim and I were still chatting away when we pulled up at my car 5 hours later.  We had an amazing time together and I can’t wait to meet up again.

Maybe denver/austin/chicago/minneapolis ?

Going Back In

Last weekend I realized just how long it has been since we have done an “inside” project.  We had been so busy with outside stuff and Europe prep that the inside has been ignored as of late.

And since I always get some project inspiration with a little wine, some good music and Derek not home to talk me into being more practical and having a plan (hence how the kitchen reno started), the office is now getting a mini-makeover.  Nothing drastic but just a couple of little things that have been bugging me about the space lately.  I am still in the going to Homegoods, returning to Homegoods and buying more at Homegoods stage but I wanted to share a sneak peek at one of the projects that is actually done in the space.

We try to make the decor in our home as personal as possible without going overboard with pictures of the two of us cheesing it up for the camera.  Coming back from Italy, I have been resisting the urge to plaster photos of the trip all over the place, while still putting memorable items on display.  Not so easy.

I saw an idea of displaying travel maps over from Alissa over at 33 Shades of Green awhile ago and loved how it was personal but pretty at the same time.  So I made sure to save all the maps we used during the trip. 

After I had dumped everything off the bookshelves in the office on that Saturday night, I decided to add some frames to the top.  So I messed around with frames I had in various colors and sizes until I found an arrangement I liked.

They were on the smaller side, but I sort of liked just including special sections of the map instead of the entire thing. Also I wanted to change it up in terms of colors on the maps and how they were positioned with mats in the frame.

So I pulled out the maps we used for sightseeing and went to work measuring and cutting with this in mind.

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Since I wanted the maps to “mean something” I got the location of our apartment and some major sights included the sections of Rome and Florence I cut out.  To change it up a little bit, I used a more zoomed out map for Siena…..to commemorate our memorable bus ride of course.   The maps are creased and written on (and probably quite sweaty) but that makes me like them even more.

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IMG_2721And now every time I look in the corner now I can remember Italy and where exactly we stayed.  And the bus ride.  And of course the running joke of why I never carried the maps or navigated the entire trip.  Let’s just say my sense of direction was left back in the States.  If I was in charge of this task we would have ended up back in Germany. 

Memories:).

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The Latest

With the majority of my time spent in the garden recently, the craft room and sewing machine has not been getting a lot of love.  But I did manage to whip up another small baby quilt.

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The pattern is  Charm Squares Baby Quilt that I found on Sew Mama Sew.  It was super quick and easy and I had the top pieced in an hour or two.  Which for me is super fast as I am still really slow and like to admire each piece of fabric before moving on.  And it did not take much fabric.  Just a charm pack and 5/8 yard of other fabric and you have the top pieced.. 

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When I chose the fabric, they did not know if they were going to be the lucky parents of a boy or girl and I thought Authentic was the perfect choice.  It had a little more pink in it than I originally pictures, but it worked out OK because they will be welcoming a baby girl.  Luck over skill.

I backed it with cream flannel to add a little snuggle for the baby.

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I also whipped out some burp clothes.  Another super quick and easy project that does not take too much fabric.  Just a little patience with ironing and measuring to get everything lined up right.  And so much cuter than just a plain cloth diaper to throw over your shoulder.

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My next quilting project will be a first for me….a quilt I am actually planning on keeping.  Since I made the resolution that we would use the picnic basket this year, I determined that we needed a picnic quilt.  My goal was to make it super easy so that it would come together quickly so we could use it before it got too sweltering.  Good news: the quilt top is really close to being complete.  The bad news is that I missed the sweltering deadline.  Oh well.  We can still picnic in the heat.  Can’t wait to share that quilt (in conjunction with our picnic of course).

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Project Plume

It is official….without a deadline I am no good at actually completing a quilt. 

Case in point- in all the posts that I talk about a completed quilt I always mention that I wanted better pictures but because of _____ I had to hurry and get it done and therefore all my pictures stink. 

And the fact that I have two half done quilts hanging in the craft room that may never see the light of this blog because they do not have a deadline. 

No surprise that my newest quilt was not any different in the “completing at the last possible moment” category.

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But the good/bad news for everyone else is that I have no one to give it to as of right now…so I had a lot more time to take pictures.

