Monday, November 30, 2015

Tree skirt

In my never ending quest to turn all things aqua, I have finished up a new tree skirt for our Christmas tree!
I used this fantastic pattern,  which my friend Melissa, from My Fabric Relish offers for FREE in her Craftsy shop. It just so happened that the day I was searching for a pattern (perfectly willing to pay!) Melissa posted a  link to hers on her instagram account. Fate? Maybe so!

In my usual fashion, I followed the instructions loosely! Ha! I will tell you, I do not have a dresden ruler, but Melissa's instructions for measuring and cutting the wedges are PERFECT! My friend Sandy quilted it for me (I briefly considered just stitching in the ditch but when Sandy said she had time to do an overall motif on it for me I was thrilled!). Most of the changes I made were in the way I did my binding and the fact that I only included one tie in the back...

So now my aqua and red tree is fully dressed and I'm so happy! Last year I pulled the ornaments together but time ran out on me and I bunched some sparkly stuff up underneath as a poor excuse for a tree skirt. This is so much nicer, don't you think?

Are you decorating for the holidays yet?

Thursday, November 26, 2015


My close friends all know that I'm a huge fan of gratitude. I preach thankfulness whenever possible and try to live my life to reflect how very thankful I am. Gratitude comes easily for me, in good times and in bad, thanking God for all of my blessings makes my life so sweet. Every day I am thankful for a husband who loves me, supports my crazy ideas, washes the dishes and is one of the finest human beings to walk the earth. And the three fabulous, ambitious, energetic, curious, intelligent children he & I made together! This year I am especially thankful for a God who heals, for doctors who restored so many in our family to good health. For my mom & dad who have shown us what true love looks like. For family and friends near and far.

I'm thankful for Crafty Tuesday, the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild & all of the wonderful, creative people who feed my soul. And for you... for going along with me on this wonderful, creative journey. May you and your family be especially blessed this Thanksgiving day.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Intrepid thread challenge

In September I signed up for a fabric challenge over at Intrepid Thread. By the time the fabric came I had forgotten all about it! Ha. The fabric sat on my table for quite a long time waiting for me to be inspired. Suddenly, yesterday, I knew what I wanted to do! 
I worked all day and this little pillow came to life! I made a patchwork background from the mini charm pack we received, then used the other 2 fabrics to appliqué some orange peels. I had cut enough orange peels to do every square, but when I started to edit, and remove some, I liked it better! Sometimes less is more. 

I had enough cotton and steel fabric to do the back, with a little binding of the arrow fabric and a touch of ricrac peeking out, because, RICRAC! duh!
I wasn't sure where I'd put it, I mean, aqua goes ANYWHERE, right? But the pink was throwing me off. Then I put it on the living room chair for a photo op and it looked so awesome there with my Spice of Life afghan! So, I do believe that's where it will stay. For now....
Perfect spot to curl up with a good book I think!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A blouse for me (or not)

A while ago, I picked up Simplicity pattern 1013 . I had seen it on Instagram and really liked the different options in the pattern. This past week, I made one up, using a lightweight denim and a DS cotton print from Joanns.  I changed a couple of things, like leaving off the sleeve cuffs and adding french seams to prevent major denim fraying! It came out so cute!

and back
I love the way the back contrasts & dips down, so cute with leggings or straight jeans! Could be worn as a jacket over a tank or t-shirt or buttoned up as a blouse. There was only one problem.

Even though I made the top according to my measurements, it's too small. Boo. So I'll be passing it along to a friend. Maybe I'll make another in a larger size, as I really do like the look! So if you decide to try out this pattern, I suggest you really evaluate the sizing carefully.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Christmas circle quilt