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If it was not a gift, what was the deadline?

So glad you asked.

I have mentioned the Kansas City Modern Quilting Guild before….but I have forgotten to mention that we are already on our fourth meeting and we have had over 70 people attend the last three and we have already outgrown our original space and Tula Pink is a member of our guild. (she is a fabric designer for you non-quilt people out there).  She and Moda were kind enough to donate 35 charm packs of her latest line Plume to our guild with the following challenge- Make a quilt with just the charm pack and 1/2 yard of any other single fabric of your choosing.  Backing and binding were up to us.  That is not a lot of fabric ……but hence the word “challenge.”

I spent a lot of time thinking about all the creative things I could do with my fabric.  And I had a lot of great ideas.  At least I thought so. 

But I was realistic about my beginning quilting skills and limited time.  And in the end came up with this which I think will make a cute baby girl blanket-

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And here is what everyone else came up with (thanks to Shea for the pictures).  Obviously not everyone is a beginner like me because there were some amazing quilts on the Project Plume stage.  And obviously I need to get some blond highlights for spring.

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On another quilty note….April is National Quilt month.  And because of this Sew, Mama, Sew is hosting tons of how-tos on their blog (like here).  If would like to get you feet wet with quilting, this would be a perfect place to start.  Our president, Jacquie, has done a lot of the tutorials featured there and I have learned so much just from reading them. So go check it out!

And finally…on my quest for a spring picnic I just had to purchase this-

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I thought it just screamed picnic and I am planning on making an incredibly simple picnicing quilt (maybe backed with a laminated cotton??). 

But maybe I need to put a picnic on the calendar so there is a deadline….

Spring Break!

Even though my flight was delayed three hours, I was 10 seconds from being embarrassingly airsick and it rained the entire time, my Spring Break Trip to D.C. to visit my college roomie was spectacular because…..

IMG_0719Isn’t she the cutest baby ever? 

Just in case you can’t decide here is some more pics…IMG_0667(1)

And with her beautiful mommy…IMG_0724

In case you still can’t decide…email me.  I have over 100 more pictures to make my case.  I was so busy snapping pics of baby that I somehow missed getting a picture of Katie and I.  Ouch.

I also brought with me her first birthday present, a new fun quilt.IMG_0676(1)

This was by far the most difficult pattern I have attempted thus far.  And I am happy with the results, but it is not perfect.  I titled it appropriately “Learning Experience.”

I used the free Off the Grid  pattern on Moda Bake Shop with Hunky Dory Fabrics by Chez Moi.  I thought the fun prints and colors were perfect for a little girl.

And the back-

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And the best pictures of a quilt…being loved by a baby-IMG_0664

Oh the leggings…IMG_0670

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And let me share this insanely creative idea for making incredibly cute big blocks inexpensively for babys that Katie came up with.  Use shoeboxes and cover them with scrapbook/wrapping paper and clear packing tape. Genius!

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I am not up on my baby crafts, but I thought that was so creative and thrifty.  She was always the crafty one of the two of us.

Of course we did some home decor and fabric shopping during the visit.  I gave Katie her first sewing lesson….and let’s just say we chose a project that was a little tough for her teeny tiny sewing machine.  I was forbidden from taking pics of this and hopefully we can try again next time

Derek is happy to report that since I had to get back on a plane I was not able to buy anything of substance on our escapades.  But Katie scored this amazing mid century modern screen that she plans on using as a headboard from a store called Modernicus.  And it was only $125.  If you are in the DC area and love authentic mid century modern pieces, you will love this store. 

And they helped us wrestle into her Camry in the rain….double score.

And now for your parting gift….IMG_0773

Yum!

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All Around the Color Wheel

The procrastinator in me is alive and well.  This is quilt number three and although I swore to myself that I would get it completed and photographed waaay in advance, I ended up sprinting home 10 minutes before the baby shower began in order to snap some pictures while I had good light and then quickly throw it in a gift bag with some tissue…..similar to the last two quilts.  Sigh.  So that is my excuse of why all my quilt pics are not dynamite and I am sticking to it.  I worry that if I ever get around to making a quilt for myself that it will never get completed because obviously the only thing that motivates me is deadlines.

Anyway this quilt was super easy to put together but for a simple baby quilt I am happy with how it turned out. IMG_0622

And for the quilting I did random semi-straight lines-IMG_0623

And used cozy blue flannel for the back to make it a little more “boyish”-IMG_0624

If you like me and new to quilting and sewing this is a great project.  All you need is a Kona Solids bright palette charm pack and white fabric cut in 2.5 inch strips.  If you are really adverse to cutting fabric you also could buy a white fabric jelly roll.  I really love how the colors fade into each other around the color wheel, but think it would also look nice all mixed up.IMG_0631

Moving onto black and white, I also wanted to share my incredibly impractical fabric purchase today.   This way everyone can agree that I need to get my head examined.IMG_0633

Why is black and white impractical?  Especially in the hip chevron?  Because this is the fabric I selected for dog beds in the master bedroom.  The white is perfect to show every single muddy pawprint and the black is calling for dog hair to just stick to it.  But I told myself that really it was a good thing that they will look dirty so quickly…that way I will be forced to wash it everyday more frequently.   So really I am just adding a incentive for keeping things cleaner….at least that is what I told myself at the fabric store.  I can rationalize anything.

Anyway I think that the pattern will look great in the slowly coming together master bedroom.  I might even let the pups lay on them. …if they wipe their paws of course.

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Cold Feet

Have I mentioned that I am just a little bit tired of winter?  

I guess I have.

But one thing that I did not go into in my past grumbling is that my hands and feet are always icicles during the winter months.  No matter how many slippers and thick socks I wear my feet are frigid.  Until now, the only thing that worked was every evening filling up the bathtub part way with hot water and dunking them.  Just a little time consuming.  Or sticking them on my husbands bare leg while we are laying in bed.  More fun ? Yes, but I bet you can guess how happy he is when I do that.

Then I heard one of my parent’s friends mention that they have like a beanbag filled with rice that they heat up and it keeps their toes cozy all night.  My mom was very intrigued (cold feet are genetic I guess) and I thought it was brilliant.  I had all these visions in my head about how I would construct it and then make an awesome tutorial to share here.  And then everyone else would be so excited that I put this new idea together in a cute fabric sort of way.

Then I googled it.

Definitely not the first person to think about this or put together a tutorial.  Rats.  Guess I have been living under a rock.

But I am happy to report that if you can sew a straight line you can put one together super quick.  Really.  No major skills required.  I put mine together in less than 10 minutes start to finish. 

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Basically all you need is a cute fabric scrap, lining fabric, some rice, some Velcro and possibly some scented oil if you want it to smell nice.  I used stuff that I had laying around except for the orange scent I found in the soap making aisle at a craft store.

Since there are so many great tutorials out there I am not going to add another one, but this one at Sew, Mama, Sew! Blog was what I used for inspiration.

In a nutshell, sew together your lining fabric on three sides, fill it with scented rice (I used about ten drops of oil) and then sew it closed.

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Then make a slightly larger pillowcase for your rice with velcro on the end.

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Smush it closed and now you have a pretty little foot warmer.

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I have found warming mine in the microwave for about 2 minutes does the trick.  I also read that some people suggest to also put a cup of water in the microwave while you are warming it to make sure your rice does not scorch.  Not sure if this is true or not but I thought it was better to play it safe because while I have never smelled burned rice, I do not imagine it to be very pleasant.

Also a hint that I learned…there is a reason that it has a removable cover.  When you set it in the microwave, make sure you take off the pretty fabric so it doesn’t get all gross sitting in there.  Or maybe that it just me and it is a sign that our microwave needs to be cleaned.  Lesson Learned.

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This might be the best winter invention yet.  It is keeping my toes toasty warm as I speak type.  And it has been going strong for over an hour.  And as a bonus, the fabric matches some of the pillows in the family room so it does not look out of place.  It can just be a mini pillow. So if you are like me and  never heard of such of thing you really need to try it out. 

I know Derek’s legs are appreciating it at least.

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Modern Quilts

I used to think that this was an oxymoron.  How could quilts be modern?  I admired the amount of talent and workmanship that went into them but they were honestly not my style.