About a month ago, my pal Mahriam over at Three Owls Handmade finished up her "tiny scrappy circle mini quilt" and I absolutely fell in love with it! In fact, I tried to steal it when she brought it to our last Crafty Tuesday gathering but she didn't fall for it. darn. So, I set out to make my own. And, because I never do anything according to the directions, I made a few revisions. First off, my circles are a tad bigger than hers (about 1 1/4" diameter). I traced the circles onto heat & bond lite, fused them onto my fabrics and then cut them out....
that aqua snowman makes me giggle. 
I cut 144 in total. Also, I decided to make mine a Christmas circle quilt. I selected all fabrics in reds, greens & aquas (I later added in some gray). Many of the fabrics are holiday fabrics, others are just fun fabrics that fit in with the colors I wanted.
I had a light gray solid on hand and I liked the way it looked as a background. I squared it up and pressed it well. Then I began laying out and fusing my circles. I used a ruler to keep them straight(ish).  I laid them out in a 12 x12 grid and fused them well. I must confess, a few began to lift away from the fabric when I started to quilt. I did go back and glue some of them down with fabric glue. Most of the circles did fuse and stay well attached.

Mahriams circles were tinier than mine. Also she had way more of them than I do! But I am quite happy with my layout...
Goldilocks is making an appearance in all of my projects lately!
I began quilting in a organic (that's code for "not perfectly straight and I don't care") grid with light gray thread. Bound it up with a gray herringbone print and I love it! Is it too early to begin hanging Christmas decor? Because this baby is going on the wall very soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

bee blocks

This was my month to receive bee blocks from our Sew Bee It bee in the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild. I chose the Flower Box Quilt Block made with this tutorial by Lori Holt at Bee in my Bonnet. I gave everyone the gray for the center and a suggested color pallette of aquas, reds & greens (shocker! I know.) These are the blocks I received last Tuesday....
I still have a few more blocks to collect and I think I will make some more to add to them. Aren't they fun?

Speaking of fun, this month is Chris's turn. She has requested Mondrian inspired improv blocks. When I read this, I had to immediately google Mondrian as I didn't have a clue! Upon seeing Mondrian's awesome work, I immediately grabbed my graph paper and pencils and started recreating some of his work on paper. Ummmm, Ellyn? Chris clearly said IMPROV! oh boy. This was going to be harder than I thought!

I set my sketches aside, grabbed the fabric Chris had provided and set to work. And guess what? It was more fun than I expected! Before I knew it, I had 2 blocks done & ready to pass on to Chris at our December meeting.
I love being challenged. And this, well it certainly qualifies as a challenge! I can't wait to see what my bee mates come up with and how Chris puts this all together!

Monday, November 9, 2015

sewing room swap received

I want to share the wonderful goodies I received in Stitched With Love's sewing room swap on Friday. Lisa made me this awesome scrap catcher/pin cushion to keep near my machine. The fabrics & colors are so perfect in my space. She even embroidered my name on the front! It's wonderful.
Look at the awesome spot to keep my scissors handy. Genius! The scissors were included in my goodies from Lisa....
In fact she included lots of goodies..... rainbow binder clips, a seam ripper, post its, handmade labels, glass head pins and these adorable decorative pins...
And this fantastic scrabble tile/ quilt block necklace. she didn't even know that I'm a big scrabble fan as well as a quilter!
Thank you for all of the wonderful treats Lisa! They're perfect!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sewing room swap

I love participating in the swaps at Stitched With Love! This week was our second swap and so far the people I've been given to sew for have been people I know a little bit, but not a lot & it's so much fun to learn more about them! This time we made items for each other's sewing space. I got to sew for Dusty, a young woman who is in our Modern Quilt Guild.
all of the goodies I made for Dusty
Dusty has very different taste in fabric from me which was so much fun for me. She said that her sewing space is small, that she preferred functional items over decorative and that the colors were primarily purple and black. Also, she indicated a liking for sugar skull fabric (among other things!) That was all I needed to be off and running!

I made her a simple sewing machine cover with ties on the sides and a fabric basket to hold all of her goodies (and maybe to keep fat quarters or small patterns in later on?)
Lee Monroe's little pin cushions were popping up all over instagram so I decided to make one of those too. I love the little pockets on the sides! It's an awesome free pattern, one I know I'll be making again and again!

I have had a Simplicity pattern for this little mug apron for years and never made it before. My friend Annie made me one years ago and it's the single most useful thing in my studio, I kid you not! So many little pockets to keep things right where they belong. It was a fun and easy make. I hope Dusty finds it useful too!