Then I discovered modern quilting blogs.  And the fabric.  And the talent.  And then I was hooked.

I had no idea how to make one but I knew that I had to teach myself.  So with the help of the aforementioned blogs and a couple of quilting books I muddled my way through my first two.

You might have noticed some quilts popping into mainstream stores such as Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel.  I did at least.
 



So exactly is Modern Quilting?  Well...... that is a really good question with many answers.   I personally think it has a lot to do with fabric choice, the colors and the composition in terms of design of the quilt.    But to sum it up....I know it when I see it.  And what looks modern to me might look very traditional to someone else and vice versa.

There is movement of Modern Quilting Guilds that are forming across the country which is super exciting.
If you go to the main Modern Quilting Guild website, there is discussion about what modern quilting is to different people as well as links to local quilt guilds that are starting in cities around the country (and the world).

Guess whose city was starting a chapter? 

Kansas City.

So I went to the very first meeting.  Along with a lot of other people.  And I definitely was not the youngest person there.  I was really worried that since I was such a newbie that I would be in way over my head with all the experienced quilters.  But I am happy to report for all the newbies out there that this was something that I should not have worried about.  There were people there from all levels and everyone was super nice.

I had a lot of fun meeting people with similar interests and gaining inspiration from their creations.  I also picked picked up a lot of great tips.

We have another meeting scheduled this month and I cannot wait.   Check out our website (here) to see all the creations of the members as well as their blogs.  And even to join if you are interested.

I have a couple new quilts that I am starting soon that I cannot wait to share with the blogosphere as well as all the members of the new quilt guild.  So I had better get moving.
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Ruffle Scarf Tutorial

Thanks for all the positive comments on the ruffle scarves (previous post here)! I am so glad everyone likes them. This tutorial has been half done all week but with all the other Christmas stuff to do like addressing cards, baking and other sewing it took me a little longer than expected. December needs another week to get everything done. I think one of my New Years resolutions will to begin handmade Christmas presents in July to reduce some stress in December. But we will see if I actually stick to it.

Anyways enough complaining.... onto the tutorial.....

First, to give credit, I was originally inspired to make ruffle scarves and learned this technique at Burda Style (here). I have varied the directions for my personal tastes and added some techniques that worked for me. But....I am not a professional. I am a self taught sewer (sewist? not even sure of the correct word) and I am sure things I describe and picture would make the professionals cringe. But they work for me and I love to share them!

I tried to make this tutorial as detailed as possible (hence the length). However, some things are difficult to describe in words and pictures and I just did my best. Maybe next time I need a video tutorial...hmmmm....

There are many variations of the ruffle scarf and of the 5 hanging in the craft room currently all are slightly different. So this main tutorial will show you the technique which you can apply in many different ways (some of which I will show at the end).

Without further ado...Here is how to make a long double layered scarf-

Materials:

Knit fabric (1 yard for this variation of the scarf)
Cutting mat
Rotary cutter (or scissors)
Thread (matching and non-matching)
Hand Sewing Needle
Sewing Machine
Straight Pins
Seam Ripper

How-To


1. Cut the fabric. The fabric I bought was 60 inches wide and I cut it running that way so I had 60 inch long strips that I would sew together to make longer strips. For this particular scarf I cut three strips 5 in wide and three strips 7 inches wide. (So 3- 5"x60" and 3- 7"x60")

Here is two of each size strip ready for the next step-

2. Thread a hand sewing needle with a piece of thread doubled that is about 60 in long. Use a color that is totally opposite of the color of the fabric. Tie a large knot in the end and sew a long basting stich down the middle of each strip.
It obviously does not have to be straight or even. Be careful not to get the long thread all knotted up. This happened to me many times when I was not being careful and it was incredibly frustrating to spend 10 minutes trying to untangle a knot and eventually having to cut it out and start over.

Use a long needle so that you can sew faster like this-
Sew to the end of the strip. If your thread is a little too short, don't worry.....just bunch up the fabric at the end.

3. Hold the end of the thread and push the fabric back to ruffle it. (pretend my 2nd hand is holding the white thread. It is impossible to take a picture by yourself with both your hands in it....believe me I tried)
Scrunch it ALL the way up (look at the top one)-

4. Pull the end with the unknotted thread back out to the desired length (like the top strip in the picture).

Typically for the "desired length" I shoot for half the length of the entire strip but you can modify that depending on how you want your ruffles to look. I measure the first strip as I am doing this step and then match the rest to the first one.

5. Keeping that length, spread the ruffles evenly along the length of the strip.

Don't worry about the ruffles being perfectly even. They will shift slightly through the next steps and besides the irregularity is what gives this scarf it's character...at least that is what I tell myself.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 with all of the strips. Cut the thread and knot it on all the strips to secure the length.

7. Sew with a straight stitch on the sewing machine the ends of two 5" strips together to make one long strip. Sew the other 5" strip end to that long strip to make an even longer strip. Repeat the same process with the 7" strips so that you now have two long strips.

In order to sew the ends together, it helps to move the ruffles just slightly away from the end and flatten it out. After it is sewn, you can move the ruffles back. Make sure the scarf does not get twisted during this step so you can keep all your seams on the same underside (been there and done that).

8. Now it is time for the most difficult part in my opinion.....securing the ruffle with the sewing machine. Since you are working with knits, put a ball point needle in your machine. You will basically be sewing over the basting stitch with a sewing machine straight stitch (using a thread matching the color of the scarf) to secure the ruffles.

Start at one end of the scarf, backstitch, and the stitch all the way to the other end.

So what is tricky about that? Well, feeding the ruffles evenly and making sure that when they are stitched that the sewing machine does not flatten them out is the trick. I tried many techniques (and ripped many seams) trying to figure out the best way to do this and I think I finally got it. This may not work for you or your machine, but it is what worked for me.

First, go slowly. The ruffles will shift with the movement into the machine and the scarf through it, so you will need to constantly readjust them slightly. As the material is going through the machine, hold BOTH sides of the ruffles down with your hands like this-
Press down firmly (can you see my hand muscles bulging?) and guide the section through the machine without moving your hands until the section that your hands is touching is through. Release your foot from the foot pedal to stop the needle, reposition the ruffles in the next section and reposition your hands to do it again.

Again, this is the technique that I found that worked the best. I also tried not lowering the presser foot on the machine because it was unbunching the ruffles. This failed miserably because the material was not feeding through. So I learned that I needed the presser foot to be down.

9. Repeat with the other scarf length.

10. OK now the difficult part is over. Take the seam ripper and get rid of the basting thread. This is why you should use an opposite color....so that you can tell which is which.
11. Lay both lengths of scarves on a large surface to see if they are still a similar length after securing the ruffles. They will probably be a little off, but that is OK.
12. Set up the 5" scarf on top of the 7" scarf and center along the seam line. If the lengths are a little off, center it so that you are off equally on both sides. Pin the narrower scarf to the wider scarf at the seam line all down the length of the scarf.


13. Sew the two scarves together along the seam line. Because the ruffles are already secured this is so much easier and requires no special technique. Just make sure the bottom ruffle end does not get folded in and sewn into the seam.

14. Use a scissors to round off the square ends if you wish. In this pic all the ends were rounded except the top left so that you could see the difference.
Align Left
Ta-Da! A thick, double-layered ruffle scarf.

Not so hard huh? The one thing I might do differently next time with this scarf is use 2 60" lengths for each layer instead of 3. I wanted a long scarf so I went with three and it turned out a little too long.

Now for some easy variations-

1. Just don't sew the layers together....just make a single layer and wear it alone-
Less fabric and less time but still tons of style (but unfortunately you still have to complete the most difficult step.)

2. Do a single layer but have two ruffle seams running through it. So your hand-sewn stitch would look like this-
Using the same techniques described in the tutorial the finished product will look like this (only in green instead of purple)-
The green fabric finished product is ten inches wide but you also play with the width. This scarf is flatter than the double layer one because it is only one layer of ruffles.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and it inspired you to make your own ruffle scarves. Comment or email me with questions or pics of finished products....I would love to see and feature them.


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Handmade Holidays

When I first joined up with The NewlyWoods Blog Party I thought that this week of Dare To....Give Homemade Gifts would be motivation to finish all the handmade gifts I was planning for the holidays.
Dare to DIY

You know a little motivation not to procrastinate. My goal this year was to give almost everyone something handmade even if it was small. However, even though I have been spending huge amounts of time in the craft room there are still some works in progress.