I hope she will think of this last item as functional rather than decorative! I purchased this little chalkboard at the craft store, added the scrabble letters and purple ribbon and included a chalk marker in her goodies. I love keeping my to do list visible on a chalkboard in my studio.

I can't wait to share with you what I received in the swap!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Birthday bag for a friend

My blogging friend Maria and I have been exchanging crafty birthday gifts for several years. The last couple of years, we've chosen a theme. This year we decided to make each other tote bags. Way back in February she sent me a wonderful embroidered bag. Well this week it was Maria's birthday! And now that she's opened up her gift, I can finally share what I sent off to Australia several weeks ago.

I'm not sure if this is the back or the front of the bag! Ha! I used the Tahiti Tote pattern, which I've made before and just love. I decided to take part of a Row by Row pattern that I had picked up this summer and make a big splash on the plain side of the bag. Maria loves to go to the beach with her friends to take a swim & I thought this would be a great summer bag for her. 

One thing I love about this pattern is the awesome pocket on the front. It's a combination slip pocket & zipper pocket, the perfect spot for a cell phone and keys.

This bag zips closed on the top too, so nothing can fall out. 

Happy Birthday Maria! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

EPP Pentagon balls

Last night at the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild meeting,  we shared demos for quick & easy gift ideas for the holidays. I was happy to share the English Paper Pieced Pentagon Balls that I've been making. There are tons of great tutorials online for these, including this one which was the one I learned from. Abby, at While She Naps, has links for materials that I used & a great photo tutorial. But since I promised the gals at guild a tutorial too, here's my version!

First up, you are going to need 1 inch Pentagon (that's right! Not HEXAGONS like usual, but five sided pentagon) papers. You can print these online and cut your own (which is what I did initially) but Lynn over at Stitched With Love has ordered them to carry in the shop! Who wants to spend her time cutting silly pieces of paper when she can be stitching away instead. Yay Lynn! We love you!

Prep 12 pentagons your favorite way (I'm a glue baster. to each her own!) This is an awesome project to use up little scraps! I had fun fussy cutting and color coordinating scraps for each of my balls. Lay your 12 pentagons out like this....

now you stitch the bottoms of the pentagons in the rings to the center pentagon like this...
And then stitch up the sides like this, creating 2 cup shapes (easiest if you remove the paper from the center pentagon first)....
Easy squeazy, right? The next part is a little fussy but you can do it! Flip one of your pentagon cups upside down on top of the other and stitch the two together around the edges. Take it one edge at a time and remove the papers as you go, as soon as they have been surrounded by stitches....
Stop when you still have two edges left unstitched....
remove the last few papers, then carefully turn your ball right side out.

Now comes the fun part! It's time to fill your ball. Filling them with polyester fiberfill makes a perfect baby toy. I purchased jingle bell inserts from American Felt and Craft on Etsy and tucked them deep inside the stuffing. Then I stuffed the ball as full as I possibly could and stitched the final edges together securely.
that's the jingle bell insert in white plastic on the left
Need more ideas? The three balls at the top of this post are filled with plain old rice (uncooked of course!). You see, my husband loves to juggle! I keep them in a pretty bowl in the hallway and frequently as he walks by, he picks them up and starts to juggle!

Maybe you'd like to fill some with potpourri to add a pleasant scent to your living space or dresser drawers? Or fill them with crushed walnut shells for fun pin cushions for your sewing buddies? Stitch a ribbon on and they become Christmas tree ornaments. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Gratitude Quilt

I finished my fourth word-of-the-year quilt! Gratitude was my word in 2012. I chose a pumpkin to represent my word because I always think of the harvest when I think of gratitude. Also, I realized that this is ABSOLUTELY the longest word I can choose or I will have to make my paper pieced letters even smaller (and that, my friends, is NOT happening!)

For the pumpkin, I used this tutorial that I found via Pinterest (don't you just love Pinterest?) posted on the Fort Worth Studio Blog (which I love!) The finished quilt is 18x20, just like the other word quilts I have made. I can't wait to hang them all together eventually! I have one more to make before 2016 and my new word arrive. It's my 2011 word, Trust. I am totally stumped on a picture for this one. Any thoughts?