I could not pick a favorite one to post ....so stay tuned for a picture heavy post.

I am so also hoping that by posting lots of the things that family and friends that read the blog will not put together what they could be possibly getting. I am not aware of the recipients of any of the following gifts are readers. But just in case.....if you normally receive a gift from us-stop reading now.

Let's start with things that are completed.....the scarf parade. (Do you know how difficult it is to get a decent picture of a scarf.....especially since every picture with me in it made me cringe)

These are the two I "knitted"-


The pink one used furry thread that I picked up this summer on clearance at Hobby Lobby. Since I was not successful with teaching myself to knit using needles like a normal person, I use a loom like this-
It is so easy and there are so many variations that I want to try now that I have the basics mastered. You can pick up the loom at any craft store.

Onto to the parade of ruffle scarves. I love ruffles and I am seeing them everywhere in stores right now so of course I began to scour the internet for how to make them.

Currently there are three scarves completed with slight variations and in the coming days I have ideas for more variations. One thing they all have in common- they are all knit fabric (because you can cut the fabric and not worry about it fraying). They also are were super-cheap to make.

Ruffle Scarf #1-
This was by far the most time efficient and easiest (20 minutes from start to finish) of the bunch. I ruffled this one using elastic thread like detailed at Hope Studios.

Mine is not ruffled as much as theirs because of the type of bobbin my machine has self-corrects the tension. I messed with tension controls for a long time before figuring out that this was the best I was going to get.
Check out the tutorial over there because the ruffles are as easy as sewing a straight line.

Here is what the back side looks like with the elastic thread (I wanted to have all black obviously but I ran out since I used most of the spool experimenting....the future ones will have all black thread.)

Here is a blurry pic of me modeling the look (I swear it's difficult to hold a camera with one hand)
Ruffled Scarf #2-
This one took a little longer than the first but I love the more dramatic ruffles.....stay tuned for a tutorial because it was easy (and no I do not have ruffler foot for my sewing machine...I wish)

Ruffle Scarf #3-
While it looks similar to #2, it is very different. It is actually two ruffles sewn together which makes it very full, but it is not cut as wide. I made this one based on a pattern on Burda Style here.

Switching gears from scarves to a baby item- burp clothes-
Basically they are a cloth diaper edged with a piece of pretty fabric. They are simple to make but I love how they turned out. The only tricky part is making sure your seams are straight on the front and the back side.

OK let's take a break from sewing to move onto food gifts. This summer we had tons of jalapenos from our garden that no amount of Mexican nights was going to use. So I made Jalapeno Jelly (like described here). Since they are such a Christmasey color and we have tons of it we thought they would make an awesome gift.


I am not a huge paper crafter but I downloaded these tags from Martha (here). They are supposed to be for candles but they do dual duty. Then I used my lone circle punch and some red cardstock for the second circle. A little ribbon, hot glue and a gift card and these boys are ready to be enjoyed.


Okay now for the works in progress- the quilts.

I am not a quilter and have never 100% completed one. But I love reading blogs about modern quilting for inspiration and think I can do some simple ones.....eventually that it is. The first thing I learned about quilting is that it takes a very long time. I also learned that your cutting and sewing have to be exact otherwise you will have wonky lines. Let's just say the seam ripper and I have become fast friends as I am trying this for the first time.

So here is the first work in progress....a baby quilt that the colors were inspired by a fabric remnant for a couple of bucks and the design was inspired by subway tile. The quilt does not scream "baby" but this style totally fits with mom's and I hope they love it.
This quilt is basted and is just waiting for me to finish quilting it and then bind it.

The front-
The back-
Now for Christmas quilt #1-
Yeah the top is complete and that is about it. But I love how it turned out and I love all the fabric in it-


What about Christmas quilt #2? Well I would show you pics but right now it is just cut fabric (same as Christmas quilt #1) not sewn together.

I told you I have a lot of work to do. Maybe I need to stop blogging and start sewing.

I am also linking up with-

The DIY Show Off


DIY Day @ ASPTL


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